Faith, Family, Friends, Food

Count It All Joy

I love my life.  I really do.  I have a wonderful husband. I have two great teenage kids.  I have a job that I really, really love.  I have a beautiful home with two sweet dogs.  Both of my parents are still in good health.  My brother and I actually like each other now.

It’s hard to complain when I have so much to be thankful for.  It’s hard to imagine ever having a bad day when I’m surrounded by so many blessings.

But it happens.

There are days when I just wake up in a dirty blue funk. 

Sometimes it’s because I didn’t get a good night’s sleep.  Sometimes it’s because of something that happened the day before.  Sometimes it’s because of something coming up that I’m dreading.

Sometimes there is absolutely no reason for my sour mood.  None. 

I’m just in a really bad mood for no apparent reason.

Why?

I have no idea. 

I only know that when you’re a mom, you don’t have the luxury of wallowing in your mess.  Is that really a luxury?  Anyway, you don’t have time for that.  At least I don’t. 

My bad mood does not trump the fact that I have people and puppies depending on me.  I still get up, let the dogs out, feed them, and let them out again. 

I still make my kids’ breakfast.  Yes, I know they’re old enough to do that for themselves, but I only have a few more years to do mom stuff before they are no longer under this roof. 

I still make sure Elizabeth is up and getting ready for school – a task I wish on no one.  She is…let’s just say “not at her best” in the morning.  She is a grump.  A really mean grump.  And she hates getting up in the morning. 

When I get to school, I have to put my bad mood aside because those sweet kids don’t need to know that I’m having a bad morning. They deserve my best.  So I will staple on a smile and act like everything’s fine.

And it usually is.  There’s something about spending the day pretending everything okay that somehow lightens your mood.  By the end of the school day, I usually do feel better.  Whatever funk I had has disappeared.

But not always.

There are days when I come home from school, start dinner, and then go sit on the edge of the bathtub and cry – or just sit there and not think for a few minutes.

And I may have painted a rosy picture in the first paragraph, but let’s get real:

Michael and I love each other, but we still argue. Heated discussions. Raised voices. Slammed doors. Angry silence.

My kids are great, but no teenager is easy. Teenage girls are hardheaded, loud, easily hacked off over nothing, and prone to tears – again over nothing. Teenage boys can also be loud and can also be thoughtlessly reckless. Mine is 19, so he’s at that age where he shifts fluidly from “I’m an adult. I shouldn’t have to ask you.” to “Mama, can you go with me to Urgent Care?”

And I’m not sure when I became so stupid. I actually had a better-than-average intelligence before I had kids. I was in gifted classes in elementary, junior high, and high school. I scored pretty high on the ACT. I have a college degree. But my kids think I’m an idiot. In fact, some of their eye rolls and comments make me wonder how I even get through the day without consulting them!

My house is beautiful, but I’m a horrible housekeeper, so it’s usually a mess.

Our dogs are precious, but Patriot sheds so much that when I sweep, there’s enough hair to make another dog! And Brees still stubbornly refuses to poop outside on most days.

While I love my job and the children I have the privilege to teach, it is a tough job. It is demanding, mentally taxing, and physically exhausting.

Any of those things – or any combination of them – can make me feel inadequate as a parent or spouse or teacher. And they can absolutely contribute to my dirty blue funk.

Why do we have bad days?  Why do we let the anxieties and stresses of the world get to us?

The Bible tells us that these bad days are tests from God.  He’s trying to see if we will rely on Him instead of on ourselves. 

There’s even a verse that says we should count these trails as “pure joy” because the testing of our faith brings about perseverance – which helps us mature in our faith.  One version even says to “consider it a sheer gift.”

I’m not going to sugarcoat this and tell you that’s how I feel every time I have a bad day.  I go through plenty of “why me?” whines. 

It’s hard to look a bad day in the face and say, “Thanks , God!  What a gift!” I don’t think anybody can honestly say that they welcome a bad day with open arms and a great big smile.

