When my kids were younger, one of the books I loved to read to them was “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst. This classic book chronicles one of those days where everything seems to go wrong, and gives hope that there are days like that, no matter who you are or where you live.
It’s easy to forget that everyone has days like that, even kids.
When I was starting seventh grade, my dad left the family. We moved to a different house, I began attending a new school, and pretty much every day was a bad day. I don’t recall many things, but I do remember how my Math teacher was named Mrs. Sunshine (really!) and that was my last class of the day and I didn’t like math to begin with. I would end up in the counselor’s office regularly instead of being in class, but I had no words for why I was having a bad day.
Children often do not have words to describe what is happening but the right book often speaks to their heart. That difficult year I discovered “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Victor Hugo; a massive tome of tragedy bearing little resemblance to the Disney movie. I don’t remember much about the book, but I devoured it — the desperation of the mother who lost her child to the gypsies, the degenerate church leaders, the deformed bell ringer who loved the gypsy girl who was tortured and eventually hung. It took me out of myself and gave me a bigger perspective on life.
Bad days are not measured by the type of things going wrong, they are measured by the size of your world.
This is why a child can have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day when they are in a loving environment where they are safe and sheltered and fed. Their world is small because they have no experience outside their own. This is why Job finally realized his string of bad days paled in the presence of the Creator who loved him.
Job had his perspective on life expanded to the max.
Tears and frustrations are useless if we fail to see what Job saw and realize that dark days and nights are part of life, but they do not define the limits of our experience. I think one of the most important things to learn from our dark times is compassion for those who cannot yet see outside the circle of their perspective.