"No one really has a bad life. Not even a bad day. Just bad moments." (Regina Brett).
That's a quote worth reflecting on.
When we think we're having a bad day, it often helps to remember that many people in this world are having things a lot worse, and a lot more often. Even a brief glance at the international news can help to place our personal irritations in better perspective.
So what does a bad day look like?
The skies were blue as I soared out of Auckland towards Singapore a few years ago to attend an executive meeting of the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation. (As I look back, a good many of my adventures in recent years have been connected with the APBF in one way or another.)
It was my annual opportunity to gather with some eighteen Asian Christian friends from around the region, over two full days, to do some strategic planning. International travel has always been a pleasure for me, and in my brand new sandals, purchased specially for the trip, I felt ready for anything.
Nevertheless, things didn't quite go to plan. When I reached Singapore I discovered my budget airline had neglected to send my luggage with me. Now I, as a dignified representative of the Baptist Women of the South West Pacific, faced the prospect of four sticky days in the same clothes and shoes, in a steamy climate.
Nor was it just my clothes. My camera, computer cord, hairdryer and phone charger were all in the missing suitcase, reminding me how dependent I'd become on technology. Not to mention the other necessities of life.
The next day I called the airline. After some to-ing and fro-ing, they traced my luggage. It had got as far as Melbourne, Australia, they explained politely, and now it was on its way back at Auckland. Hardly worth shipping over to Singapore now, they pointed out.
Groan! No doubt my problem was a minor annoyance in the global scheme of things, but at that moment the last thing I needed was to be reminded of how badly off other people were.
Still, something within me prompted me to remember the words of the apostle Peter: Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.
A writer called Anna White once said, "Maybe it's not about having a beautiful day, but about finding beautiful moments. Maybe a whole day is just too much to ask. I could choose to believe that in every day, in all things, no matter how dark and ugly, there are shards of beauty if I look for them."
In the midst of my chagrin, God supplied some beautiful moments. Christian brothers and sisters attending the meeting were the wind beneath my wings. As I had no toiletries, my thoughtful room mate gave me a brand new box of skin care products she had brought from Korea.
Another board member, from Thailand, lent me a nightshirt. And I didn't need to buy a single garment, as everyone at the exec meeting was given a brightly coloured APBF teeshirt. (See photo.) Little things, but they all helped to restore my soul.
Despite such grace, I won't pretend my attitude had fully recovered by the time I boarded my plane for home. My brand new sandals had given me blisters. My watch had died and I hadn't been able to replace the battery.
Then my no-frills airline charged me for every drop of coffee, and eight hours of hanging around Melbourne Airport, waiting for a connecting flight to Auckland, were seven too many.
Yet the Lord had helped me to recover my perspective. He'd reminded me of some valuable truths:
- PCs, cellphones, cameras and hairdryers are not essential for survival,
- Nor is a change of clothes.
- God often uses his people who are "up" to bless his people who are "down."
- Angels in mufti are never far away.
- Down through the ages, the oil of human kindness has always helped to remove the grit from the machinery of life
And in all things there are "shards of beauty" if we look for them.
 Anna White, Mended: Thoughts on Life, Love, and Leaps of Faith
Julie Belding is a freelance editor, ESOL teacher and grandmother of five.
Her previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/julie-belding.html