Updated: Jan 11, 2021
Ingredients in a Good Day
"Today is a good day for a good day."
Yeah, I like this. And given that Magnolia Market now inspires the walls, floors, cabinets, coffee tables, and mantels of our homes, offices and spaces from Texas to New Hampshire, it's probably safe to say you do, too. I like the optimism and choice held within these words. There's hope. There's intention.
But, what exactly makes for a good day?
I was once asked at work how I measure a successful day. Being the task-oriented, efficient, goal-planner, type A, connector that I am, I was certain in what this meant for me. I confidently answered, "Productivity. Forward progress in a project or a conversation that leads to greater understanding." You see, in my work in the software industry I get to solve problems for a living. A good day is a day with more answers than problems.
At first glance, not a bad answer. But, I'm wrong.
Shoot. I hate being wrong.
How Do You Measure a Successful Day?
Maybe it's a day when you get to cross everything off your to-do list. Or, when you get to stick with plan A instead of B, C, D, or Z.
Maybe it's when you can actually sit down to a meal without your two year old throwing a fit.
Maybe when your hair doesn't go flat before lunch or when your pants button without the dreaded and disappointing squeeze.
When your team wins.
When you get the promotion.
When the car starts.
When your insecurity doesn't get the best of you and you don't pick the totally unnecessary fight with your spouse on your way out the door in the morning.
When you are recognized for your efforts.
When others see things in the same light as you.
When you don't get a call from your doctor for a follow-up on your test result.
When your teenager doesn't make you question your parenting decisions.
When travel plans go smoothly. (As I'm writing, the pilot informs me and the other passengers onboard we are being redirected to a nearby airport due to inclement weather. And you know what this means? I will miss my connection. This is not the smooth, quick connection I anticipated. Not at all.)
When the bills get paid.
When there are no unwanted surprises.
When the laundry is finally caught up.
When you win in Farkle.
When the post gets X number of likes.
When others accept and affirm us.
And ya know, you'd be wrong, too.
Sorry to step on your toes there. But, in all fairness, I stepped on my own first. (Which, if you think about it, stepping on your own feet probably means I tripped and fell flat on my face. Such a graceful start to the blog, isn't it?)
Sure, all these things are nice. But that's just it. They're a nice-to-have. Not an accurate measurement for a good day.
Gosh. We need to give ourselves a break!
What if we stopped being so critical of ourselves and those around us? What if we traded the yardstick of perfection for one of grace? What if we measure the day not by the productivity achieved or lack of failures involved, but by the strength, joy, and peace it held?
One of my favorite poems, written by Jodi Hill, illustrates this concept so beautifully. She uses "she" throughout, but for us, I'm going to change this to "they."
They weren't where they had been. They weren't where they were going ...but they were on their way. And on their way they enjoyed food that wasn't fast, friendships that held, hearts glowing, hearts breaking, smiles that caught tears, paths trudged and alleys skipped. And on their way they no longer looked for the answers, but held close the two things they knew for sure. One, if a day carried strength in the morning, peace in the evening, and a little joy in between, it was a good one... and two, you can live completely without complete understanding. - Jodi Hill
Strength in the Morning
Depending on your season of life and the margin in your day, this will look different for all of us. Strength comes in many forms. Sometimes I wake up early enough for a run and an uplifting podcast. Most days I opt for more sleep. Sometimes I read a psalm or other scripture at my kitchen table while I eat a bowl of cereal. Other times, strength is found in a worship song as I curl my hair, or a short, #JesusCalling daily devotional as I eat the last few bites of my cereal from a cup in the parking lot before rushing into work.
Remember the yardstick of grace? Gosh, we need it.
Strength from truth and prayer - in any form - sermon, scripture, devotional, song - is supernatural strength to endure. With it, we can endure the unknown - the courageous climbs and the unforeseen lows ahead, the sharp turns to the right and the detours down the back road - because we have Him. He is our Rock.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. - Psalm 91:1
Whoever dwells in Him will rest in His presence.
I want that, and I bet you do, too.
