We live on a country road, where it’s usually quiet (except for the occasional train in the distance, or when the coyotes and the neighbor’s dogs try and out-howl each other on a full moon every now and again). But we lived in the city of Springfield, Missouri for 25 years.
At 160,000 people, it’s not huge, but is big enough to have pretty much anything you need.
Except a White Castles restaurant, that is.
One day my wife, my son, my daughter and I were taking a walk. My daughter was pushing my two-year-old grandson in his stroller, and he had his chocolate milk in one hand and his crackers in the other, so he was content. My wife and kids exchanged simple chatter, content with each other’s company.
I, however, was having one of those days when I struggled with depression. If you know anything about it, you’ll agree that depression doesn’t care where you are, how beautiful the day is or what kind of mood you’re in.
It’s like the weather: it pretty much does what it wants, when it wants.
The city was loud that night, with big trucks thundering by, angry drivers honking, a couple across the street yelling at each other and the roar of the interstate in the background. A bit of trash had collected at the fence around our yard. Our yard hadn’t been mowed in a couple weeks because our lawn mower was on the fritz.
Thus, all I saw around me was ugly, LOUD and irritating. To make things worse, my back and leg pain was causing me to slowly limp along beside my family. I was lost in my own thoughts, trying not to let the dreaded gray clouds of bitterness and depression overtake my whole spirit.
“Just go ahead,” I told my family. “I’m slowing y’all down.”
“No, daddy, it’s cool,” my daughter smiled. “Why don’t you push the stroller? You set the pace.”
Those four words bounced around in my head for days: “You set the pace.”
“I set the pace for this walk of life,” I thought. Cheesy, but true.
A couple weeks later, watching television with my family, my son asked, “Dad, are you ok?” As I’ve blogged before, that’s usually my cue to examine my mood, and I became aware I was in a bad one. For no other reason than my chronic pain and depression.
It wasn’t my family’s fault, and yet the gray cloud over my spirit was blocking the sun in their lives, too.
So I asked them if they wanted to go for another walk. This time I began to open my eyes to the beauty all around me.
I started with my wife. What a gorgeous lady, both inside and out. She can be as nutty as a fruitcake when she wants to be, usually just trying to make me laugh. She still smiles every time she sees me. A large, contagious grin which screams, “Hey, there’s my man.”
Next, I looked at my children. I’m so proud of my kids. They are my heart.
Then I glanced down at my grandson. At once, as if he knew I was looking at him, his head snapped my way, and when I smiled at him, his whole face lit up. That’s all he needed: just my smile. Not money or toys; just my attention.
Finally, I looked up and saw one of the most beautiful sunsets I’d ever witnessed:
It’s much easier to get caught up in anger, depression and pain, but I chose to try and find the charm in my surroundings.
Ask yourself: where are your eyes drawn? When you’re scrolling through Facebook, are you looking for the jokes? Are you drawn to stories about pets, kids and sunsets? Have you sent friend requests to those who like the same music as you, or have the same taste in movies?
Or, on the other hand, do you make it a point to leave a comment on every angry, racist, ranting post you can find?
Is your television glued to the one news channel you vehemently disagree with, simply because anger makes you feel more alive? Or, on the contrary, do you search out programs which entertain you, or, God forbid, even make you laugh?
As they say, your eyes are the window to your soul.
If you’re looking for the ugly, vile and putrid, it’s there. But if you CHOOSE to look for it, I think you’ll find the glory in this world far outweighs the gloom.
It’s all a matter of perspective.
“God’s glory is on tour in the skies,
God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
Professor Night lectures each evening.
“Their words aren’t heard,
their voices aren’t recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:
unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.
“God makes a huge dome
for the sun—a superdome!
“The morning sun’s a new husband
leaping from his honeymoon bed,
The daybreaking sun an athlete
racing to the tape.
“That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies
from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts,
warming hearts to faith (Psalm 19:1-6).”