It’s 6 a.m. and I have two hours to accomplish the tasks that need to be done before a meeting on the other side of town. I tell myself this is plenty of time and drink coffee with ease while oak leaves dance on the lawn. The day feels packed with possibilities for beauty, purpose, and lingering long over steaming mugs.
Two hours later, I find myself in the very same living room. However, any sense of tranquility has evaporated with the fog that disappeared around the time my children stumbled from their cozy bedrooms. The floor is scattered with toys of all sorts, sippy cups, half-eaten pieces of shredded wheat, and pajamas twisted into contorted balls. My six-year-old moans from the bottom of the steps like she’s being attacked by a grizzly bear. And her three-year-old brother throws his own variety of fit somewhere in the midst of the toy-strewn floor.
Worst of all, the school bus will roar up to the end of the driveway in less than five minutes. If I’m going to make it to my meeting on time, I need to leave immediately upon my daughter’s departure on the bus. This seems like an impossible feat, being that I’m still soaked with sweat from my morning exercise routine, my daughter can’t seem to find shoes that “feel right,” and my son is wearing absolutely nothing at all. Brushing teeth is merely a luxurious bonus on mornings like this.
It’s nothing short of a miracle that we make it to the end of the driveway in time for the bus. And I surrender to the fact that there’s no way I’m making it to the meeting on time. Having released my expectations regarding a timely appearance at the meeting, I allow myself to regroup while I shower, and my three-year-old munches on cereal while watching a movie downstairs.
“How in the world can I turn this day around right now?” I whisper from beneath the falling water, and several truths come to mind:
Look for What’s Right
There’s always a reason to complain if we look hard enough. More often than not, it’s easier to find something to complain about than something to appreciate. Beneath the steamy water, I let go of the fact that the house is a wreck and release my worries about running late. Instead, I take a moment to appreciate the fact that we have a warm house, precious children, and enough food to eat. I appreciate the beauty of autumn and the gift of solitude offered by a hot shower in a quiet place.
Reassess Your Expectations of Others
More often than not, other people are the source of frustrations in our days. Slow drivers, disobedient children, disgruntled co-workers, and snarky bosses hold the potential to send us reeling with anger. When we hold our expectations of others loosely, we leave room for imperfection and extending grace.
Do Something Kind for Someone Else
As I leave the bathroom and finish getting ready for the day, I consider what I might do to extend kindness to someone else. It’s easy to have a bad day when I’m thinking only of my own needs and how no one around me is meeting them. I pick up my phone and send a text to the one person I don’t encourage nearly enough: my husband. I thank him for coaching our daughter’s soccer team and working so hard to provide for our family. As I press the send button, I sense something in my heart has drastically shifted already.
Fight Hurry with all You Have
One of the greatest threats to serenity is the opposing force of hurry. We live in a hurried culture in which greater productivity seems to equal greater value; therefore, we hustle to keep up with the demands around us and hurry to increase productivity in our lives. We yell at our kids for being too slow and roll our eyes when we have to wait for anything whatsoever. As I finish getting ready, I resolve to eliminate hurry from our day. Hurry turns me into a raving monster, and this is not the mother, wife, or friend I want to be.
Give Thanks for Five Things
“Hold me, Mama,” my son pleads from the recliner as I slip into my shoes. I check my watch. We should have left the house fifteen minutes ago. In this moment, I resist every perfectionist impulse in the fiber of my being, slip off my shoes, and walk across the living room to hold my son while he eats his breakfast. This act of love releases a deep gratitude in my soul. I find myself listing countless gifts in my life: this sweet boy, coffee at first light, the songbirds calling from the maple trees, the opportunity to serve in the community, cool autumn days, and more.
We arrive at the meeting almost thirty minutes later than planned, and to my surprise, the meeting was postponed and set to start at exactly the time I arrived. I simply never received the message. As I ponder the morning while we wait for everyone to arrive, I can’t help but consider the fact that every day holds the potential to be a frustrating series of frenzied events or a life-giving series of opportunities. I promise myself to choose the latter.