Joy in Between
Not happiness. Joy. What is joy? I like how Rick Warren defines it. He says,
Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright and the determined choice to praise God in every situation. - Rick Warren
Joy is the settled assurance, the quiet confidence and the determined choice to praise - let that soak in.
Because when fears knock at the door of our hearts, we choose to run to Him. We choose to remember God is in control. He's got me. He's got you. He orchestrated the beautiful details of creation, and He is orchestrating the details of our lives to bring glory to His name, too.
When we run to Him, we see our circumstances through the lens of grace. Grace through faith. The natural response is praise!
I'm reminded of Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch watchmaker who helped Jews escape the Nazis during WWII. While enduring the incredibly inhumane conditions of Nazi oppression in prison, her sister, Betsi, (much to Corrie's surprise) chose to be thankful for the fleas in their quarters.
Thankful for fleas?! I know right. It sounds absurd!
Corrie later realized the power of this prayer as the fleas served as God's protection and kept the guard from entering their space, thereby allowing Corrie to keep her beloved Bible, which she used to strengthen her soul and those around her in the long, dark, and lonely days of imprisonment.
So I have to ask - what are the fleas surrounding and seeming to muddle and disturb your days? How could God use this for your good and His glory? Joy is often disguised, requiring the lens of grace. Grace through faith.
Peace in the Evening
Again, there is not one right way. Find what works for you. God is in our waking, our working, our walking, our eating, our playing, our singing, our moving, our sleeping, our breathing. Brian Doerksen sings a song about this; it’s called Everything.
God in my living, there in my breathing God in my waking, God in my sleeping God in my resting, there in my working God in my thinking, God in my speaking Be my everything, be my everything -Brian Doerksen, Everything
We find our peace in Him. And, if He is in us and around us and with us - lasting, refreshing peace is not out of reach for us. It's right here for us.
We turn our focus to Him on the commute home, or we go on a reflecting evening walk, or maybe we take a few moments to soak in God's creation while watering the plants and flowers. Maybe we have an uplifting conversation with our spouse or a friend, or we play catch with a son or daughter in the backyard, maybe a hymn while washing your face, or a scripture and humble prayer before bed. Again, grace.
And peace. We slow down for a moment and find thankfulness building within our hearts.
Seek and You Will Find
Rest. Recorded in the book of Matthew, Jesus gives us a promise. He says,
Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. - Matthew 7:7
I think when we know this - when we truly know this - we are seeking the One thing that we truly need, it means that we have to let go of everything else.
So, we let go of our need for productivity and "success" and striving. We let go of our need for answers and understanding. We let go of our failures and shame. We lay these at the foot of the cross.
And we hold on to the One with the answers. Yes, my friend, we find rest. The beautiful rest our souls long for - we find it in Him.
So as I was saying, my flight, well it finally touched down in my desired destination 14 hours later than expected. And normally, I would call that a bad, terrible, no good day. Truly, rewind a year nearly to the day and you'd see me in a similar situation with a return flight from Boston redirected to St. Louis (still hundreds of miles away from my home in Oklahoma) with tears painting my face in the isolation and fatigue of an empty rental car facility in an unknown city after midnight.
I was overwhelmed. And I couldn’t help but think of Steve Martin's character Neal Page in the 1987 comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I had a whole new level of respect for this movie. I feel the weariness and utter disbelief grow as John Candy's character, Del Griffith, delivers the distressing news. I felt like he was sitting right there next to me saying, "There's no way on earth we're getting out of here tonight. We'd have more luck playing pick-up sticks with our butt cheeks than we will getting out of here before daybreak." Needless to say, no joy. Not even from remembering a solid, perfectly executed John Candy line. Nope. No peace either. No pick-up sticks to even test my luck. Just frustration. And a lot of it.
But, not this time. Praise be to God!
Now, I choose to look through the lens of grace.
Strength in a passage of scripture from reading 1 Kings this morning. Joy in the provision of a new friend from Louisiana with which to endure the sleepless airport night (thankfully she was not an annoying and overly friendly shower ring salesman). Peace in the margin provided in Seat 23A and an extra dose - an extra large dose - an overnight dose - by Gate D40.
Yes, today is a good day for a good day, indeed.
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!