silver lining

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!).

–her hairstyle.

–give out less stickers (you give out too many stickers!).

–how fast she talks (slow down so we can understand you!)

–her fashion

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 niceness.

–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.

–her face.

(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?

12 thoughts on “silver lining

  1. Liza Tucker

    Carol Anne, I would love to have some of your ideas for your Advent calendar. I love that you are filling their eternal sides versus just their human sides. This is the first year I am trying to do Advent and I think I’ve made it WAY too hard (an activity every evening). Like I said, I would love your ideas and thoughts.

    Marla, my silver lining is that although I have three kids under five that have this dag-blasted thing called a sin nature, they love each other so much As soon as her 7-week old brother starts to cry, my two year old instantly brings him her three most prized possessions.

  2. Meghan

    That was a really good message, thank you. My silver lining is God’s grace. I’ve been praying that I could forgive, and I finally have. Praise!

  3. Carol Anne

    We are making a third less than what we did two years ago. It gets worse every day. Instead of filling the little doors in my girls’ Advent calendar with little trinkets (Christmas bracelets, smal toys, etc.) I fill them with a card describing a piece of their Nativity and they go on a hunt. When the piece is found, they also find a printed note with the corresponding Bible passage of the day in Advent. Along with it, I explain various things (what a manger is, what it would be like to see an angel come out of Heaven, etc.) and remind the girls to remember throughout their day, what Advent is really about. They are having fun with it and my oldest wants to make an Advent book with hers. My silver lining is that we are spending way less money and we are really focusing on our spirituality. It was hard initially not to shop for them or pick up little baubles when I would see them. But now, it is so much more rewarding to sit down each night and reflect upon what I want to teach them the next day. Sorry for being so wordy…. 🙂

  4. Ali

    Beautiful post.

    The silver lining today? My kids clingy-mommy-mommy-mommy-I-need-you-now-now-now might drive me bonkers but it means that we have a special mother-child bond.

  5. Krysten

    I was in a car accident that has prevented me from being able to work for the past two months and I won’t be able to work for the next two months. My silver linning is that being unable to work has provided me more time to spend with husband and family.

  6. Gail

    I think I did a similar kind of survey while student teaching. (The high school juniors I taught were not as enamored by my face.) But I totally get what you’re saying about our tendency to overlook the positives.

    In my life, I have a particular spiritual battle regarding obedience with food, not letting it be an idol. It is a painful area of my life, and God has used it mightily to bless me as I minister to others and to teach me about His unfailing love. I may hate my pants size, but I love my God.

  7. Kelli

    He knew that my first born would become a handful these days and maybe I needed a little more time. My silver lining is time, time to enjoy sweet Caroline.

  8. janelle taviano

    $ 700.00 unexpected – $$ from Jackie Miller to be one step closer – $10,800.00 – in purchasing 5 acres of land in Africa ! What is on our path is up to Him… keep the blindfold on and keep walking… ! KEEP WALKING !

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