The Glad Game


           I hate pity parties. But for someone who hates them, I sure do throw them an awful lot.

          Some things have happened that have caused me to take a step back and look at where I am in life. To evaluate my current situation and ponder the choices I’ve made to get here. That’s healthy. Reality checks are a good, necessary thing. But they can also be quite depressing.

             I got myself in a funk when I spent too much time analyzing these truths can’t be reversed:

1) I made it all the way to my senior year of college, had a 4.0 GPA, but I didn’t get to finish my bachelor’s degree in English.

2) I never wanted to be a nurse, yet that’s the education my parents would pay for, and that’s what my job is now.

3) I still have to pay Sallie Mae a good fraction of my paycheck despite having no bachelor’s degree.

4) My parents are chronically sick, and the future doesn’t look too bright. My friends’ grandparents have healthier, more active lives than they do. 

5) I’m 24, I’m still single, and I have no prospects.

6) I should weigh around 175 by now. Instead, my laziness and lack of self-control allowed me to balloon back up to 190.

7) I always found my identity in my writing and music. But I’m empty when it comes to those things now. I have nothing to offer.

8) The one life goal I actually met, moving out, has only created more new problems. The guy upstairs plays rock music so loud, our pictures on the walls quake on their nails. My dorm at the University of South Alabama was quieter. Oh yeah, and toilet water didn’t leak all over the place.

            After reading all that, can’t you feel the mud and mire sucking you down into the Pit of Despair? Jeez. These are the thoughts I’ve been dwelling on for the past few weeks. And I’ve been mean to everyone because of it. I’ve been emotionally binge-eating. I stopped caring about exercise. I started slacking in my Bible reading and prayer time.

            I’ve just gotten myself into a mess, and I’m ready to get out.

            So, I thought I’d take a little inspiration from Pollyanna and play The Glad Game. If you haven’t read the book/seen the movie, Pollyanna is an impossibly optimistic little girl who brings sunshine and rainbows into the lives of everyone she meets. Here’s a nice little summary I stole from Wikipedia:

Pollyanna's philosophy of life centers on what she calls "The Glad Game", an optimistic attitude she learned from her father. The game consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation. It originated in an incident one Christmas when Pollyanna, who was hoping for a doll in the missionary barrel (her father was a missionary), found only a pair of crutches inside. Making the game up on the spot, Pollyanna's father taught her to look at the good side of things—in this case, to be glad about the crutches because "we didn't need to use them!"

            I've never read the book, but I've seen the movie like 75 times. It really does make you think about things. I've decide to post my own version of The Glad Game right here:

1) I made it all the way to my senior year of college, had a 4.0 GPA, but I didn’t get to finish my bachelor’s degree in English.
I didn’t have to write any more research papers! And I am SO thankful I didn’t take out another $17,000 in loans from Sallie Mae, because that’s what I would have had to do to finish that last year.

2) I never wanted to be a nurse, yet that’s the education my parents would pay for, and that’s what my job is now.
At least my parents had the money and willingness to pay for some education. It may not be what I want to do, but I have a job. And on top of that, it really is a good job, with health insurance and great hours. Not to even mention the fact that so many of my co-workers have been pink-slipped this week, and my boss tells me I'm safe.

3) I still have to pay Sallie Mae a good fraction of my paycheck despite having no bachelor’s degree.
Once again, finishing that degree would have cost $17,000 more dollars in loans, and I would be in twice as much debt as I am now. Plus, $200 a month is a lot less than some people are stuck paying for loans. And because of the Lord’s provision, I’ve never missed a payment.

4) My parents are chronically sick, and the future doesn’t look too bright. My friends’ grandparents have healthier, more active lives than they do. 
Thank God my parents are still alive. And for now, they're well enough to talk to me, and we continue to share a close bond and a special relationship.

5) I’m 24, I’m still single, and I have no prospects.
I’ve never settled for any of those few creepy Mr. Collinses who have pursued me. I’ve stayed true to myself and never lowered my standards. I’m still faithfully waiting and praying for my special man.

6) I should weigh around 175 by now. Instead, my laziness and lack of self-control allowed me to balloon back up to 190.
I used to be 240 pounds. I couldn’t go upstairs without getting out of breath, I couldn’t run more than a few feet, I despised pictures, I suffered heart palpitations, excessive sweating, and acid reflux. My life is radically different than it was a couple of years ago.

7) I always found my identity in my writing and music. But I’m empty when it comes to those things now. I have nothing to offer.
I suppose I’m glad I’m spending more time in the real world these days than I am in my head, making things up. That sounds healthier. Less mentally unbalanced.

8) The one life goal I actually met, moving out, has only created more new problems. The guy upstairs plays rock music so loud, our pictures on the walls quake on their nails. My dorm at the University of South Alabama was quieter. Oh yeah, and toilet water didn’t leak all over the place.
I’m glad I actually met one life goal! That my sister and I are finally at a place where we can pay our own bills. And these problems could be so, so much worse. At least we feel safe. And there’s no rodents or bugs. And the guy upstairs likes classic rock, not country. Or rap.

            Wow. I seriously need to quit whining and shut up. God has taken care of me and blessed me so much, yet I ignore it constantly.

            I guess most of us do that, though. It’s difficult to find the silver lining, especially when you don’t really want to. It’s somehow obscenely comforting to feel sorry for yourself.

            But that’s not what God wants us to do. Bitterness isn’t healthy for anyone. It starts in your heart and infiltrates every part of your life, then spills over into the lives of people around you.

            So I invite you to do this yourself. Play The Glad Game. Play it every day. Do what you can do to change things, but force yourself to stop complaining about the things you can’t change. Stop dwelling on where you think you should be. Focus on where you are. Remember that God has a plan; He meant for you to be where you are right now. He has a reason for all these burdens and roadblocks and seemingly pointless detours.


4 comments

Lacey said...

Wow. Jennifer! This is so uplifting and inspiring! This is an incredibly powerful tool. I'm not even kidding, I think you should make the Glad Game a link up, because it forces you to put things in perspective and more people need to do that. Just reading YOUR struggles and how you see the good in them makes me want to write my own list and be thankful! I think I will make a post similar to this :)

THANK YOU for sharing! You've blessed this girl :) Hope your day is amazing!

Lacey said...

P.S. I love that you referred to the creepy guys as "Mr. Collinses"! Hahaha it's a rare girl who will get that reference :P

Jennifer said...

Thank you so much, Lacey! I'm glad you could get something out of my long, whiny ramble!

I've never done a link-up before; I'm kind of Blogger-illiterate. Maybe Jessica can help me figure out what I'm doing! Thanks for the suggestion!

Jennifer said...

You are right! I'm glad you got it! :) Mr. Collins is such an amusing character. His proposal scene is one of my favorites!