In much of our lives we cannot control what happens to us. But we can control our reaction, how we deal with what happens. A motivational speaker called Skip Ross, when people said they were ‘under the weather’ meaning not feeling very good, used to say “What are you doing under the weather? You should take charge!” He also used to say, talking about the climate, “Declare yourself independent of the weather.” Don’t let grey skies or a bit of rain disrupt your plans.
I have noticed that how I deal with life is greatly affected by my mood. The ‘last straw’ is only breaking point because I am already stretched very thin. In itself it might be something minor, it becomes hard to deal with on top of other things. So the lesson in this is not to let things pile up, and to deal with each thing calmly. It also helps if I think ahead and make contingency plans, and also let others help me.
Here is a challenging saying:
This time, like all times, is a very good one, if only we know what to do with it. [Anon]
Paul promised that God would bring good out of every circumstance (Romans 8:28). Sometimes the good is hard to find, but what a difference it makes to look at whatever happens and look for the good in it. There was a book and a film about a girl called Pollyanna, who had been taught by her missionary parents to look for the good in every situation. She never failed to find it. When a missionary aid parcel contained, not the doll she wished for, but crutches, she decided the good thing was that she could be grateful that she didn’t need them.
Nine months ago I had a stroke. I have written previously how God was very near to me when it happened. The experience of his love carried me through the early days especially, but I still had to face the future disabled and not knowing how much I would recover. But looking back over those nine months and, like Pollyanna, looking for the good in them, I was surprised by how much I found:
* I was struggling with new duties in work and praying for a way out.
* We were able to claim on insurance policies which put us on a much stronger footing financially.
* I am now entitled to benefits which offset my loss of pay.
* I had time to think about a historical biography I was writing and completely revise it, and it is now under consideration by two publishers.
* I wrote a flood of poetry, which blessed me and may bless others in future.
* I had the time I had long craved to read the scriptures.
* I was able to attend the Ladies Fellowship at church, which meets in the afternoon, when I used to be at work. This was a great blessing to me.
* I found a determination and persistence I didn’t have before.
* I had the chance to reassess my priorities and goals.
* I had the chance to find out just how kind friends and neighbours can be, and how wonderful my kids are.
* My husband’s love found a new means of expression.
I am sure there are more. Do I wish I could have gained and grown without having a stroke? Of course I do, but some things you can’t get any easier way. You can’t refine silver and gold without putting it in the fire.
Here is something you can try to begin changing your attitude to life: I keep a special kind of diary. Keeping a diary can be time consuming and sometimes boring, but at the end of each day I write, “The best thing that that happened today was …” Sometimes it was such a bad day that the best thing was going to bed at the end of it, but there is usually something good, however small. At the end of each month I summarise the best bits, and summarise the months at the end of the year.
Try keeping a ‘best things’ diary, and you will be looking for the good bits as you go about each day, and keeping your spirits up.