Whenever I want to get my day off to a bad start, I have a fool-proof strategy. I turn on the morning news and hear about all the awful things that happened yesterday, or while I was sleeping. It’s kind of like the guy who said, “My day was going just great. Really well. Then I got out of bed, and it spiraled down from there!”
Reminds me of the classic children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. If you’re not familiar with this award-winning story, poor little Alexander finds that from the moment he wakes up, things seem determined not to go his way. Things get so bad, Alexander wishes he could move to Australia, where he feels certain things would go much better for him. (In an Australian version of the book, Alexander expresses a yearning to move to Timbuktu.)
You might not face the same set of setbacks that Alexander does, but we’ve all had our own version of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, haven’t we?
Sometimes circumstances we encounter are beyond our control: Someone backing into our car in the shopping mall parking lot; dropping an egg or bottle of milk on the floor while preparing to make breakfast; not noticing that icy spot on the sidewalk; or having one of the kids get sick just before we’re heading out for a special evening with our spouse.
But what we can control is our attitude. As my friend used to say, “We can’t keep the birds from flying overhead, but we can keep them from building a nest in our hair.”
It’s not about becoming a Pollyanna, or insisting on wearing rose-colored glasses – or drinking out of only half-full ones, for that matter. It’s about understanding what we can rely on even when a day serves us with its worst.
The Scriptures talk about maintaining a right perspective even in the midst of negative news and circumstances: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). It’s hard to remain pessimistic when we surround ourselves with reasons for optimism.
We also can escape negativity when we concentrate on God’s assurances. For instances, in Jeremiah 29:11, He promises, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Several chapters later the Lord instructs us to “Call on me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). In the midst of difficulties, big or small, it can be extremely hard to see or understand the big picture. Sometimes we need to drive through mud to reach the paved road.
Then there’s one of my all-time favorite promises, that we can release whatever burdens us to God’s attention: “Cast all your anxiety of him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? Take heart – it will pass sooner than you think. And trust in the Lord who’s expert at turning terrible, horrible, no good, very bad stuff into something really good!
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.