If you have more than two friends on Facebook, at least one of them will post something about dreading the upcoming week and wishing it were Friday already. Or maybe they regret that the weekend has come to a close and will not return for another five days. Or maybe they wish that the particular circumstance they’re dealing with would just go away. We’ve all wished for time to warp to satisfy our desires: we could just skip work and go straight to the weekend fun, and we could skip through the unpleasant bits. I’ve seen a quotation that floats around the web at least once a month: Life should come with a fast forward button for bad times and a pause button for good times – or something to that effect. I used to have the same desire. My life would be so much easier/better if I could just skip the tough days.
Then I realized that I would be skipping through virtually every day for the last four years. I would be skipping the trials that strengthened my faith and my knowledge of who I am. I would be skipping the very things that make all of the good moments really great and enjoyable. If I fast-forwarded every bad moment, I would not have the strength or courage that God taught me in the process of just surviving the last four years. I would not be thriving now; I would still be floundering and bitter and angry. Given that I am still all of those things to a much lesser degree now, I cannot imagine how miserable I would be if I hadn’t learned to accept the crap and cope with it. I don’t always cope gracefully, and I know anyone who knows me well has witnessed a meltdown of some variety as a result. I have had to learn that coping isn’t just moving forward physically; it means that I have to move forward emotionally and spiritually as well.
I can keep moving through the daily routine without actually progressing on any other level – that’s not really accepting the situation and dealing with it; that’s only survival and avoidance. I have learned to ask myself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Generally speaking, the worst isn’t really all that bad, especially when compared to what we’ve been through with so many miscarriages. I also have every confidence that no matter what the worst case scenario is, God is there with me, and he has given me the ability to deal with anything. We humans tend to think of the consequences of the worst case scenario being some form of instant death. Maybe there really is some dark abyss that will open up under my feet and swallow me whole if I admit that I have a problem. You never can be too careful when dealing with theoretical chasms.
Our church recently had Vacation Bible School, and we performed a musical for family night. I played the teacher, and there were four students who played students on a mission trip. There was one scene where every one of us missed a major line, and I improvised a few lines to get us back on track. When we got off stage after that scene, the kids were rattled and scared they would mess up the next scene. I made them stop and huddle up and asked them, “What was the worst that could happen?” Short of falling off the stage, we had just experienced the worst that could happen, so asked them, “Okay, did anybody die?” No one could say they died as a result of missing their lines. “Alright, nobody’s dead, and we can’t fix the last scene, so we will just have to keep moving and get the next scene right.” And we did, mostly.
In my life, there are six little grave markers in my heart where the worst case scenario did happen: somebody died, and it wasn’t me. I’m not dead, and I can’t change the last scene, so I just have to try my hardest in the next scene. Sometimes the next scene isn’t a comedy or romance. If you know plotting, sometimes the next scene is falling action with far more conflict than I’d like. But I know I won’t be the character I’m supposed to be in the final act without experiencing every moment each scene in my life has to offer. Every moment is an opportunity for me to “practice what I preach” and find the abiding joy and peace of Christ in the midst of pain and frustration and love and laughter. I have yet to make the most of every moment, but I am not going to wish any more of my life away. We have no guarantees that tomorrow will be better than today; we have no guarantees that our existential circumstances will improve; we have only the promise of “I Am” that God in is every moment if we will but search for him. Fair warning to my FB friends: I will not be liking your status if it involves dreading another workday or waiting impatiently for the weekend. I challenge you instead to find at least one thing every day that made you smile. Some days, I feel like I’m only smiling at something ridiculous my dogs do, but it provides at least one moment in the day that I wasn’t thinking about how bad my day was. That’s something to build on until most of your days really aren’t as bad as you think they are. Some days are as bad as you think they are, and you will desperately need a moment of pure joy to cling to. Those times of pure joy make me glad I can live in the moment instead of wishing for something else; the more I stop to notice them, the more I can observe the pain without falling into the abyss.