Silver lining: An element of hope or a redeeming quality in the midst of a difficult situation.
I got an e-mail this afternoon (right before the girls got home from school) that punched me in the gut. I prayed for strength and did my best to clear my mind of nothing but Birthday Fun. We had a sweet time, and as I tucked my nine-year-old into bed, I asked her if she liked her birthday. “Yes! I just wish it was longer!” (THANK YOU for her sweet birthday wishes!)
I read the e-mail again–with my pessimist radar that can skim positives without noticing them, yet sees negatives in bold, highlighted font. I spent some time in prayer, some time in the Psalms (David always makes me feel better about my life), some time journaling. And when I read the e-mail again, yes, some of it still stung, but I started thinking, “This isn’t so bad. There’s still plenty of room for God to work. And how many times in my life has He shut door after door after door, just to make THE DOOR that much more obvious when He throws it wide open?”
I was reminded of my student teaching experience in Okinawa (the following is a condensed excerpt from this book).
Eager for some form of tangible feedback, I created a survey and passed it out to all my students. I tried to ask questions that gave them a chance to respond both positively and negatively. Didn’t want to give myself a big head.
One Thing Miss Yoder Should Change is…
–to notice more things. (I did lots of bad things Ms. Rice would’ve known like chewing gum.)
–her volume (you talk too loud!).
–give out less stickers (you give out too many stickers!).
–how fast she talks (slow down so we can understand you!)
My first reaction when I read their comments was that I was a complete and total failure. Why had I even bothered coming to Okinawa (with its 100-degree weather and 150% humidity that made it impossible to do anything with my “hairstyle!”) in the first place? Why was I working so hard to become a teacher anyway? Teaching? Rewarding? Ha!
After feeling sorry for myself for a couple days, I decided to look back through the surveys one more time. I had to laugh as I realized that in the midst of all the negative comments were many, many positive ones. And the very things some viewed as negative, others thought were great.
One Thing Miss Yoder Should Never Change Is…
–how happy she always is.
–her loud announcer voice.
–her personality and attitude.
–her clearness of explaining.
–taking time to explain things to students until they know how to do it.
–the way she makes me laugh.
–her kindness and caring for the students.
(The last one was my personal favorite.) But see? I wasted two whole days moaning about the negative stuff. And this e-mail I got today? A little more weighty than a dumb student teaching survey. But not life-or-death. I can either mope whenever I meet with the slightest criticism or resistance. Or I can look for the silver lining.
The Bible is full of silver linings. God specializes in silver linings. In fact, I can’t think of a single story in the Bible where the main character just sailed right through his/her entire scene. There’s always some trial or trouble (lion, flood, giant, storm, beating, not-so-encouraging e-mail) to deal with first, right?
I’m not giving up hope. I’m clinging to what I know to be true–that God has a plan for my life that will bring Him much glory. And that plan doesn’t kick in when “I finally realize my dreams.” I’m living His plan right this second, and by joy, I’m going to have a good attitude about it.
What silver lining can you see in your circumstances today?