A Musing about Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days

Are you familiar with the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? I used to read it to my kids when they were little.


It is a children’s book about Alexander and, yep you guessed it, his Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!


I found the following summary of Alexander’s Bad Day on the internet:


Alexander narrates the story of having a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day. It started when Alexander woke up with the bubble gum that was in his mouth when he fell asleep had now gotten stuck in his hair. Then, when he got out of bed, he tripped on his skateboard. In the bathroom, he accidentally dropped his favorite sweater and it ended up in the sink while the water was on.


At breakfast, his brothers, Anthony and Nick, find prizes in their breakfast cereal boxes. But while Anthony and Nick have cool toys, Alexander only finds cereal in his box without any prize at all. Alexander resolves that he is going to move away to Australia.

In the carpool on the way to school, Alexander has to sit in the middle between two other kids in the back. He complains about how uncomfortable he is and that he will get carsick unless he gets to sit at the window, but no one listens. At school, his teacher Mrs. Dickens disqualifies Alexander's picture of an invisible castle (which is actually just a blank sheet of paper) preferring Paul's picture of a sailboat. At singing time, she claims that Alexander sang too loud. Then at counting time, Alexander forgets to count “16” when the class is counting from 1 to 20. When Mrs. Dickens tells him this, he retorts that no one needs "16" and again laments how bad his day is.


But the problems have still only begun. At recess, he learns that he is no longer Paul’s best friend. Paul has decided to choose Phillip as his first best friend and Albert his second best while Alexander has been brought down to third best. Alexander's response is that he hopes that Paul sits on a tack and also that the next time when he gets an ice cream cone, the ice cream will fall off and land somewhere in Australia. Then at lunchtime, all four close friends have desserts in their lunch sack, except for Alexander. Respectively, there are two cupcakes for Phillip’s dessert, a Hershey bar with almonds for Albert, and Paul has a jelly roll with coconut sprinkles. But since Alexander's mother forgot to put in dessert, there is no dessert with his lunch. Once again, Alexander laments having a "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day".


Alexander soon learns the reason why his lunch lacked a dessert; after school he is taken along with his siblings to the dentist. At the appointment, the dentist, Dr. Fields finds Alexander is the only one with a cavity. Dr. Fields announces that he will call Alexander in next Thursday and fix it. To which Alexander repeats his plan about moving to Australia for good. Alexander then recalls other bad things on the way back to the car. First the elevator door closed on his foot and outside Anthony pushed Alexander into a mud puddle. Then, as Alexander cried, Nick called him a "cry baby". Finally, when Alexander started a fight with his brother for calling him names, his mother scolded him for getting dirty and starting a fight.


At the shoe store, one brother buys white shoes with red stripes while the other gets blue shoes with white stripes. Alexander wants blue sneakers with red stripes, but they are sold out. His mother buys him plain white shoes, which are the only shoes available in his size. Alexander states that the store may sell them to him but he refuses to wear them. When his family comes to pick up his father at the office, Alexander gets in trouble for making a mess and playing with the following things in the office: the copy machine, the stack of books, and the telephone (which he wanted to use to call Australia). This culminates in the father asking the family not to pick him up anymore.


That night, the family has lima beans for dinner which Alexander hates; he also hates seeing kissing on TV. During Alexander's bath, the water is too hot, he gets soap in his eyes, his marble gets lost in the drain, and then he has to wear his "railroad-train" pajamas which he hates as well. Lastly at bedtime, his nightlight burns out, he bites his tongue, Nick has taken back a pillow he said Alexander could keep and the cat decides not to sleep with Alexander, but with Anthony.


The final scene is where Alexander recalls to himself that it simply boils down to that he had a bad day. He then recalls that his mother reassured him that some days are like that. As Alexander drifts off to sleep, he remarks "...even in Australia!"


Have you ever had a bad day or two? Maybe it has been a series of bad days. Maybe you have or are still suffering with issues that have led to anxiety and depression. If so, you are not alone.


Somewhere between 15% and 20% of Americans take prescription medications to help battle depression and anxiety, and that number is growing almost exponentially. In fact, last June, the FDA placed Zoloft—a popular anti-depressant medication—on the drug shortage list, along with toilet paper and hand sanitizer. And prescriptions for antidepressants and anti-anxiety and anti-insomnia medications shot up 21% between February and March 2020 alone, according to industry data.


Of course, bad days and depression and struggles are nothing new in this world and they certainly are not new among God’s people. Abraham and Sarah, Jacob, Moses, David, Isaiah, the disciples, people Jesus ministered to on his journeys, the Apostle Paul and so many more struggled with doubts and anxiety.


Jesus knew we struggled. He knew life was hard. That is why he invited us to take on his yoke and throw ours off.


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”


Of course, you know I think it sometimes helps to hear familiar Bible verses in a new way. Listen to two other renditions of Jesus talking about taking his yoke upon our shoulders.


The first is from Clarence Jordan’s The Cotton Patch Gospel of Matthew: “Come to me, all of you who are frustrated and have had a bellyful, and I will give you zest. Get in the harness with me and let me Leach you, for I am trained and have a cooperative spirit, and you will find zest for your lives. For my harness is practical, and my assignment is joyful.”


The second is from Eugene Peterson’s The Message: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”


Now I am not about to tell anyone (including myself) to go off any medication—medication and exercise and good sleep and a healthy diet and prayer and meditation are all important and are all part of God’s gifts to stay well. But I am saying that we never have to do any of this alone. And in fact, we can hand over to God all of those things weighing us down, especially those we cannot control. It is the gift our savior offered us


At Lent many people give up something as a part of their spiritual practices. After the season they resume whatever it was they gave up—be it diet coke or social media or TV. However, what I am encouraging all of us to do is to let go of something that we cannot control permanently in order to accept Jesus’s assignment of joy.


An idea of some things we can let go of are the past, other people’s happiness, other folk’s choices, the weather, world events, Atlanta traffic and the future. I am sure you have your own list of things as well and I bet you can make them even more specific—I know I can.


Regardless of the list, Jesus offers us a hand to hold on those no good, awful, horrible, very bad days.


Even when those bad days go on for days or months or longer.


Thanks be to God for such a gift.


Alleluia. Amen.





By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5144062

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