Goodness in the Midst of Trouble

“We can complain because rosebushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” How many times have we heard this quote? It makes sense until you pick a rose and those thorns produce droplets of red, and then it’s kinda hard to focus on the beauty.

How do you see the beauty in working with a difficult boss, hurting over a rebellious child, or struggling to overcome an eviction notice? How can I change my perspective or my thinking to see the good or the positive? I often find it revolves around where I focus and if I truly understand and trust that God will use everything for good like he promises in Romans 8:28. It’s where I choose to look.

Mr. Rogers, of the famed “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” children’s show, shared what his mother taught him: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

The weeks we had to spend sheltering at home were difficult because I disliked the inability to go anywhere and be my Miss Independent self. I grew weary working from home. But I noticed one thing that I would never have seen if I hadn’t spent so much time at home. It may seem silly, but it gave me such delight. I have a stone path bisecting my front yard that leads from the street to my front porch. Every child who walked by always had to stop and bounce up those stone steps and back down—their own version of hopscotch. I loved watching them enjoy such a simple thing.

Here are some other good things about this time. I’ve had conversations with my neighbors. The inconvenience of wearing a mask was balanced with saving money on lipstick, and I could run to the store without makeup and nobody would recognize me. You can always find the blip of light on the radar screen of difficulty.

Even our children are aware of good in this season. A friend asked her children what was positive about wearing masks at school. Her middle schooler expressed how the kids in her class were quiet now. Her high schooler was happy because he saw a lot less kissing in the hallways. There are spots of optimism if we shift our vision.

God is continually at work if we look hard enough to find it. We choose what thoughts and attitudes reign. Do we complain and focus on the negative or decide to change our perspective to see the positive buried in the dust of the rubble? It might arrive through a sunset or a song on the radio or playing a fun game with your child.

Will seeing the good make the eviction notice disappear? Or your child become more obedient? Or your boss treat you nicer? Maybe not. But it can change your attitude and focus, which might lead to appreciating that your defiant child does have passing grades or your demanding boss provides a job to pay the bills and feed your family. It’s a subtle change that helps us navigate life.  

For our own mental health and as an example for our children, let’s go on a treasure hunt and discover what great things are occurring amid difficult circumstances. Choose where you look.

About Shelley Pulliam

Howdy! (A girl from Oklahoma has to use this as her greeting) I’m Shelley Pulliam, executive director of Arise Ministries and former teacher of hormone-filled 8th graders. But my real claim to fame rests in my award as second grade spelling bee champ and my recent gun-handling skills as I train to competition shoot. It helps me be on guard when Satan comes knocking. I’m a voracious reader and can frequently be found at the theater enjoying movie marathons where my record stands at six in one day. I’m a single, never married, who loves to pour into children at every opportunity. Let me know if you have any for sale. You can connect with me on social media.