Today is a new day. The sun is shining, I wasn't awakened in the night with any tragic news, and I'll be getting ready in a few minutes to go to work. It's a typical day in my life, and I have two choices about how I view it. I can look at it as a boring, mundane annoyance, or I can be grateful that all is well.
There's nothing particularly awesome about getting up at 5:30 a.m. after a good night's sleep, unless you have been up until all hours with a sick child, are worried about how you'll pay your bills, or have just been sucker punched with bad news from the doctor. See? It is all a matter of perspective.
The problem that most of us have is that we tend to focus more on what is not going well in our lives than what actually is. I think that it is part of the way that we are wired...all wanting to be living in Eden rather than out here east of it.
Just in the past few weeks I have received knowledge of two friends with cancer (good news followed the surgeries...so that's wonderful), a friend who lost her mother, a friend who moved from an area she's lived in most of her life to follow her husband's job, an accident that banged up several young people (nobody was fatally wounded which is a miracle), and numerous people who are unhappy for one reason or another.
I've actually been whining about car trouble, a slow period of work for Big Dave, my bedroom which is perpetually messy, and my inability to discipline myself in a couple areas of my life. I need to just shut up already.
The truth is...all of us have things in our life that we'd like to change. We'd like to have more expendable income, to travel, to have more free time, or to have a burden removed from our lives. Who wouldn't? But we really need to be paying attention to what is going well more than we actually do.
We take for granted the fact that we can do much of what we want to do. But instead of being grateful for our freedom, our stocked pantries, our jobs, our health, and our families, we are more concerned about the twenty (or eighty) pounds we'd like to lose, the fact that our children aren't performing to our perceived notions of their ability, the rooms in our house that need repainting, and anything else that is not meeting our standards.
I think that I'm going to change my perspective today. I'm going to remember the joy that I had when I first accepted the job I have...and be grateful that I have one. I'm going to look at my life as the wonderful combination of people, places, experiences and craziness that it is from day to day. I'm blessed in so many ways, and I need to remember that. Not just occasionally...but every moment.
When something tragic happens, we usually are overcome with remorse about how we could have done more, been a better friend, or appreciated the person a little bit more. Perhaps a lot more. One of the things I've been careful to teach my children is that you need to spend time with people that are older because you can't take for granted that they will always be there. Not every relationship in our lives will be what we want it to be. I've accepted that about my life in a few instances, and I think that everyone is happier because of it.
A few years ago I was touched by a sermon at church and sent letters to various people thanking them for the influence that they had in my life. I've also tried to do that whenever I've been led to since that time. I have changed a lot through the years and probably took a lot longer to grow up than I should have, and I'm no doubt not through growing up quite yet. But I didn't do it alone. A lot of people helped me get through, over, and beyond the messes I made, the wrong turns I took, and the opportunities I squandered.
Today, look at your life and be grateful for what is going well. If you are having health issues...be happy for the people who have expressed love and encouragement to you. If you are grieving...know that you were blessed by having a relationship that shaped you into the incredible person that you are. If you are worried...focus on all of the times that you miraculously pulled through something at the last minute by the grace of God, because in my experience He works on a far better timetable than our own. If you are frustrated with your children...be happy that you have them...so many people who wanted to be parents aren't for one reason or another.
Two people can look at the same situation and draw vastly different conclusions. Maybe you need to call that friend who paints things in a way that lifts you up today. We all have them...we just don't call them because we'd rather wallow in self-pity for some unspeakable reason.
I don't know if life will wear down my good intentions today, but I hope not. I have an awful lot to be grateful for, and I'm going to start acting like it. Even if today brings a whole host of problems. After all, God has seen me through this far...