Friday, October 18, 2013

We can shine brighter on cloudy days

It was very dark on Wednesday morning when my friends picked me up for the fly-fishing trip. The drive took us through some very remote and rural areas and the darkness was even more noticeable. At one point on the trip, I noticed a very bright, rather large light on the horizon. It was too early for sunrise and I wasn’t sure what was causing the brightness. Hmmm….I wondered. I asked my friends where they thought the glow was coming from as they had traveled this route many times before. Cathy said, “Oh those are the lights of the city many miles away. You can really notice them this morning because it’s so cloudy and the lights are bouncing off the clouds.”   Made sense I suppose, and because I have lived in the “woods” for so long and am so far away from any city, I guess I had forgotten what that looked like.  I didn’t really think much more about it, though, because my mind was cluttered with anticipation about the fishing adventure. That is, until yesterday.

I had a meeting at the other campus yesterday afternoon so I had to make the drive down to Mt. Pleasant. It was a very dreary, rainy day, but as I made my way, I noticed how vibrant the colors of the trees were against the dark, gray sky. Some of them looked like they were on fire. It really was spectacular considering we are at the “past peak” point in the autumn color display.  Hmmm…… I began to think and ponder.  Most people always think of taking “color tours” on bright sunny days because the sun bouncing off the trees is very beautiful. I am no exception, but that’s twice in the last 2 days that God pointed out something to me in nature.

 I wondered what He was trying to teach me….and as I pondered a bit, I began to think about my own life and those times when it was filled with “darkness”, “rain”, “stormy weather”…..heartache, pain, sickness, grief.  Could it be that it is in “those times” when we have the opportunity to ‘shine’ the most….to show our ‘true colors” …or “rise to the occasion and do what we have to do” if you will?  Could it be in those times of difficulty, temptation, sadness…..those times when we struggle and think God has abandoned us….when God’s love shines the brightest?  I thought about all the times when God sent people in my life…to help, encourage, support, pray for and love me, just at a time when I needed it most. I wondered how many times I didn’t notice it….because I wasn’t looking for it….because I was looking for a bright sunny day…..because I was concentrating and focusing only on the “darkness” or the “storm?”  I began to do some self-reflection and I asked myself:

How do I react when I have a bad day; do I take it out on those around me?

How do I handle days when I don’t feel well; do I complain?

How do I handle temptation; do I justify and rationalize my way through; do I give up and quit because it’s too hard…or do I remain strong and allow my determination for a healthier life to win?

How do I handle disappointment; do I pout and act childish?

How do I behave when something good happens to others; do I share in their joy or become jealous/envious?

There is so much room for improvement in my life. Thank God that each day is a new opportunity to do better!

I wish I could tell you that every day since I have begun this journey 2 ½ years ago has been easy. I wish I could tell you that I wasn’t tempted to give up; that I didn’t want to quit. I wish I could tell you that it was easy to sit and watch my family eat cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve or pass around those little hotdogs wrapped in dough at the campfire. I wish I could tell you that I didn’t go through struggles with relationships when some in my life became jealous. I wish I could tell you that I don’t have to make the decision….EVERY….SINGLE….DAY….to keep going, to keep motivated.  I can’t.  But I can tell you, that IT IS SO UNBELIEVABLY WORTH IT!!!!  

Clouds, rain, darkness…..disappointment, hurt, pain, sickness, temptation and failure are a part of life. We can’t escape it……but from this day forward…. I am going to try to look at it in a different way. I am going to try, when those ‘not so great days” arrive, to remember the lights of that unknown city….shining brighter than usual because it was “cloudy and dark”…..and the glory of those autumn trees….glowing brighter than ever….because it was raining…..and I am going to look a little bit harder to see God’s presence. Even more important, I am going to try to let my “true colors” shine a bit brighter…on ALL DAYS….so that it might light up others’ lives when they are experiencing the tough times.

Don’t give up if you are facing a rainy day. Don’t quit because you had a bad day. Don’t throw in the towel if you went off track or gained a few pounds. Don’t get discouraged if others are losing weight and you are not. Don’t despair if you struggled or ate a donut for breakfast….Look for the light....and KEEP TRYING!  This is your time to SHINE! You can do it. YOU CAN…and YOU WILL….CHANGE YOUR LIFE… day….one thought….one step….one meal….at a time!
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