“I kicked a pile of dog poop in flip flops today. How was your day?” A friend of mine posted that on Facebook one day. Certainly not the most pleasant image I’ve ever conjured up. I’m pretty sure such an event would get my day started off on a sour note.
How often have you heard someone say, “I’m having a bad day”? More times than you can count, I would imagine. I can recall saying it a few thousand times myself. It’s become a well-worn, overused phrase.
What really constitutes a bad day, though? And, if you’re really having a bad day, what one incident would turn the worst day into a good one? Is it even possible to turn a bad day into one that is worth living?
White Girl Problems
Most of the time, our bad days (at least my bad days) aren’t nearly as unbearable as we make them out to be. Kicking dog poop in flip-flops probably doesn’t make a day untenable (as much as I’d hate for that to happen to me). People have come up with some clever lines for such problems.
You’ve probably heard some of them. They are called “First world problems,” “white girl problems,” or “I wish I had your problems.” Only specific people can use certain of these phrases with impunity, but everyone has at least one they can pull out when necessary.
I was having one of those “bad” days recently when I saw a video of a homeless encampment. The people were enduring sub-freezing temperatures in tents, and they were within driving distance of where I live (all warm and snuggled by my living room fireplace). All of a sudden, my day didn’t seem bad at all. By comparison, I was having a great day.
On the other hand, once I saw that video, it really ruined my day. It ruined my day because I now knew of fellow human beings who needed my help. I tried shrugging it off, but I couldn’t. There were things I could do, and I couldn’t deny it.
Have a Nice Day
It would have been easy to say, “It’s not my problem.” It would have been somewhat truthful to say, “There’s not much I can do.” I could also have said, “I’m surrounded by such problems every day. I can’t fix every one of them.” After all, even Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you…” (Matthew 26:11). Of course, I don’t dare quote that one in context. It would blow my whole argument.
The fact is, these sorts of things ARE my problem. There ARE things I can do. And even if I can’t fix everything, I can certainly fix a few things. (Are these thoughts causing your day to go south?)
I don’t know how many actual bad days I’ve ever really had. In fact, I might have never had a truly bad day. The next time I think I’m having one, I’m going to kick some dog poop just to make sure.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]