My husband could see fun and adventure in everything. Years of being an ER doctor left me far more able to see danger. As he tossed each one our daughters over his head when they were just gurgling babies, I always complained, “Please stop it – you are going to drop her!” Or while he raced through the parking lot pushing them in a grocery cart, I yelled, “Neil, that’s dangerous!” barely audible over their gleeful laughter.
Once we were on a family camping trip at a local state park. Early in the afternoon we hiked around the lake, and stopped for a treat afterward at the camp store. The girls ordered ice cream cones that were far too big for their little hands, while Neil and I chugged coffee. The trail that led back to our campsite was a steep downhill path lined with gravel and dried pine needles. Powered up by their ice cream, the girls ran ahead as fast as their little feet would carry them, while Neil cheered them on. “Neil, they shouldn’t do that; someone is going to get hurt!”
I hadn’t even finished the sentence when three year old Jordan crashed face first and slid downhill on her belly for several feet. I was furious with myself and her – but mostly with Neil. We both raced to her. I thought about all the worst injuries she could have suffered, and at the same time was ready to pluck her up and scold her for being so reckless.
Luckily, Neil got to her first.
“Jordan, that was awesome!” he exclaimed as he pulled her to her feet. Her nose was bruised, her chin was scratched, her knees were scraped and as he looked her over he said, “Look at all these fun badges! Everyone is going to see how much fun you had running down the hill.”
I expected tears of pain but instead was surprised to see a huge smile spread across her face. “That was fun!” she exclaimed. “Wow, Jordan that was amazing!” her oldest sister Gina chimed. “Can I try it, Dad?” her other sister Jackie asked.
“No, I think that’s enough for today,” he said. “We’ve got to go clean Jordan up. Let’s get back to camp.”
I stood shocked and still for a minute with my mouth hanging open as he walked down the path with three happy little girls arguing over who had to hold his hand and who got to run ahead, none at all upset by the tiny trail of blood drops behind them. Back at the campsite he cleaned Jordan up and sent her off to play.
“Col, you have got to stop always expecting the worst. You’ll take all the joy out of life!” he reprimanded me.
I’ve thought about that so many times since. I anticipate the worst. Do you? We prime ourselves so that when things turn out badly we aren’t disappointed. And it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: when we expect the worst we get the worst.
Maybe if we look at life from a positive perspective, we will be better able to see the good in it. Neil’s outlook turned Jordan’s boo boos into fun badges that spoke of her adventure and bravery. Why not try expecting the best and watching how God gives it to us? I don’t mean getting everything we want, or being reckless. I mean looking at things with fresh, hopeful eyes and a more optimistic interpretation, being open to God’s work and seeing the good in every situation.
Open my eyes today, God, and help me see life through the positive lens of your love. Amen.