A first grade teacher collected well known proverbs. She gave each child in her class the first half of a proverb and asked them to write what they thought should come next. Here are some of the things they came up with:
– Better to be safe than…punch a 5th grader.
– Strike while the…bug is close.
– Never underestimate the power of…termites.
– It’s always darkest before…Daylight Savings Time.
– Don’t bite the hand that…looks dirty.
– A miss is as good as a…Mister.
– Where there’s smoke there’s…pollution.
– Happy the bride who…gets all the presents.
– A penny saved is…not much.
– Two’s company, three’s…the Musketeers.
– Children should be seen and not…spanked or grounded.
– If at first you don’t succeed…get new batteries.
– Laugh and the whole world laughs with you; cry and…you have to blow your nose.
Like those children’s responses to the words before them, how we choose to respond to the things before us can make all the difference in our lives.
Dr. Charles Swindoll sees it that way. He writes, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than…the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill…. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…. I am convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it.”
Alexander Graham Bell remarked, “When one door closes another door opens. But we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” We will do much better in life if we respond to disappointments in life by looking for new opportunities rather than only regretting the closed doors.
William Bridges adds, “Change may begin with a new start, a goal or a vision of the future. But transition begins with an ending. Human beings cannot move into new roles with a clear sense of purpose and energy unless they let go of the way things were and the self-image that fit that situation. Much resistance to change comes from difficulty letting go.” Though transitions in our lives often begin with the heartache of an ending, we will do better in life if we respond to the disappointment by letting go of what was in order to take hold of new opportunities.
The Biblical prophet Habakkuk understood this truth well. He faced severe challenges in his life and lamented, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls….” Yet he responded to those disappointment by embracing the presence of God and the strength God would give him. He declares, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to go on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
—Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa. Pastor Tripp can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.