Many of you know that I am not a morning person, by any stretch of the imagination. The fact that school starts at 7:30 am is a daily struggle. So when I burned my tongue on my coffee this morning—when my one friend, my one comfort in the morning turned against me—I knew that it was going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day.
No, I said to myself. I am more than a conqueror! God was teaching me about that yesterday through a battle with feelings of ineffectiveness and inadequacy. I will start the day with a good attitude. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
I made my oatmeal, which I love eating for breakfast every morning. I need that time to wake up with my oatmeal and coffee and my devotional before I have to face other people in the morning. I mixed it up with my nuts and cinnamon, and then I poured milk on it. And then I smelled the milk. And I knew it was going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day.
I scooped out the middle of the oatmeal, which hadn’t mixed with the milk, into another bowl. I ate that part and threw the rest in the trash. Thankfully I made muffins this weekend, so I spread some peanut butter on one to make up the rest of my breakfast.
I sat down with my devotional (Streams in the Desert, if you know it). Today’s selection talked about how God met Isaac when he found rest. This was not immediately encouraging as I looked ahead to my day with little time to rest. But I asked God to give me rest in my heart amid my busyness and responsibilities today. Nonetheless, I worried that it was going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day.
I set off for school. Yesterday, I walked to school through several inches of beautiful white fluffy snow, which was still falling lightly. Today, I walked through several inches of nasty slippery slush. And I knew it was going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day.
But God spoke to me as I was traipsing through the slushy muck. I was trying to walk in a set of footprints so as not to sink so far down in the wet snow. But they were just a little bit too far apart for me, so I slipped with every step. And I heard God whisper in the quiet of my soul, “You can’t walk in someone else’s steps. They are just a little too big for you. You’ll slip and fall if you try to fill shoes or footprints that I haven’t asked you to fill. Do what you can.”
And Christ did give me strength to do what I could in school today. I did find rest—and joy. My 12th graders listened sympathetically, laughed with me, and dutifully practiced switching from formal to informal language. My top class of 9th graders is working with Shakespeare—with his original language! They’re awesome. And the middle group of 9th graders never fails to make me laugh, especially when they have no idea in what order to put subjects and verbs. And my lowest level of 9th graders—they were absolute beginners at the beginning of the year—practiced giving advice for my troubles of the morning:
I think you should look the date on the milk.
I think you ought to drink energy drink [instead of] coffee. (I had to help them there)
On the Bázis [where my house is—it means “base”] there are some airplanes. Why don’t you come to school with airplane?
And after looking a word up in the dictionary: If I were you, I would come to school with stilts.
So it wasn’t a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day at all. Soon this afternoon, I’m going to see Hamlet (apparently it’s actually Shakespeare Day in my life) this afternoon in Hungarian at the National Theatre with a group from school. And this evening, I will gather with my Budapest family at our Tuesday night community group for food, fellowship and prayer.
I am truly blessed. It’s been a rough year in many ways, but amidst all my battles, small and great, I can say with Paul,
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18