Special to 0-A News
From Walter Albritton, Senior Pastor Trinity UMC
For Sunday, August 1, 1999


What to do when everything seems to be going wrong

Ever have one of those days when everything seems to go wrong? You know, one of those days when you find yourself saying in despair, "I should have stayed in bed!"

Sure, you do. We all do. That's a part of living a normal life because none of us is perfect. You may demand that other people live perfectly around you, but you know deep down that they cannot do that anymore than you can.

So we have to learn how to cope with our own failures and those of others. Crazy things happen to the best of us. Take, for example, the woman in London whose cat got stuck up in a tree. Unable to talk the cat down, she called the fire department. Soon four experienced, helpful firemen were on hand, with a truck and a big bucket. One of the firemen was hoisted up in the bucket and was able to rescue the cat. The woman expressed her gratitude by inviting the whole crew inside her home where she served them tea and bisquits. After a few minutes of good food and fellowship, the firemen climbed back into the fire truck, and backed out of the driveway, waving to the grateful woman.

She watched in horror as the fire truck backed over her cat and killed it.

So for the frustrated and now sad woman, and the firemen, it was one of those days. The kind we all have from time to time.

Take preaching, for instance. A preacher can go to great pains to tell a marvelous story only to have someone come up to him later with a question that ruins his day.

Bill Hinson tells about the country preacher who quite eloquently retold the creation story with a little homespun twist to it. God, he said, made Adam out of mud and then leaned him up against a rail fence to dry. But a wry old farmer raised an objection. "But preacher, if Adam was the first man, where did the rail fence come from?" Redfaced, the preacher replied icily, "It's questions like that that just ruin religion."

I know how that preacher felt. Every preacher does.

What can we do to salvage our sanity on those days when everything goes wrong? Two things at least are helpful to me.

One, never surrender to pessimism. When things go wrong, pessimism knocks on your door and wants to move into your mind. Best advice I know is to refuse to let the old rascal in. Run him off with a broom.

Two, never give up on optimism. Even when the milk is spilled, find a way to laugh about it. Clean up the mess and go on. Life is too short to part company with optimism.

So get another cat if you've got to have one. Buy some more milk. Tell yourself that the floor looks cleaner where the milk was spilled. Smile and pick yourself up and move on. As bad as the day has been, tell yourself it could have been worse!

I heard about a football coach whose team kept having losing seasons. He was a good coach and his teams almost won every game. But a fumble or an interception kept snatching victory out of their hands.

Somehow the coach remained positive. He refused to complain. Asked how he kept his spirit up, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "I'm the kind of guy who, if I fell in a mud puddle, would get up and feel in my pockets for fish."

Now that is a winning attitude even when your team is losing!

So keep your chin up. Don't give in. Believe in yourself and keep wearing a smile.

Say, don't I smell fish frying in your skillet?

Fix up a pan of cheese grits and enjoy yourself!