Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s okay to have a bad day.
I don’t mean a bad hair day. I’m talking about the kind of day when everything goes wrong, nothing goes the way you planned; all your hopes and happy expectations are dashed; you are so disappointed. You feel that you can’t accomplish anything; the weight of the world is just crushing you. That’s a lot worse than a bad hair day! But it’s still okay to have a bad day like that.
How do I know this? Well, on one of those bad days my “inspirational reading” started off in what seemed to be not such a positive inspiration. It was about how such bad days are inevitable. Here’s a part of what I read:
Since the society, nation and world in which we live are far from ideal, all manner of suffering occurs, and good and evil are at cross-purposes. If we were to look at a hundred people, we would find them all struggling against their surroundings and pushing against their environment in an effort to carry on their daily lives. Our experience in our daily lives tells us that no one can be confident that daily tasks planned in the morning will be accomplished during that day. … We lack the means to live even one month according to our plan.Sun Myung Moon, True Families: Gateway to Heaven, HSA-UWC, 2009.
Well, it seemed that I was not alone in my struggles, so that was a bit comforting.
I reflected some more and realized that God has bad days too! The Bible is a history of tragic mistakes and failures, and these are not just tragedies for humankind they are tragedies for God.
After God spent billions of years creating the whole cosmos, not to mention the earth that was made to be just perfect for human beings, finally the first human beings were born and living in the Garden of Eden. It was surely a wonderful paradise. How happy they, the animals, and God must have been!
But, while Adam and Eve were still young, they hid from God and He called out “where are you?” Then, when they were asked what happened, did they eat the forbidden fruit, they tried to pass the blame on to others. Adam said it was Eve’s fault, and Eve blamed the serpent. Then they were all cursed and exiled from the Garden.
That was surely a bad day for the human beings, but also a bad day for God, don’t you think? How much planning had gone into the creation, how many hopes and happy expectations were dashed? Did God hear the whole of creation groaning? The weight of the whole suffering world must have been very heavy on God’s shoulders.
Was that God’s only bad day? Certainly not. Actually, things went from bad to worse. Adam and Eve had to leave with just the clothes on their backs, clothes that God had made for them. God did not give up on them, though. When their sons, Cain and Abel, were old enough they prepared special sacrifices to God. Sadly, disaster struck again when Cain became very upset that his sacrifice was not accepted and Abel’s was. Understandable actually, but God warned him to be careful: “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7). Cain failed to master it; instead, he killed his brother. That was the first murder. Another really bad day!
A bad day for human beings: Abel was dead and Cain was exiled. Another bad day for God too. Surely God had planned for Cain and Abel to work together, well as brothers, so that Cain could be successful too. Instead, there were more dashed hopes and expectations, and an even heavier burden for God to bear.
Things got even worse, so God decided to bring a Great Flood to wipe out the evil people. He called Noah (who apparently was righteous) to build an ark, a huge lifeboat to keep all the different species safe and with plenty of room for people. Noah struggled to build this big boat, but kept the faith and it was ready when the rains started. How many people went with him into the boat? Only his wife and three sons and their wives. No-one else. Surely everyone had seen this giant ark being built for 120 years. Yes, and they laughed at Noah. Then they all perished. Bad day for them. Another bad day for God too. So bad that God “grieved” that He had made human beings (Genesis 6:6). It seems that having everyone except Noah and his immediate family die was not God’s plan, not His hope or expectation. The weight of this tragedy was so great that God promised never to do it again, sealing the promise with a rainbow.
God tried a different plan with Moses. No more wiping out all the evil people; instead, He gave instructions on what to do and what not to do in order to be good. This wasn’t easy to do: Moses had to climb a mountain and fast for 40 days before God wrote these Ten Commandments on two pieces of stone. Unfortunately, when Moses came back down the mountain to tell the people the good news, that they now had instructions on how to live and prosper, he found them worshiping a golden calf. Furious, Moses broke the stone tablets. The Ten Commandments were lost! Another bad day.
But God gave Moses a second chance: climb the mountain and fast again and you can have the Ten Commandments back. Moses did that. So, it was not the worst bad day! But still things didn’t go too well for Moses, or the Israelites, since almost all of them (including Moses) died in the wilderness without reaching the promised land. Nothing goes as planned.
Certainly, the Old Testament is a record of things not going according to plan, not God’s plan or human beings’ expectations. How about the New Testament? Almost nobody recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and even those who did betrayed him when things got difficult. Did Jesus have a bad day or two? Did Jesus’ life go according to God’s plan? Did God have a bad day when Jesus was suffering, betrayed, and finally crucified – is that why He tore the curtain in the temple?
Having a bad day seems to be par for the course, something everyone experiences, even God. It’s nothing to be ashamed of; it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. It does mean you are in good company!
When we have a bad day, it’s okay, it’s to be expected, even. The bad day isn’t fun, of course, but better days will come. A bad day, or even a bunch of bad days, shouldn’t lead us to give up hope, to stop having expectations of good things, to abandon all our plans, our dreams.
That inspirational reading concluded:
Getting through a year successfully requires us to be equipped with a fighting spirit or driving force that can thrust aside all the challenges of each and every one of its 365 days. … Unless we maintain an internal determination that surpasses the goal through the process called time, the goal will be unattainable.
I certainly don’t want all my goals to be unattainable! That means internal determination is needed, and has to be maintained until the goal is reached, even when having a bad day. And, it’s okay to have a bad day.