Today was definitely a day out of the ordinary. Overall, it was a horrible day for me. And yet, at the same time, it was a great day as well. I’m not sure how better to explain that without just explaining it outright, so I might as well just start into it.
I’ll start with the bad stuff first. Over the past couple of days, my allergies have been horribly bad – either that, or I’ve come down with a cold of some kind. I’m pretty sure now that it’s a combination of both. Anyways, last night I had a stuffed up nose. That gave me two things: a headache, and a sore throat. The sore throat was from breathing through my mouth all night since I couldn’t breathe through my nose. The headache was just from plugged sinuses, I suppose, but it meant a horrible night’s sleep; I woke up several times through the night and just wished I could get a drill and shove it up my nose. So anyways, this lack of sleep meant running on about four or five hours of sleep for today. It wasn’t fun. My joints were aching for some reason, and just generally, I felt like crap. On top of that, we went outside for English class today to read Huckleberry Finn, so the grass didn’t help my allergies at all. I was sniffling during the entire class to keep from dripping – it seems to alternate from a stuffed up nose to a runny nose with little provocation or warning.
You’d think that I’d be cranky, though. I mean, none of the things I just mentioned are pleasant. But I actually had quite a good day. It was quite strange. The entire day, I had this sort of internal battle going on – maybe not a battle, I suppose, but at least a minor skirmish. On the one hand, I had my normal, Jeff self saying, “Hey, you deserve some sympathy here. Go ahead and unload on everyone. Grumble about how horrible you feel; come on, you deserve it.” I did that a little bit. And for the most part, people were sympathetic and all. But then, on the other hand, I had another voice inside me saying, “Hey, it’s not that bad. Don’t bother everyone else with it, because you’re strong enough to handle this. What, you’re going to let a little stuffed up nose take you down?” Now, I’m not going to attribute this to the voice of God, or even my conscience, but it definitely shut me up when I was about to complain. In one corner of the ring was my grumbling, complaining spirit, and in the other corner was patience and the love I have for my friends.
Let me give you an example of how this worked throughout my day. In Law class, Steph was sitting beside me, and near the end of class, she started to talk to me about Josh – the only person besides Melissa that she’s really talked to me about in the last little while. It’s always “Melissa said this” or “Josh said that.” I was very, very tempted to do one of two things: either complain to her about the bad day I was having, or else just let my grumpiness go and just tell her to stop talking about Josh so much. After all, it doesn’t involve me at all, and she’s constantly talking about him. But then I stopped myself and said, “You know what? She’s my friend, and if that’s what makes her happy, then what right do I have to take that away from her? Why am I so concerned with getting a little sympathy when I could instead use this time to just give that little spark of joy to my friend?” Needless to say, when it’s put in that perspective, it seems more the right thing to do than to gripe about my stupid cold or allergies or whatever. I want what’s best for her, and the last thing I want to be is a joy-stealer. I mean, most likely, hearing me complain about a bad day isn’t going to do anything for her. It’s more likely going to give her just that little tinge of a damper on her happy mood. Maybe not, but I didn’t even want to take that chance, especially when I could listen to her go on about this exciting new thing she’s got going in her life. Sometimes being happy for other people takes a little effort, but I forced myself to be genuinely happy for what’s going on in her life – because wouldn’t I want the same thing if I were in her situation?
Later on in the day, this whole mood change found itself increasing in persistence. English was third period, and we got out of it a little early, so we had a bit longer of a break until World Religions started. During that time, I was sitting in my desk just thinking about this whole attitude issue. I knew that, contrary to my best efforts, I still had this nagging tendency to complain sticking in the back of my mind, trying to escape. So I just leaned my head on my hand, closed my eyes, and offered up a quick prayer to God to ask Him to help me through this day, and to just give me strength and joy despite the circumstances. Then I promptly fell asleep. Of course, it was only perhaps a minute long, but I felt better afterwards. My eyes got that little bit of rest that they needed, and more importantly, my complaining spirit decided to shut up. I guess it knew better now that it had not only me, but also God up against it. The odds were definitely against it.
During the bus ride home, I was definitely feeling a lot better than before. I mean, I’m still sitting here sniffling, and not much has changed on the outside, but things on the inside have definitely changed – hopefully to stay that way. While riding home, I decided to just pray and thank God for what He had done and helped me do, and then just started to pray for my friends in the situations they’ve all been going through. I started off with Jordan and Angelie, because I had prayed for them last night as well at youth (we had gotten into circles of three or four and prayed for the people next to us). I also prayed for many of the relationships or potential relationships going on right now – Melissa and myself, Josh and Steph, and Zeth and Kristy. All of us need guidance right now in making sure that we make wise decisions and keep God at the centre of anything that happens. I also thanked Him for the great blessings that they’ve been to me, and asked Him to use me to reciprocate it back to them. I only wish that I could give back half of the love that they’ve shown me, and even an infinitesimal amount of the love God has shown to me. It’d be a great achievement for me to do even just that, but I believe that it’s possible as God continues to work in my life as I know He’s been doing.
All in all, today was not a day I’d like to repeat, and yet it was certainly useful. I still feel like crap on the outside, but inside I’m refreshed; God’s definitely been good to me today in even just putting up with me. I hope that what I’ve learned today will continue to stick in my mind in the days to follow, and part of the reason I’m writing this is to help solidify it so that it will. If there’s one thing that people can’t criticize about Christianity, it’s that it teaches people to be completely selfless. If there’s one thing people can criticize, it’s the Christians for failing to learn that lesson. It’s a gradual process, but I know it’s achievable, and I’m certainly trusting God to help me get there. Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – it takes bad situations in order to learn some lessons. The important thing, though, is learning from those bad situations to improve for next time. That’s something that I’m hoping will happen in my life.
I remember a while ago I was thinking about this sort of thing. I remember distinctly debating on whether to ask God to bring me troubles just so I could learn from them. While I finally decided that wasn’t the proper attitude to have, but rather to just accept the good and bad and deal with them as they come, it definitely raised an interesting question. If you don’t get it, think it over a while. Mull it over in your mind, and see what you get. We can’t have the good without the bad, and though I don’t think it’s our place to specifically ask for troubles, I think that God most certainly wants us to ask for strength and help when He brings those hard times into our lives. We as Christians have an unlimited source of all we could ever need, and God is honestly just sitting up there waiting for us to ask for it. We have access to faith, hope, love, strength, patience, wisdom, and peace, and all we have to do is say, “God, I really need this right now. Please pour it out on me.” I mean, take a look at this: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:2-5) Just read that over a few times. God doesn’t just give us wisdom; He gives it to us generously! God’s not a stingy God sitting there thinking, “Hmm, should I really give them this wisdom? I think I want to keep it for Myself, and they’d just go and waste it anyways.” No way! He’s just waiting for us to ask for it, and then He’ll dump it out by the truckload! If that isn’t a source of encouragement, I don’t know what is.
Anyways, I could go on and discuss this topic some more, since I really have thought about it often, but I’ll stop for now. If you still have questions, go ahead and ask me. I won’t bite. Better yet, though, ask God. He’s where I got this stuff from anyways, so you might as well go straight to the source. I think I’m done now, though. I’m just excited for what the future holds, and I know that I won’t be disappointed considering who holds the future in His hand.