On any given day, one easy way to feel miserable is to believe that you should be in some state other than you inescapably are. This hits me most often in the form of tiredness after a bad sleep. When I’m tired, I can get incredibly frustrated about my diminished state, knowing that I could have been much more mentally alert, emotionally stable and generally happy if only I’d gotten a better rest.
I know myself and my body well enough to know that this reflection is wholly accurate (in many ways I’m the best version of myself when I simply give my body every minute it wants to recover each night), but the preoccupation has a way of making a bad situation much worse. I can spiral into frustration and disappointment, mourning the better day that could have been. My morning study times are half as fruitful and enjoyable. My later work is a scattershot effort to hobble together a gainful day. Back at the weary beginning of the day my emotional fuse was already shorter than I’d like, but as the day wears on that fuse is slowly trimmed farther down by my bad response to my own situation. I soon become a self-powered stress generator, except that unlike a useful generator I keep all the resulting energy for myself, recirculating it perpetually to ensure my own overload and demise.
We humans can be pretty stupid sometimes. Lately (far too recently), I’ve decided to each day simply accept that however I wake, this is the situation that I’m in, and I’d best thank God for the good and make the best of the rest. I might be able to sleep better next time, but that’s next time. On tired days my underlying reality is still the same — this morning, I have woken from a sleep haunted by many stirrings and troubles — but to wish for a sleep other than the one I’ve had is about as useful as wishing I were born with six fingers. The opportunity for a better sleep last night has passed. Time to do my best with the day that I’ve been served. Whatever sleep I managed to get (which is a fairly magical restorative process no matter how much we receive), that’s my portion for the day, and like the sleepless parent of a newborn I mostly just need to toughen up and get on with the job. Blaming the baby would just make two lives miserable.
Also, I’ve had to challenge myself that whenever depending entirely on the power of sleep to energise my day, I forget that I travel through life with a constant helper who will amplify my efforts no matter how I’m feeling. The Spirit is my constant companion. Do I really think he’s unable to move through me because I’m a little short on shut-eye? Surely the same goes for many other unwanted situations and impediments.
I pray that whatever situation ails you today, you’ll give yourself the grace to not wish for a different past but only a different future, and trust God to help you on your way. This is not so simple for deep wounds of the past, of course (which can’t be stoically put in their place and often shouldn’t be forgotten in any case), but for those little mole hills which we so easily turn to mountains, may you blissfully stomp all and move flatly on your way.