It’s easier to sit on the edge of the tub and cry and think about how miserable you are. How you’ve been wronged. How you’ve been unappreciated. How the weight of the world has become too much for today.

But being grateful for each day – regardless of what kind of day it is – is exactly what the Bible tells us we’re supposed to do.

So I’m grateful for my job because it doesn’t allow me to dwell on the dirty blue funk.  It forces me to adopt that attitude of gratitude.

And I’m grateful that God gives me a new day each morning to start over.  We can’t always control whether or not we have a bad day.  But we can control how we respond to it.

Please don’t mistake my words as saying that depression and anxiety aren’t real and serious issues.  I know people who claim that most mental illness isn’t real and that you should just rely on God when you experience things like that.  I do not agree.  Yes, you should pray and rely on God in every circumstance, but mental illness of any kind is a serious issue.  If you feel that your “bad day” doesn’t go away and you are in a dark place that feels so overwhelming that you can’t get out, get help.  See a mental health professional.  If you have a sinus infection, you go to the doctor to get an antibiotic.  If you have high blood pressure, you go to the doctor and he will likely prescribe medicine.  If you’re a diabetic, your doctor may have to prescribe insulin.  And nobody ridicules you for that.  Taking medicine for a diagnosed mental health issue isn’t a sin and it doesn’t make you weak. So nobody should say a thing about taking medicine for a diagnosed mental health condition.

Okay, off my soapbox!

Saying that bad days are trials from God does not mean that you shouldn’t confront an issue that may have caused your bad day.  If you need to fix something, fix it.  If you need to tell someone they hurt your feelings, tell them.  If your daily schedule has become overwhelming, try to find ways to ease your load.  If you just need to call your best friend and vent, pick up your phone! Your “test” may be to see if you have “grace under fire.” Can you confront someone or something in a way that pleases God?

Remember, God sometimes gives us struggles to draw us closer to Him.  So don’t forget to pray when you’re in the middle of your bad day.  Thank Him for the trial and ask Him for guidance to make it better. And don’t forget to be still and listen for His response. It won’t likely be a response that you physically hear, but God’s voice comes in many forms. Instinct, intuition, an encouraging smile from a stranger that lifts your spirits. Advice from a friend. Situations resolving themselves. Coincidences are rarely accidental. God always has His hand in our lives.

An occasional bad day happens to everybody.  And if we can see if as a test or challenge from God, and consider it a gift that will help our faith grow, then maybe our bad day won’t be quite so bad.

Been there? Tell me about it in the comments. No judgement here!

James 1:2-8

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get His help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

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8 Comments

  1. Tiffani Gregory

    This! All of this! I really needed this!

    • mamacanilickthespoon

      I’m so glad this spoke to you!

  2. Chantay

    Thank you! Along with the sermon this morning this hits home. You are an amazing individual and I am thankful to call you friend! God bless You!!

    • mamacanilickthespoon

      Thank you, Chantay! Love you!

  3. Carla

    Your words in this blog are sheer joy! So many act like they lead a perfect life and we all know that no one does. However social media perpetuates the lie because you are only seeing snippets of their lives, the highlight reel. It’s easy to think that you’re the only one going through normal life issues and problems. And yes, depression is real. It’s a dark cast void where sometimes the next breath is hard. You don’t want to live one more breath because the pain and loneliness is horrible. I’ve been there too. Love your words but not as much as I love you, my friend. Call me anytime night or day when you need to vent to someone. And yes, always thank God for the blessings and trials on your life. Without those trials and low points, the highs don’t really mean anything.

    There are no coincidences.

    • mamacanilickthespoon

      Love you, too, sweet friend!

  4. Jennifer Ducote

    Oh my gosh! I SO needed this! Thanks for your openness – it makes me feel like I’m not the only one!

    • mamacanilickthespoon

      You are most definitely not the only one! Real life, real problems. We’ve all been there!

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