Sometimes things just don’t go my way.
The bus driver doesn’t stop for me. The local store runs out of my favorite cereal. My kids come to class acting like they just did shots of espresso.
Sometimes even bigger things happen. My boss unexpectedly announces she is giving me more work for the same pay. A close friend moves an ocean away. Someone makes a cutting, uncalled-for remark about my personal character.
But I’m learning not to give in to my circumstances.
Day by day, I’m learning to choose joy, thankfulness, hope. And each time things don’t go my way is another opportunity to learn.
At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself lately.
Sometimes, my optimism feels hollow. People say it’s a good thing to have, but sometimes it’s not enough. At least not for me.
What I really don’t want to do is spend my time meditating on the things that haven’t gone right or that may not go right in the near future. That kind of meditation is a downward spiraling vortex that sucks you into darkness. Which is why I tell myself: It’s going to be okay. It will all work itself out. Just relax.
But I don’t like empty self-placations. Will it be alright, really? (And what is the definition of “okay”?)
I don’t want to simply blow past the unpleasantness to get on to the next thing.
I don’t like treading water, waiting for what’s next. I want to find meaning in the now. Whether I’m teaching a class of rambunctious children, sitting at home alone on a quiet evening, or walking through the bustling city I live in, rubbing shoulders with strangers. Whether things are going my way or not.
Sometimes I find meaning by fleshing out story ideas on my phone or reflecting on recent conversations I’ve had with people. Sometimes I find meaning by doing something nice for a stranger or sharing a moment of laughter with a student. Sometimes I find meaning by praying for the people around me or for the people far off who are in my heart.
But here is one secret I continually come back to:
The God of the Universe is bigger than me, and ultimately, life is all about Him. My ego finds that truth a bit of a blow, but my spirit is always freed by it.
The reason I can defy unpleasant circumstances with a positive attitude is because He is still God. I can dance for joy in the midst of uncertainty. I can sing songs of praise in the midst of confusion. I can laugh loudly and show kindness to those who hurt me. Because He. is. still. good.
It’s okay if things don’t go my way. As long as they go His way. And even just asking the question of what His way is, changes everything.