On one of the last days before Thanksgiving break, a teenage child left my house happy because the thought of a whole week off danced ahead, a well-deserved party full of pie and mashed potatoes. Another child shrugged, grouchy because the last day of school before a break is almost always pointless, and why couldn’t everyone just stay home??
Their perspectives hit incredibly close to home for me. I am always caught somewhere between these two extremes in life: thrilled about the joy around the next corner or full of dread that the final lap of my race requires more than I’d like to give.
Figuring out what story we’re in is a constant challenge; are we living a dream or are we enduring a tragedy?
To be honest, our perspectives often only last as long as the circumstances of our stories can support them. For example, if something horrible and tragic happens to my happy kid, like extra homework assigned during the break, his morning peppiness will end. And if my grouchy child found a fifty-dollar bill lying in the gutter on the way to school, leaving the house would literally pay off.
Isn’t it funny? The way we can be wholly surprised by what the day brings? Even on our grouchiest days, there can be good reason to hope for improvement. But we miss all the fun and surprises if we believe the lie that we shouldn’t bother showing up. Showing up is the first step of faith, and it requires we acknowledge that there is always cause for hope.
And so, “It’s the last day of school, why show up?” becomes “One more day, and then it will get better.”
“Someone else could do this better, what’s the point?” becomes “I’m going to practice being faithful and trust the process alone will grow my skill and character.”
“You failed last time, let’s hide in bed this go around,” becomes “Succeed or fail, I refuse to quit.”
Every time I wish I could run away and never have to show up, I remember how almost every good thing in my life is the direct result of showing up for something I wasn’t sure I could pull off. Even the times I showed up and fell flat on my face have served to help me be brave enough to show up again and learn that I’m not destined to fail every time.
Wherever we are, God is. Whatever we face, he’s facing it with us. The real truth is God is facing every enemy and obstacle in our path for us. We’re pretty much just along for the ride.
Here’s to a week of prioritizing gratitude by showing up for our friends and family, for work, and even for ourselves. If things go awry, we always have pie, mashed potatoes, and the God of all comfort. May our hearts find satisfaction in him.
(PS I hope you find fifty dollars in the street this week. How fun would that be?)