Which song makes you smile?
Jason Gray’s “Good to be Alive” is my recurring song of gratitude these days. It’s from Jason’s A Way to See in the Dark album. For those not familiar, you can find the track here.
As I listen to that song, things stop around me. It occurs to me, one again, how blessed I am to be alive today. Gratitude to God rises in my heart and tears start to glaze over my eyes.
Years ago, as a high school student not far from Cleveland, my chemistry teacher mentioned to our class that he’d had car trouble the other day. He also mentioned he’d started to laugh on the side of the road.
We asked him what was so funny. Nothing was funny, he said. We asked him why he laughed. His reply intrigued me: “You can either laugh or cry, so you might as well laugh.”
Sometimes people say things that you take to heart and adopt as a personal standard by which you want to live your life.
I don’t remember much about my chemistry teacher. All I remember is the day he got ready to perform an experiment in front of the class using chemicals and probably a flame or mechanized device. He told those sitting in the front row—which included me—that we might want to get up and stand back a few feet. When we asked why, he said it was because standing too close could render us sterile. Within a split-second, all of us guys in the front row had bolted from our seats and left plenty of leeway. As a 16-year-old guy, you don’t know everything you want in life, but you know you want your swimmers.
But I digress…
“You might as well laugh.” I’m a Gen-Xer, and Gen-Xers have radar for detecting insincerity. This teacher wasn’t trying to sound clever. His reply was genuine. It sounded like a solid idea to me.
That day, I adopted it as my own.
I try to make people laugh. It’s a fun challenge. But I also enjoy hearing laughter because it means the person’s life just got better. I don’t know where they’re coming from in life, but for that moment, I know their life has a shimmer to it. (So today, I got to dance *NSYNC style for my friend Karis.)
Life is good. We have so much to be thankful for, even on the rough days. It’s in our perception.
Sometimes we have dark seasons in life. Or a gritty circumstance. Or a bad day.
I have a blunt sense of humor, often pointing out the ridiculous aspects of the negatives, just to spite those negatives.
But finding humor in negatives also requires you, by definition, to focus on the negatives. Sometimes the negatives can creep in and build up inside that way.
Oftentimes, whether I’m in the midst of a rough stretch or simply pay attention to negative words that have escaped my mouth over recent weeks, and I discover I’m on a treadmill. I’ll reach the point where I say, “Okay, stop!”
In those moments, I’ll often look up to God and say, “I’m sick of talking about the bad stuff. Thank You for everything that’s right in my life. Thank You for everything that’s going well.”
I’ll make myself find five simple things to be thankful for. Random things that are easy to overlook. It’s amazing the little things that make life so rich: Hot water. The light that hangs in my living room. A flannel shirt. The scent of wet pavement during a summer rain. The way my brother Mike’s handprint feels when he gives me a pat on the back to let me know we have a bond.
That artist Jason Gray? I heard him in a recent radio interview. What a testimony. Many people don’t know this, but that guy—the artist who sings “Good to be Alive” with such fervent passion and strength—fights a stuttering issue. Not an occasional stutter—a severe one. It’s noticeable in almost every sentence he speaks. Yet he fights the fear, takes his stand, and sings about how wonderful life truly is. When he sings, the words come through flawlessly. People who press through barriers inspire me.
We have a big God.
We’re not alive by accident. You and I could have been born any other time. But God let us be born today.
2013 will be a good year. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what’s coming.Today’s playlist: “Good to be Alive” by Jason Gray