They’re inevitable. They’re unavoidable. They're like a used car sales person from the moment you step foot onto their car lot. What am I talking about? Bad days! I don’t care who you are. We all have them and for those of us who fight anxiety, we find ourselves in what seems like a no-win battle for our souls.
My Bad Day
I'd say that once a week I have a bad day. Sometimes my bad days are self-inflicted or caused by something breaking and others are a result of my anxiety. Quite a few years ago before Jerrica and I tied the knot I was planning to come see her here in Louisville. I was planning to leave after my classes on Friday and be there around 4 or 5 o'clock. I jumped in my car and began the two and a half hour drive to Louisville. As I drove I felt like I needed to pray and these words rolled out of my mouth. "God, I'm so grateful for today. I'm grateful that I get to see Jerrica. Lord, give me patience today..." Yes, I asked for patience. Why? I have no idea, but He sure did answer. About an hour into my drive, I came over an incline and found what seemed like a sea of multi-colored metal. It was traffic backed up on the interstate. As my car pulled to a halt, I felt my anxiety rise up within me. Traffic was at a standstill. An hour passed and we weren't moving. Another hour passed and I decided that I needed to do something. I climbed into my back seat and used my key to open up my trunk through the seat. I grabbed my computer from my bag, climbed back to the front seat and worked on some homework that was due. During hour three I realized that I didn't have my keys. I thought maybe I had left them in the trunk. I got out my of my car, opened my trunk from the outside and began to search. Nothing. I started to panic, but the search continued. I got back in my car and started searching everywhere. Again nothing. During hour four was when I lost my mind. I started imagining that traffic would start moving and I'd have no keys. I imagined that I had never had my keys. I know how that sounds, but I had been isolated in a car for four hours at this point. Somewhere around hour five tears were streaming, but I decided to look one more time. I climbed into the backseat and put my hand in the space between the back part of the seat and the bottom part of the seat. As my hand moved horizontally across I felt something metal. I grabbed it and pulled and there they were -- my lost keys. The tears continued to flow, but this time with joy. After six hours of sitting in standstill traffic -- yes, I said "SIX HOURS" -- the accident that had occurred had been cleared and I was able to complete my trip to Louisville.
Yes, that was a bad day. But what have I learned from this story?
Bad Days are Learning Experiences
Like I said at the beginning, bad days are unavoidable so learn from them. I learned some practical things like, "Don't lay your keys down in your seat." More importantly, I learned that I can use a story like this to connect and relate to you. That's important if we're going to grow together. Maybe your bad day isn't as dramatic as mine, but that's okay. Ask yourself what lesson you can learn from it. Did your kid throw up in your car? Maybe the lesson is that life interruptions are where our perseverance grows the most. How about when you rear-end someone in traffic? The lesson could be that you need to quit texting and driving or that we all make mistakes. Flip those bad days on their heads and find lessons from your experiences.
Bad Days are Growing Opportunities
So you've found the lesson to learn, but you need to put it into action. Let bad days become growing opportunities. For me, I realized that fear rules so much of my life. Being afraid I was going to get stuck in traffic without my keys actually meant that I was afraid of how others would look at me. Even to this day, I struggle with fear of what others think, but these moments have given me more clarity into why I'm afraid. In turn, I'm able to work on it. I'm growing by doing more things that I used to not do because of how people would view me. If you rear-ended someone then maybe the growth comes with you building new habits while driving. Maybe it's working on how you handle your emotions when you make a mistake.
Bad Days Can Grow Relationships
It's hard enough to talk about your bad days let alone ask someone to help you learn and grow from them, but I can't stress the importance of this enough. Relationships grow from vulnerability. When you open up to your spouse or close friend about what happened during your day, you're bringing any shame to light. By being humble enough to ask for help, you’re creating trust and unity within that relationship. If you read It’s Not Good to Be Alone, one of my earlier posts, I mentioned the passage below. It’s the first conflict in Scripture.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” - Genesis 2:18
God knew that we were better together. He knew that being alone would breed darkness. Bad days can draw out anxiety, depression and isolation. But relationships can draw out truth, hope and community.
Questions to Ponder:
1. How do you handle bad days?
2. When was the last time you learned a lesson from your bad day? What lesson did you learn?
3. Who do you need in your life to help you with your bad days?