Where's Your Focus?
First off, my apologies to those grammar experts reading this article. You are about to see some things that may cause you to twinge a bit. So, set your red pens aside, relax, and enjoy a playful look at how our days (and our lives) sometimes flow.
I heard about a delightful children’s book written several years ago titled Fortunately, that prompted me to consider how we approach the ups and downs of life. So, here’s a snapshot of a recent day I experienced. It may stir a few thoughts (perhaps a chuckle or two) as you think about your own life experiences.
Fortunately, I enjoyed a great day.
Unfortunately, the time was late and I was tired, so I had to stop what I was enjoying and go to bed.
Fortunately, I have a comfortable bed.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have long to sleep because I had to get up early the next morning.
Fortunately, I have an alarm clock.
Unfortunately, it woke me up with an irritating buzz.
Fortunately, I preset the coffee pot the night before.
Unfortunately, I don’t have room service.
Fortunately, it was worth the trip to the kitchen to begin the day with a fresh cup of coffee.
Unfortunately, I barely had time for a quick cup before I had to hurriedly prepare for the day ahead.
Fortunately, I planned a day that would be both productive and fun, including time with friends.
Unfortunately, I needed to clean the house before company arrived.
Fortunately, my husband helped me get things in order.
Unfortunately, we had no snacks to serve our friends.
Fortunately, my husband went to the store while I got ready.
Unfortunately, his taste in snacks is unusual.
Fortunately, so are the tastes of our friends.
Unfortunately, the time passed all too quickly.
Fortunately, we always enjoy our time with them so the evening overflowed with love and laughter.
Unfortunately, we had to clean the kitchen after they left.
Fortunately, we have a dishwasher.
Unfortunately, it was full of dirty dishes.
Fortunately, we worked together and it didn’t take us long to finish.
Unfortunately, it was late, I was exhausted, and I knew I would have another early morning start.
Fortunately, I have a comfortable bed.
Unfortunately, I had to set an alarm that has annoying buzz.
So tell me, have you had days like that one? Of course you have; we all have experienced that duo. Days filled with both “fortunatelies” and “unfortunatelies.” Times when plans unfold easily, things flow smoothly, and we encounter numerous pockets of satisfaction, joy and even laughter. Yet, our days also have “unfortunatelies” in them. Times when distractions veer us off course, irritations annoy us, unexpected obstacles challenge our plans, and disappointments attempt to rob us of joy.
I just wonder: Do we approach our days, knowing we will encounter both “fortunatelies” and “unfortunatelies?” If so, do we take time to recognize and enjoy the “fortunatelies?” There are a lot of them around, you know. Obvious treasures we plan and prepare for, unexpected surprises we encounter, and little nuggets of joy we would miss if we didn’t look carefully and deliberately for them. Or, do we just zip right by them in our attempt to pack all we can into our day? Do we take them for granted? Do we minimize their value? Do we consider them lucky happenstances? Or, do we count them as blessings from God?
And what about the “unfortunatelies” that come along? Like it or not, no matter how well we try to avoid them, they do find their way into our lives. Sometimes we see them coming, while at other times they catch us off guard. Sometimes they come with a bang and other times with a whisper. Do we meet them with shock? Do we approach them with dread or fear? Do we sit in the midst of them with frustration, disappointment, even anger? Or do we accept them as reality and see them as the part of life we must press on through?
What about today? What “fortunatelies” have you experienced and what “unfortunatelies” have you met along your path? And, most importantly, how have you responded to both? What has captured your attention? What has influenced your attitude? And what has driven your conversations and actions? What will you ponder as you lay your head on your pillow tonight?
Unfortunately, life does hold disappointments, heartaches, and losses. Sometimes they come because we’ve made wrong choices and must endure consequences. Other times, they come because … well, there are times when we don’t really know why they come, do we? And yet, fortunately, God tells us He loves us as His children and has a plan for our lives. If we commit our lives to Him, He promises to be with us through the ups and downs that come. With His love, His compassion, His mercy, and His grace, He will provide for our needs, guide our steps, and bless our faithfulness.
David wrote numerous psalms that spoke about many such times He experienced in his own life. He knew great joys, victories, and blessings. And he also suffered difficulties, heartaches, and fears. As we read the book of Psalms in the Old Testament, we hear him share psalms of pain and struggle. We also read psalms of assurance that remind us of the peace that comes when we celebrate God’s love for us, express gratitude for His goodness to us, and place our trust in His promises. Listen to David’s words in Psalm 23 (New International Version):
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Unfortunately (or, perhaps, fortunately?), I’ve come to the end of this article and you’ll need to finish this story for yourself. I pray that as you do so, you’ll go through your days with the eyes of your mind and heart wide open to all the “fortunatelies” along your path. Then, as you face the challenges, may you also experience and celebrate the blessings God has in store for those who love Him and place their lives in His hands.
Copyright © Nancy Williams. Used by permission.