Why We Need to Look for the Silver Linings

FOCUS QUESTION: Are you looking for the silver linings?

I am NOT a runner. But apparently it’s “good for you” (or something like that) so I’ve been trying to do better. I think it’s taken me 4-5 months to finally be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping! It’s whatever. I’m over it.

In my defense (just go with it), we live in the HILLIEST NEIGHBORHOOD EVER. I know I can be dramatic at times…but the cross country kids literally train one street over from mine.

Do you know how many times I’ve conquered that hill on a run? ONCE. Mari-Beth LANE? More like Mari-Beth MOUNTAIN.

We should get t-shirts when we make it to the top.

In case you’re still not convinced my neighborhood is hilly, there’s a hole in the road at the San Juan/Monterrey curve. I contemplate “accidentally” stepping in it EVERY SINGLE TIME I RUN.

Then, if I run too early on Wednesdays (like I did last week), I find myself FIGHTING FOR EVERY BREATH because I’m caught in the middle of GARBAGE COLLECTION DAY! I don’t know what items we’re putting in our trash cans, but whatever is DECAYING in there deserves a proper burial.

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I had to strategically hold my breath until I was a safe distance between trash cans. Even then I wasn’t guaranteed fresh air!

My actual thoughts were, “This is it. This is how I’m going to die…I SHOULD’VE STEPPED IN THAT HOLE WHILE I STILL HAD THE CHANCE.”

But then a cool breeze wrapped itself around me. I passed a house that smelled like laundry detergent and my upturned face began to relax as a wave of peace rushed over me.

I kept running.

Now, don’t get me wrong…there were at LEAST 25 more garbage cans I’d be passing, and a few more hills I’d have to climb…but those little victories, those silver linings, gave me hope.

They gave me just the push I needed to simply keep doing what I was doing.

I was going to make it…

…and I did!

look for the silver linings

As I was gasping for air and TRYING NOT TO DIE, I thought to myself, “This is what life often feels like. A run through the hilliest neighborhood in town, on trash day, in 90 degree weather.”

I finally made it to the top of one hill only to take a left and find myself at the bottom of another. To avoid inhaling DECAY, I had to hold my breath every time I passed a trash can. Even then I wasn’t guaranteed success! I saw that ankle-breaker on the San Juan/Monterrey curve. It took everything in me not to “accidentally” step in it so I could bow out before anyone ever noticed I was gone…AND THIS IS ALL THE WHILE SWEATING MY HOLLYWOOD FROST OFF.

BUT THEN…

A cool breeze beats against my face. I pass a house whose occupants are doing laundry (or grilling in the back yard). Even if only for a split second, the scent of Downy (or burgers and hot dogs) reaches through my nostrils and touches my soul. Then I see kids playing catch in the front yard. The sun begins to set and God’s glory is declared boldly across the sky. I see a dog.

Even though I’m going to face more obstacles along the way, the silver linings give me hope…they give me the encouragement I need to keep running.

I make it to the house and think, “THAT WAS AWFUL…but I’m so glad I did it!”

Isn’t life the exact same way? 

We finally check one daunting task off the list only to flip the page and find ourselves having to add 8 more. We get a system down that seems to be working, but it’s not a sure thing. Suddenly, we start to wonder if we’ll ever reach our goal. We think “It’s too challenging…quitting would be much easier.”

But then we start to feel/see results after working out and eating right for more than a few days. Or we figure out how to solve a problem we’ve been working on for months. Perhaps someone tells us our journey has inspired them. Maybe we’re able to give advice to someone else in our field and we don’t feel as much like a beginner anymore…or we get a promotion…or, for the first time, we feel like we’re actually doing something significant with our lives.

The silver linings give us hope. They give us just the encouragement we need to keep going.

We believe we’re going to make it…and we do! We’ll think, “THAT WAS AWFUL…but I’m so glad I did it.”

Desmond Tutu noted, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” 

I’ve been really discouraged the last few weeks (yes, even the encourager gets discouraged from time to time). I needed this reminder. I have found myself clinging to the silver linings now more than ever.

The silver linings give me the hope I need to carry on when my efforts feel hopeless.

No matter how “hot” it gets, no matter how long I have to “hold my breath” at each midway point, no matter how tempting that “hole” may look. I want to be able to say, “Man, that was difficult and terrible and the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life…but I’m so glad I did it.”

Don’t you, too??????????

Look for the silver linings…even if you have to look harder on some days than others.

Celebrate those tiny victories…and keep going.

What tiny victory are you thankful for today? 

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