Chicago, mid-May. I was holding Brian’s hand and strolling along Navy Pier. A sunny morning spent with sunny tourists. Overpriced pork sandwiches, a cute lighthouse in the distance, and tons of pictures flooding a memory card. Ahh, yes. I smiled up at him, dancing eyes behind sunglasses. “Life is so good.”
There were simply too many happy things in the world for it to be anything else. And really, why couldn’t everyone see that? Why couldn’t some people just open their eyes to what’s around them? Maybe I just had the right mindset.
Pride smirked its haughty grin in my heart. Yeah, that’s right. Maybe I just had the right mindset. Too bad everyone couldn’t see life like me.
The thought lasted a split second. I knew it was wrong, and lately I’ve been going through a reality check that’s reminding me how ridiculous it was.
Last week I came home and started working my new summer job. And life’s inherent, undeniable goodness became a little muddy in my mind.
The first few days of work immediately had me feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and small. So naturally, I let myself stew, regret, complain, and snap at the people closest to me.
Here’s an understatement: I am too easily swayed by circumstances. . . and I’ve been reacquainted with this gross truth in a very unavoidable way lately.
It all reminds me of a quote I read in CS Lewis’s Mere Christianity a while ago: "It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves."
When I’m feeling happy and carefree and like life is good, I put it down to myself. “Wow, I am such a good-natured, smiling, positive person. I sure do know how to make the best of things!” But wait a minute. Maybe it’s just that God is good. Maybe every bit of joy in every corner of creation is a straight-up product of that goodness. Maybe I don’t have an inherently beautiful heart that embraces beauty, but a parched, sinful heart that blooms and rejoices at glimpses of God.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
It’s time to give him some credit.
On the flipside, when I’m in a bad mood, don’t want to be with people, or snap at my family members, I invariably put it down to circumstances. . . translation: excuses. “I’m stressed. I don’t have enough time anymore. People expect too much of me. It’s too hot outside today. Life is hard. Poor me.” But wait a minute. Maybe it’s just that I have the wrong attitude. Maybe my heart is way too self-centered when left unchecked. Maybe I’m not actually as thankful as I thought I was. Maybe I shouldn’t let what’s going on around me pour unfiltered into me.
It’s time to take some responsibility.
Bad circumstances and days and even hours are still reality. Things change and hearts drop at the speed of weather and phone calls and calendar pages and doctor visits. Some things are admittedly quite awful, and you can’t (and shouldn’t) try to talk yourself out of all the pain.
But- and here’s the important part- there are certain constants and absolutes that will never be swayed by a bad day, bad news, or a downcast soul. God will always be who he says he is. Life will always be a gift, one with purpose. You will always have value. Your mindset will always affect your actions. And those actions will always affect you, people around you, and, I’m willing to bet, people you’ll never meet.
So let’s give God credit for all the good, and speak truth to ourselves instead of basking in all the bad. Living and thinking in this way is a tall order, but when it starts becoming part of who you are, it will bring you abundant joy and wisdom.
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Look forward to new posts every Monday morning!