Looking for a Shady Spot
On a sweltering summer’s day last November, I had the privilege of attending a Chapel service at my son’s former school. Two other ladies from the church office I volunteer in also joined me. The purpose of our visit was twofold. The school children were donating gifts for the CareLink Christmas hampers. We went that day to accept their generous gifts; and to share with the school what CareLink was all about.
As I drove my little car Mitsy to the school car park, I looked around for a shady spot. I had to drive around a wee while before I spotted the perfect place for Mitsy. There it was - right by the shade of a tall, beautiful gum tree; the tree’s long leaf-laden branches providing plenty of shade and shelter. I moved my little car into the spot and got out. I hoped Mitsy would stay nice and cool for when I got back to it a couple of hours later.
My colleagues Janet, Maureen and I spent a happy morning at the Chapel service, delighted to join hands with the school in blessing our community together. As I walked back to my car afterwards, I had a smile on my face and glad warmth in my heart. But it wasn’t just my heart that was warmed as I walked in something like 40 degree heat. I hoped that Mitsy had stayed cool for me.
I got in and turned on the ignition. And then…. my smile got wider, like the proverbial Cheshire cat who’d drunk a saucer-ful of milk. Yes, finding that shady spot had worked wonders inside my little Mitsy. Usually when I get into my car during the summer, I find it heated beyond belief. This time it was refreshingly cool and my ride home wasn’t in sweltering heat. ‘Thank you, God’ I whispered.
As I turned towards home, I pondered on a fresh lesson I’d learnt that day. My comfort that day was my concern. If I’d parked elsewhere and had felt the heat badly, I’d have only myself to blame. It was up to me that day to look out for what I needed. I had to take the initiative in finding that shady park.
It made me reflect that my joy too is up to me. My happiness is not up to my circumstances or my world. It is not up to my parents, my spouse, my children, my friends or even my God. It is up to me to find and entertain my own happiness. Does that make sense?
Sometimes life is difficult. It is puzzling. People hurt us. Sickness hits us squarely on the head. Bad things happen. How do I respond to such times? I could choose to be a victim. And BE a victim. Or… I could… yes…..I could choose to dance in the rain. I could choose to make lemonade out of lemons. I could choose to enjoy the soft cool spring breezes of contentment rather than the hot sweltering summer winds of frustration. The choice is up to me. My happiness is in my own hands.
It took years of living before this truth dawned on me. I am grateful for those tough seasons which sharpened the edge of this reality; they helped tattoo the truth on my brain and to engrave it in my heart. The other day, as I was chatting with a young friend who is on the brink of getting married, I felt led to share something important.
I told her that no other person could be responsible for her happiness. She was surprised. ‘What do you mean?” she asked. I explained that when I was young, I’d often thought that it was up to my husband (when I got married) to make me happy. Right? Wrong! If I cannot be happy in myself, how could anyone else (apart from God) make me happy? Over the years as I matured, I learnt that in order to be happy in a relationship I need to be first, happy in myself. Then I can make another happy. Then I can also receive love and find even deeper joy.
I believe that when I am less dependant on others for my happiness – I set myself free to become a better spouse, a better Mum, a better daughter, a better sister, a better friend, a better colleague, a better person. When I hold myself responsible for my own joy – I don’t burden those closest to me with it. I then also set my circle of family and friends free to be all they were created to be.
Am I in need of a shady spot today? While it’s true that God sometimes sends those shady spots my way – there are many times when He asks me to look for them. So let me join hands with Him. A victim? No! A victor through Him that loved me.
Especially when I grab the chance to even dance in the Rain!
Looking for a shady spot? I know that with God’s help you will surely find it.