A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog had this advice – “Life is not always what one wants it to be, but make the best of it, as it is the only way of being happy.” (Lady Randolph Churchill)
That advice seems to pair well with an earlier post to the same blog – “When things go wrong, consider what went right.” (Kristen Jordan Shamus)
I chose to title this post “Consider the alternative…” because too many of us go there without considering it. Rather than follow the advice of those two quotes, we have a tendency to wallow in self-pity or to seek to blame others for our failures or the calamities that may befall us. Some turn to drugs or alcohol in tough times. Because we go there, rather than heading Lady Churchill’s advice we descend into depression or live an unhappy life, convinced that somehow life is being unfair to us.
The advice that Kristen Shamus gave in her quote is really a key to achieving the happiness that Lady Churchill was speaking of when she advised to make the best of things as they are. When one stops to consider what went right in the face of disaster or failure, the starting point should be to be thankful that you are still here to consider what when right. First off, whatever it was that you just went through didn’t kill you; you’re still here. So, that went right. Second, if you stop and think about it, you learned something from the experience. Somewhere in the back of your mind is a little “Don’t do that again” Post It note that has been added to your knowledge base. So, you have gained in wisdom. The third thing is that you are now on a different path than you were on. Whether you have weathered a disaster or a failure, things will never be the same and you must now head in some new direction with your life. Maybe what went right there is that you finally have stopped progressing down a path that was sure to lead to an outcome that was not good.
Sometimes life’s disasters or failures bring people back to God. The curve balls that life throws at us can become so overwhelming that we finally admit to ourselves that we can’t handle them and turn back to the one power in the universe that can handle anything – God. At the point at which we surrender to the will of God, rather than continue our foolish fight against the impossible or inevitable, we are given the power to see what went right and find happiness by making the best of things as they are. You really don’t have to understand what God’s plan for you is; you just need to accept that He has one and that, in the end, everything will be alright. You can give up your anger, your pain and your frustrations with what has happened and say, “Thy will be done.” The immediate release that you will feel will allow you to re-focus on what has gone right in your life and what (and who) is really important.
When you stop to consider the alternative (continuing to be angry or sad or hurt or frustrated or disappointed), finding a way to let go, by inviting God back into your life is a pretty appealing alternative. But, don’t expect that every issue that you offload to God will immediately go away or be solved. Rather, find comfort in this quote from Patricia Heaton – “I have to keep reminding myself: If you give your life to God, he doesn’t promise you happiness and that everything will go well. But he does promise you peace. You can have peace and joy, even in bad circumstances.” How comforting is the thought of being at peace even in the face of adversity.
One of my favorite people here in my little town is our local Methodist pastor, Doug McMunn. Doug often uses the phrase “Be at peace” when discussing situations that are difficult. I think that is great advice and the way to find that peace is through your belief and trust in God. So, when life doesn’t go the way that you had hoped, make the best of it by considering what went right and making the best of it – be at peace.