Often at the end of the day I have a nagging sense of failure. I feel as if I didn’t do enough today, that I wasn’t productive or useful. This is my emotional perception, and I have learned that it is usually a distorted one. It is like your reflection in those curved mirrors at the carnival which show you with a tall, skinny head, a short fat body and huge feet. It is a twisting of reality.
Taking time to look at the day objectively gives us a much more realistic perspective. When we were in language study, a time when one is reduced to the level of a 1 year old, unable even to ask where the bathroom is, I felt totally useless and unfulfilled. This wasn’t helped by a teacher who told me regularly what a terrible student I was.
The Lord helped me deal with this by having me list out all the things that I actually did in a day: I got up, had my quiet time, got dressed, brushed my teeth, had breakfast, got the kids off to school, went to class, came home, prayed through my list, spent 4 hours in study, got the kids from school, helped prepare supper, did the dishes, put the kids to bed, collapsed into bed myself, usually after getting undressed.
Most of these items I would never have counted as “accomplishments” in my life as a farmer or a tire dealer. They were things you had to do in order to get to the “real work.”
However, in reality they are accomplishments, and counting them helped me to have an objective measure of what I had done in a day—no matter how little I could say in my new language.
Now, many years later, each evening after getting into bed, I take the time to think through my day, thanking God for all the things He helped me to accomplish, big or small—as well as for the things that I was not able to accomplish, for that is in His hands, too.
This almost always changes my emotional perception of the day from a sad, melancholic view to a warm and thanks-filled one. I then go to sleep in the positive truth that God has carried me through, used me in some way and thereby accomplished some of His great plan for the universe.
Going to sleep in the positive usually assures that I wake up with a thankful heart. Psalm 143:8 describes this: “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.” When I go to sleep trusting in God and His version of the day, then I wake up thinking of His unfailing love, which gives me a great start on the next day.
So don’t trust the negative emotional perception of your day that your natural self feeds you. Learn to, in the evening, objectively think through your day and count every positive thing that comes to mind, across the whole spectrum from brushing your teeth to leading someone to the Lord. And rejoice in Him!