Do you ever experience those periods in your life when the bad seems to outweigh the good, when a sense of heaviness holds you back, and when you just can't see past the problems on your plate? It happens to me sometimes. Recently, when I was feeling particularly down and perturbed, engrossed by the problems which were facing me, so much so that I was actually considering borrowing my daughter's flannels which have "cranky pants" written down the side, I turned to prayer for answers and discovered the following:
I read an article, Choosing Good as the Reality, written by Heather Bauer. Ms. Bauer described a scene which captured my attention and lifted the black cloud which was threatening to blanket me and consume my thinking. She described the following, which I will paraphrase here.
A young mother looked out her kitchen window at her two-year-old, sitting on the grass under a blossoming tree with a red balloon in each hand and two puppies playing in his lap. He was smiling and giggling happily. She smiled to herself at the joyfulness of the scene in front of her.
Minutes later she looked up again and was greeted with an entirely different picture. One of the red balloons had popped and her toddler was crying and red-faced, trying to put the pieces of the balloon back together again. The puppies were tugging on the string which was now strewn on the ground. The happy scene had disappeared and was replaced with one of loss and despair.
The mother then tapped gently on the window and when her little boy looked up, she pointed to the other balloon still floating in the breeze above his head. He looked up and, at the sight of the other balloon, once again began to smile and giggle. Joy returned to the scene and the mother was cheered because her little one had chosen the good.
When I read this account, I too was uplifted. I realized that in spite of all the good surrounding me, I was choosing to focus on what wasn't working. I couldn't see past my problems. My outlook was self-selected. How often do we do this? What are we choosing as our perspective, our reality? How consistently are we choosing the good? And are we remembering to point out to each other the good we are seeing, every day?
I think of St. Martin's, where good is prevalent. And of our students, 8-week-olds through twelfth-graders, who are growing up in a happy, academically rich, activity-packed, and love-filled environment. And in spite of the occasional poor grades, games lost, limits stretched, and balloons broken--the events which would try to consume their thinking--they are reminded that they are surrounded by good, sheltered and safe. This is what bolsters them. What better environment could there be than ours for our students to try their wings, test their limits, challenge their assumptions, and make their mistakes? How wonderful it is that they attend a school in which they are spiritually nourished and thoughtfully mentored.
We all have days and times when we need to be reminded to look up and choose the good. This is the lesson we need to be teaching our children. We need to instill in them the desire and capacity to work through their struggles with an eye toward the outcome. They need to recognize that their challenges are opportunities. We shouldn't always swoop in and save them. Sometimes we just need to tap on the window and point to the good. We need to teach them not to get bogged down in the heaviness, but to see the lighter path, the one which sets aside the negative and opens their eyes to the good surrounding them. We need to teach them the ability to look up and grab on to all that is enduring, good, and true.
"Choosing good as the reality" by Heather Bauer The Christian Science Journal, November 2015