“If your mind tends to put the spotlight on the scary stuff, turn the house lights on. You’re likely surrounded by goodness” – Donald Miller
When I was 16 years old I was at a youth conference with my then-boyfriend now-husband. One afternoon a close friend of mine was sharing some of her music with a room full of teenagers. Her voice was deep and smooth like a rich cup of coffee. She was beautiful, too. Long, dark hair that never went frizzy, and round, hazel eyes that twinkled with humour and energy. She sang and played the guitar like she was the only one in the room. With such a gentle confidence. I was sitting at the front of the room with a group of my girlfriends. As envious as we all were, we were giddy with pride to call this talented girl our friend.
After she finished playing her selection of songs she let us know that she had a CD available for purchase. Okay, so this girl just kept getting more amazing. The person at the CD table shouted out that the last CD had just been sold – to none other than my boyfriend. I was immediately filled with a jealous rage. He was clearly attracted to this gorgeous singer/songwriter like every other teenage boy in the room. No wonder he jumped at the opportunity to own her CD.
I tried to pretend I wasn’t bothered when he walked up to me, but my jealous heart couldn’t help but act coldly towards him. To my surprise, though, he put the unopened CD directly in my hands. He said that he had been watching me during the show and saw how much I was enjoying the music, so he did what any caring and loving boyfriend would do – he went directly to the table and bought me a copy of my friend’s CD.
I wish this was the only time that I have been found guilty of assuming other people’s motives, of believing myself to be a mind-reader, of not giving the people in my life the benefit of the doubt. Of letting my mind put a spotlight on the scary stuff instead of the goodness.
And there is so much goodness in my life. Though now it often comes wrapped in sticky fingers and floors and lukewarm mugs of coffee that I wish were hot lattes and toothpaste covered counters and long, exhausting days when no one naps and temper tantrums at the park and pee-soaked pants and yet another box of toys dumped out that needs to be put away and 10 minutes of couch time talk that speeds by way too fast before my husband’s next meeting.
And I know if I don’t look now I will miss all of these unexpected gifts wrapped in the stuff that looks like the scary stuff. The stuff that can get me down and frustrated and angry and sad and lonely. If I don’t look now I’ll realize my whole life passed me by with so many gifts unopened.
And I’ve always been someone who loves getting presents. This life just makes me search a little more for them.