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  • Jane Wheeler

The Wrong Formula

Our long weekend goal was to paint the garage doors. It went from choosing a color to picking a different color, to he liked and then she liked and finally we agreed on three different ones, out of 100. I went to the store to get the color that we had both decided on.

It was on the purple page but it was really, really dark, almost black in appearance with a just a hint of a purple. I gave the paint person my choice along with their booklet with the color swatch on it. They choose a base color and started mixing. I was excited, we had chosen a color and it was going to be different from the other garage doors on our street and it was going to be awesome!

When we opened the lid of the paint to do the test sample against the color swatch, my stomach flipped when the color looked so purple, not dark like I was anticipating. I watched as the paint person, who wore a tag with “I’m training” on it, dipped their finger into the paint and put the dot onto the top of the can like they always do and then onto the page with my color swatch.

The color on the swatch seemed very different than the dot. I questioned the color difference. We waited until the dot dried as paint always dry’s darker and then we both noticed that the paint was indeed a different color. We decided to add more black to the mixture to darken it up, we did this x 3 and then we ran out of room in the can. I was discouraged but took the can home and tested it out on a piece of wood. It was Purple, a pretty purple but still purple. This was going to be a different garage door in the neighborhood all right!

I proceeded to take some paint out of the can at home and mixed in some black and brown into the sample that I had taken out. When I added brown the color got much closer to the color swatch I was trying to match in the book.

The large amount of paint on the stick has had black added to it x 3.

Knowing that tinted paint can not be returned, we, Brian and I went back to the paint department the next day and showed them the samples I had painted and my additions of the black and brown. I explained to the manager that I did not want a purple garage door and she agreed with me that she would not like that either. We tried adding more brown to the mixture and the color just seemed to get more purple.

The manager said they would make an exception for us and let us pick another color and she personally would mix it and exchange the paint for us. She explained that she had gone to look up the formula for the original color and she believed the formula in the computer was wrong. The computerized formula had only 2 colors in it – purple and yellow. She had no idea how that would ever make a dark paint and she told us she was going to delete that formula out of the computer.

The whole paint experience got me thinking about her statement that the formula was wrong. Who would have ever guessed that the computer had the wrong information? Computers are supposed to be so smart, but in this case, the information was programmed into the computer wrong. I wondered how many other formulas were wrong in the computer.

From my vantage point, I had been blaming the poor worker with the “I’m training” badge, trusting that human error had caused this paint fiasco. I blamed the other workers who never came over to help yesterday when the employee was struggling to make the color work, and that “I’m training badge” seemed to be a cry for help all by itself.

But never did I get so far in my head as to think that the computer might be wrong, it was not ever a fleeting thought. It just could not be.

How many times do we think about something as being, it just could not be; it is impossible; it is unlikely and not give any credence to the fact that it just might be we have the wrong formula.

The wrong formula can give you a bad recipe, totally bad paint, wrong medicine from the doctor, the wrong gas for your car, a wrong answer and the list goes on.

You can sincerely believe that you have the right formula because 99% of the time, it is always right. What about that 1% chance it is not. I was that 1% chance – me and purple paint.

The wrong formula is a recipe for disaster no matter what it is for, it is not going to turn

out. It cannot, it does not have the right ingredients.

What about with God – you can think you are sincerely right in your relationship with God, only to find out that you do not have a clue who He really is. Even with reading my Bible and studying it and Him, I often get it totally wrong.

He is way bigger than the box I have stuffed Him into. I had the wrong formula, I like to think I know about Him and have His ways figured out. NOPE! Not even close.

The part I did not even realize is that God does not have a Formula, yes He tells us about Himself in the Bible, but seriously, He is God. No human mind can truly ever understand what that truly means. I can read and read the Bible and in my head think I know something about this God of the Universe only to discover how little I really know. I mean it’s the wrong formula because my human mind cannot grasp the totality of God so I do not even have the right ingredients.

We do this with other people all the time too; judging them, predicting their answers before they do, thinking we know what they will do in a certain circumstance, but we do not have all the information, because we are not them! We have the wrong formula! Certainly this is a recipe for disaster.

Bottom line is that we do it all the time, at least I do. I think I have someone figured out or I analyze a situation but in both cases it is only from my perspective. Trouble is, my perspective does not have all the facts and info to come up with an accurate formula about God or other people.

That is probably why it is a huge warning in the Bible – do not judge. Just do not do it.

** End note – the new paint we got is called Pinecone Path and guess what? It goes on Purple and dries dark brown, but imagine my shock when purple was the color coming out of the can – again! Definitely an unusual formula!

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