The following is an excerpt (I hope) from a book I am writing.
A decade ago one, on January 14, 2000, I experienced one of the worst moments of my life. Not only did the person I planned to marry do everything he could to hurt me, in the process he destroyed my sense of well-being and who I am.
January is a rough month. It seems to me that bad things just plain old happen in January. Wyatt Earp died in January – 1929. The space shuttle Challenger exploded in January – 1986. The Apollo 1 fire killed 3 astronauts – 1967. The space shuttle Columbia broke up in re-entry (okay it was February 1) – 2003. The worst baseball trades happen in January. It is cold. You have all those bills to pay. And life is generally miserable.
January, 2000 brought one of the worst experiences of my life. It also brought one of the most remarkable and spiritually awakening moments of my life. I learned the power of praise when the big things in life are bad.
Praise when the big bad things happen keeps us going. It adjusts our attitude and helps us keep things in perspective. It turns something very bad into something that is a conduit for us to work for God. I was listening to an interview with Mike Huckabee, discussing the reaction to the tragic earthquake in Haiti. He was contrasting how different Christians viewed horrible tragedies.
Fr. Penn constantly stressed the fact that bad things do not come from God. Bad things happen. How we deal with them can either bring us closer to God or farther from Him. Mike Huckabee said basically the same thing.
He has learned the secret. If we can offer up our sacrifice of praise and thanks when things are very bad, our relationship with the Lord changes. Somehow, over time, the bad morphs into something that we can use to grow our relationship and reach out to help others.
Out of devastation can come triumph, if you will allow it.
Perhaps that is the key – allowing it.
We are taught that when bad things happen we must be circumspect. We should be sad, thoughtful, and act appropriately. We are not taught that we should simply stop in our tracks and say “thank you, Lord!”. It is not easy. It is that proverbial road less taken, much more difficult to cross. No one wants to be around a cheerful entity when their lives are miserable. But – that praise and thanks is the key to everything.
Please do not even attempt to ask me why. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand any of it. All I know is the Lord honors our praise and thanks when things are bad.
Praise and thanks when things are bad does not make things better. It makes them different. I know. The day after my worst heart-break, on January 15, a remarkable series of events led me to realize that I simply had to say “thank you”. I had no idea why, other than we are entreated to give thanks and praise for all things. I did.
Remember that the annoying …. All things work together … thing? Well, if you add praise to your heartache and pain, somehow it does. I praised. Within a few months I knew the best possible thing that could have happened to me was to have the relationship with that person severed. I have walked forward, never looking back. Don’t ever think the pain of betrayal and the effects of having my whole life literally trashed have not taken years to heal.
After a decade I have realized that I must get my old self back. I must go back to the person I was before my whole being was shredded and my sense of myself was destroyed. I don’t mind admitting for the most part I’ve remained hidden, not bothering with much of life or who I once was.
This week, a decade to the day, there is a glimmer of hope.
After being trashed so badly I quit listening to opera. With a few exceptions, I’ve gone from someone who was a complete opera junkie to someone never listened to opera, let alone classical music. This week I have begun listening to opera the way I once did. That is the old me – the one that has been hiding from the world.
The effects of praise when bad things happen is not instantaneous. You may never understand why – but somehow it does help.
It’s a God Thing.