I’ve had mornings when I’ve woken up in a foul mood. My dreams were disturbing, my children were up too early, my husband was gone because of military obligations, and I had a headache. I’d start the day hating life. Honestly, I’d sit up in bed, pause and find that nothing good entered my mind. As the morning progressed, life didn’t get better. My house seemed too messy, my children seemed too loud, my clothes seemed outdated even my coffee seemed to taste bad!
Ok, so actually, that was this morning. And it is only 9:00. Sigh.
So far today I’ve complained to God, shouted at my boys, sent a snarky text, cleaned milk off the kitchen floor, kicked my exercise ball across the room (grrrr….which made me think about exercising : P ) and even snapped at the baby. The baby! Argh. By 8:00 I was pretty convinced that this Saturday was going to be ridiculously unpleasant. By 8:30 I’d convinced myself that my life was a cesspool of wretchedness and that God must be punishing me for some misstep I’d made in the past few days. But at 8:45 a piece of advice that I had just given a friend yesterday morning popped into my head. It made me pause in my headlong rush into despondent self-pity. The question was, would I take my own advice?
When I was a child, one of my favorite books was “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day.” I tracked with that kid. On my bad days, I felt a kind of solidarity with him. Yeah Alexander, sometimes life stinks.
This morning, as my day began to unfold, the book’s opening sentence came to my mind.
“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”
I hear ya Alex, I hear ya.
But then, one of the things that I love about the book is that the author doesn’t give the reason as to why the day was so bad. There is no cosmic explanation. The fate of the world didn’t hang in the balance. Alex didn’t become a stronger person, didn’t learn some life-altering lesson and didn’t have all his troubles magically disappear at the end of the book.
Instead, we are left with a single sentence.
“My mom says some days are like that.”
(Alexander’s mother sounds like a pragmatic, no-fluff, no-drama type of women : )
Some days are like that. Some mornings are like that. Some Saturday mornings with a husband at the base and early rising children are like that.
Ironically, the advice that I had given to my friend was this; don’t let the bad things in life overshadow the good things. Another friend recently put it this way, “it’s like holding your thumb in front of your eye. Because you’ve made it so big, it’s all you’ll see! But in reality, it’s not that large and you are missing out on seeing all the other things in life.”
It is so easy to focus on the situations that are making our day terrible, horrible, no good and very bad. It is even easier to take those difficult incidents and use them to fabricate a picture of our overarching life that includes nothing but gloom and despair. And this can take place in the space of an hour. Believe me. I’ve done it quite recently : )
The truth is that some days, some mornings, are just bad. Things go wrong and life gets frustrating. But if I begin to focus on those bad things, begin to bring them closer and closer to my mind’s eye, I will start to miss all the things in my day that are just sitting in front of me, being good. Like, sunshine after three days of gray, kisses from little boys (even after I yell at them), blooming flowers on my window sill, smiles from a baby and Tylenol for a pounding headache.
If I was going to get even more spiritual, I would remind myself that God is always good and that his love is steadfast (Ps 118:1), and that his grace is an ever flowing stream that can give me strength to deal with this disagreeable morning (Heb 4:16). Pushing into even further spiritual analysis would turn up the truth that everything in life that God allows is meant for my good and has the capacity to make me more like Jesus (Rom 8:28). Even early rising children and burnt coffee.
Now, maybe observing all those previously ignored good things and contemplating these spiritual implications won’t immediately change the course of my day. In fact, maybe today will continue to be unpleasant and challenging. But now I can fight back against the desire to cross my arms and pout. Now I feel as though I can keep my perspective honest. Now I can face this day because I’ve decided to take my own advice.
Or maybe it’s just the Tylenol kicking in, it’s a little hard to tell. But here’s to hoping that I may be making the right spiritual choice ; )