Have you ever thought, I’m almost there! Only to realize that you’ve still got so far to go?
I went to a waterpark recently. I’m a big believer in amusement parks with roller coasters. Waterslides, not so much.
My son, Charlie, is a fan of all things fast and tall, so I put on my three piece swimming suit (top, bottom and never-to-be-removed coverup) and loaded the towels into the minivan.
I am a pretty positive person, but I haven’t always been. I know how important thoughts are in our lives, so I’m careful not to dwell on negative phrases that come into my head, and I don’t stick around for negative conversations.
I’m also a pretty non-judgmental person, but I haven’t always been. I have a self-critical vein that runs deep and sometimes it transfers onto other people. But the good news is, when we know certain things about ourselves, we can often shoo them away before they hurt others.
Waterparks can bring out the best in us. They can remind us we are brave as we plunge down a slide taller than a house, and they can bond relationships with the glue of laughter as we trail along the family fun slide.
But they can also bring out the worst in us. Or at least in me. All day long, sitting at that waterpark, I had to cast off thoughts that threatened to cover the day in storm clouds.
It’s only 10am. How can these bathrooms look this gross already? And how can every stall be out of toilet paper?
That lady should not be wearing that swimming suit. Who told her that was a good idea?
I just paid $20 for a burger and fries and it’s cold. I should seriously complain.
I think we all have experiences in our lives — every day– that call for us to find the good instead of focusing on the bad.
Mine was most recently at a waterpark. Where was yours? Work? A family gathering? A restaurant that didn’t live up to its four-and-a-half star Tripadvisor rating?
Today’s verse is a good one to keep in mind when we need to see the good in our given situation. It reminds us that God is here, in our midst, when we react to our surroundings with kindness.
“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:12 (NIV)
I went to the ice cream shop after downing the bad burger. I ordered and paid for a cup of Reese’s peanut butter ice cream, but then decided at the last minute that I really wanted chocolate chips on top.
As I handed over my credit card once again, the sweet young manager behind the counter smiled and said, “No, no. It’s on us.”
God was in his smile.
When I was gathering my towels and struggled with the one stuck under a lounge chair, the man sitting next to me got up and untangled my mayhem.
God was in his hands.
And when Charlie came bounding up to me to tell me about the incredible day he was having, I could see it…
God was in his heart.
I still have a long way to go until I can be declared “negative and judgmental free.” Who knows, I may never get there this side of heaven, but at least God has taught me to keep my mouth shut (most of the time) until I arrive.
That’s a good place to start when we’re hoping to see God in the midst of our mess.