We all have had “one of those days,” days when it seems nothing goes our way and it seems like the whole world has conspired against us.
On those days, we perceive and experience everything through a hazy pall of shadow and dust. Even as I write these words, it strikes me as being comical and overly dramatic.
It brings to mind the iconic children’s book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” The book’s author, Judith Viorst, did an amazing job painting a hyper-dramatic picture of the ultimate day gone wrong. And if we’re honest, we’ve all been there.
Like most bad days, Alexander’s “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” starts before he even steps foot out of bed. The poor boy fell asleep with gum in his mouth and awakens with gum in his hair. Upon exiting his bed, he trips on a skateboard. And as he is getting dressed, he drops his favorite sweater in the sink with the water running. To add insult to injury, his two brothers discover prizes in their cereal boxes, while he finds nothing but cereal in his cereal box.
Against all odds, the story is all downhill from there. Nothing goes Alexander’s way, and Alexander himself provides the tragic play by play of his “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”
As I was reflecting on this story, a question came into my mind. Did Alexander experience the mother of all bad days because the world was against him? Or did Alexander create the calamitous catastrophe through his own attitude and actions?
I think the answer to the aforementioned questions is found in the first half of the story. Alexander’s refrain for the first third of the story is “I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” While there were certainly aspects of his day that happen by accident or as the result of external players, every part of his day is polluted by his own negative perspective.
“Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” days are an unfortunate part of life no matter who or where we are, as Alexander’s mom wisely explains to him at the end of the story. But could it be that at least on some occasions, our own outlooks and attitudes serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy that we then live into?
I’m not suggesting some magical “power of positive thinking,” whereby we create our own good fortune. I do, however, believe the attitudes with which we approach each aspect of every day will play a part in our perception of those experiences, which will determine whether we believe them to be good or bad.
Let’s consider the start to Alexander’s day once more. Sure, Alexander got out of bed with gum in his hair, but he had a warm bed in which to sleep. It’s unfortunate Alexander dropped his sweater into the sink with the water running, but he had running water and clothes to wear. We can understand Alexander’s disappointment that his brothers found prizes in their cereal boxes while he didn’t, but he had food to eat and family with which to eat it.
At every turn, Alexander’s misfortune is couched in a greater blessing. In truth, Alexander’s “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” was in large part the result of his own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad attitude and his inability to see the good in each moment.
In I Thessalonians 5:16-18, it reads, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.”
Every day will not be the best day ever. Some days won’t feel good. But even on our terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, there is joy to be found, there is blessing for which to be thankful and there is a gracious and merciful God who has a plan and a purpose in and through it all and will see us to the other side.
May we each morning join with the psalmist in declaring, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at jeremysmyers.com. Send comments to [email protected].