Choose your color

We need to strive to put the negative events of the day into a perspective that we can govern so that these sometimes small events do not govern us. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day.

I remember reading recently about a soldier who stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan. The soldier lost his left leg in the explosion. He spent months in a German hospital and then returned home to the United States. Over the course of the next few days he journeyed homeward via military aircraft to his small hometown in western Colorado. When he arrived at the airport he was greeted by his family and tears and smiles were exchanged. Finally several reporters from area newspapers converged on the reunion scene. One of them asked the young soldier how it felt to lose his leg. The soldier smiled and looked the reporter straight in the eye. “Mister, I didn’t lose a leg––I gave one!”

How we view life is a matter of what we want to see, not what we merely see. That young soldier chose a bright color because he knew that he would spend the rest of his life without his left leg. He would wake up every morning and know it. He would reach for it at night when it falsely told him that it was still there and find nothing instead. People might stare and his life was unalterably changed from this day forward. But he also knew that, if the color of that one event were bright not dark, he would be able to cope, even cope well with a smile. That was the goal he set for himself no doubt as he lay in that German hospital. It was probably on his mind throughout the long flight back to the United States. And in all likelihood, there would be times when he would need to remind himself that it was not a loss but a gift. Nonetheless, over the long haul, he knew that unless he chose to color his life brightly, the dark colors of defeat and pity would overwhelm him.

Here’s a story. More than anything else, attitude is something that we choose. Robert Louis Stevenson, the great American author and lecturer, was bedridden much of his life suffering from tuberculosis. He had good days and bad days. He even went for periods of time when the disease seemed to leave him altogether. But, in the end, it always had a way of returning. There were days, even weeks when he could barely move, the disease having left him so weak and fragile. He would lose his appetite and grow even weaker. But somehow he always found a way to rally back. One day his wife heard him hacking loudly in his bedroom. She looked in on him and found him sitting up in his bed looking out the window with a broad smile on his face. “I suppose you still believe it’s a wonderful day.” she said in a bit of a sarcastic tone. Turning his head back toward the window, Stevenson replied, “I do! I will never let a row of medicine bottles block my horizon.” (Speaker’s Sourcebook II, page 47)

Stevenson knew that although circumstances in this life were not under his control, how he chose to color those circumstances was. Things happen to everyone, good and bad. Stevenson chose to take responsibility for his emotions and choose to look at life from the perspective of the gift that it is, not what it might have been. Attitude is always our choice; not the choice of others. We need to strive to put the negative events of the day into a perspective that we can govern so that these sometimes small events do not govern us.

We pray. Heavenly Father, when life and its little sorrows begin to govern us, help us to overcome the negative things with a positive attitude. Make us thankful for even the small graces that You grant so that, when things do go bad, we can draw on that thankfulness to overcome our fears and sorrows. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34)

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