Ever seen this picture?
I think we've all had those days when it seemed like if one more thing went wrong, we'd just scream. Something as seemingly small as a bad hair day (which is the WORST... And guys have it so easy. No fair!) to spilled coffee, oversleeping, or searching frantically for the dreaded "other shoe". All of these little "inconveniences" can add up into a pretty yucky day.
But what about when things go wrong... Like, really wrong? Not just a bad hair day, a run in your hose (which is more obnoxious than nearly anything in the world!), or even a downright unpleasant encounter... but an actual crisis? When I was in the tenth grade, my family went through a very difficult time. Without going into all the details, it's sufficient to say that it was the hardest thing I had gone through up to that point in my life. In the space of about 3 weeks, I had said goodbye to all my friends, moved 3,000 miles across the country, and started going to a new church and school. (This included coming from California to North Carolina, where everyone talked exponentially more slowly and every introduction to a new person included the question "Carolina, State, or Duke?" Major culture shock for this West Coast girl!)
After settling down and deciding that this was not, after all, the end of my existence as I knew it, I began to look around and see what other people were going through. There were two other teenagers in our youth group, a brother and sister, who had moved to our town at the same time as my family. However, theirs was quite a different story from mine. Rather than coming here for a "transition time" between ministries, they had moved to Goldsboro because their dad was dying of cancer and they wanted to be near family.
Woah. While I was griping about leaving behind my friends (which was hard, for sure), these kids are faced with the reality that their dad has a few months left on earth. One Wednesday afternoon, on Teen Evangelism, the girl shared about how good God had been to their family and how she was thankful for her dad's cancer because God had used it in their lives. This testimony prompted me to stand up and share what God had dealing with me about... that even when I think I have it hard, someone around me probably has it "harder". Then, as the sage 15-year-old I was, I made a statement that has become a running joke between me and my youth pastor: "It could always get worse."
Now, we say that to each other jokingly, and have for years, but just recently it really hit home. A few different instances have occurred in the past few months (to people I know) that have made me realize that yes, it could always be worse. Tonight at a ladies event at our church, a lady named Tabitha Groeneveld stood up and praised God despite the devastating house fire that claimed every one of her family's material possessions in December. Last week, a missionary family on deputation was in a car accident that took the life of their precious 3-year-old daughter. These are two examples of events that can really put things in perspective for me when I feel like complaining. Think about it! If you look around, someone always has it worse than you. It helps to remind myself of this regularly:
- I sometimes wish my apartment had a dishwasher... but I've never picked through the charred remains of my house and found little if anything that is salvageable.
- My husband doesn't always validate my feelings.... but my husband loves me and I've never had to deal with infidelity.
- Sometimes my family just doesn't understand... but I've never had to watch one of them lose a battle with cancer.
- I can't seem to shake this sinus infection... but I don't deal with chronic pain that some days makes getting out of bed an ordeal.
- I don't always feel as happy as I appear... but I've never been immobilized by depression.
- I can't afford to buy that dress I want... but I've never been humbled by losing all my clothes and having to wear whatever people bring by.
- I sometimes get frustrated with my students... but I've never had the euphoric joy of a pregnancy ripped away by the crushing blow of a miscarriage.
- I wish I understood why a certain person dislikes me... but I have never had to plan a funeral for my toddler.
- I may have to deal with an unreasonable person... but I haven't raised a child in a godly home and then had to watch him forsake the faith I tried to instill in him.
- I often question people's motives when I see them make what I consider foolish decisions... but I've never received a life-changing call telling me someone I love has been killed in a car accident.
- I may grow weary at my job sometimes... but I've never faced unemployment and wondered how my family would make it financially.
- I don't always understand why things happen the way they do... but I know Someone who does.
I know many people have dealt or are dealing with some of the "serious" problems I mentioned. I also know that everyone's problems are personal and that what is important to me may not be important to you. I am certainly not trying to make anyone's problems seem insignificant, because sometimes I need to someone to sympathize with me over something "small" too! But I just feel lately that any complaining I do is completely uncalled for. (And I still do complain, because some lessons take a while to sink in!) But I have been reminded tonight by Tabitha's testimony that when it comes down to it, what do I really have to complain about?
So, though I am rarely going to be this serious on here (or preachy!), just take a minute to look around and put things in perspective. Is the situation really worth "losing it" over? Remember, things really could be worse!
Oh, and if you have a bad hair day, call me. I will totally bring refreshments to your pity party! =)