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The Graduate

The silver linings mindset

Megan Kinsella
MSN Class of 2013

(1/2014) One Friday, about a month ago, a friend gave me a ride home from work so I could eat a quick lunch. I had gone out to start my car earlier that morning and, much to my chagrin, it wouldn’t start. The engine turned over and over but just wouldn’t catch. It was one of my busiest days of the week, as I had meetings to go to, bible studies to lead, errands to run, and a retreat coming up that weekend that still needed planning. So, I got a ride in to Our Lady of Wisdom where we work, and got busy. The morning was a whirlwind of phone calls, making reservations, and meeting with students about different events going on at the Catholic Student Center.

My teammate John dropped me off at home for lunch and as he drove away I walked to my front door, only to realize that my apartment keys were on the same key ring as my car keys— which were hanging on the hook right inside my locked apartment door. Rolling my eyes, I pulled my cell phone out of my backpack to call my roommates who were still at work. Seeing that my cell phone was dead, I repressed a frustrated scream and huffed down onto our front stoop. Having nothing better to do, I took a deep breath, sat down, and looked up into the sky. It was the first time during my busy day that I actually had time to take a deep breath and simply BE.

The sky was so clear and deep blue, the sun was magnificent and warm, and there was a tiny bird singing in the tree next to our car port. It was all so very simple, but it was exactly what I needed. In the middle of my hectic day, God helped me slow down. He locked me out of my apartment so I could take a thirty minute break, because He knew I wouldn’t give myself one otherwise! Although I had a mile-long "to do" list, I had absolutely no control over the situation. I very easily could have gotten stressed and frustrated, but instead God allowed me to see my self-diagnosed plight in a better light; the silver lining to my "cloudy" day.

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about silver linings. We all know that old saying about every cloud having one. It is such good imagery, and very practical. No matter what, we will always have clouds in our lives: car trouble, sickness, frustrating relationships, financial struggle, and on and on. But, no matter what, those clouds are always brightened by the little slivers of light shining behind them. It’s up to us, though, to decide whether we pay more attention to the cloud or its brighter counterpart. We can’t control the things that happen to us, but we can control how we react to those things! Looking out for the silver linings in every situation is what makes all the difference.

At the beginning of the semester, my teammates and I were working nonstop, full speed ahead from the very beginning. We were so busy that we weren’t getting enough sleep, not eating right, and not exercising at all. After a few weeks of completely running myself into the ground, I caught the flu and was stuck in bed for a week. At first, I was annoyed with myself for not taking better care of myself, and frustrated that everyone else was doing all the work and I couldn’t help at all.

I lay in bed pouting for the whole first day, feeling miserable for myself. My roommate, playing the "mom card," walked into my room and asked how I was feeling. I told her that I felt miserable and angry. She laughed at me, gave me a hug, and told me to take advantage of being sick while I could— rest up now while you have an excuse. BOOM, there it was… the silver lining! I was obviously sick for a reason, so instead of being angry and trying to pretend I wasn’t sick, I had to realize that God was giving me the rest that I so badly needed— and He had to make me sick to realize how bad I really did need it! So, for the rest of the week I drank gallons of chicken noodle soup, read the books that had been piling up on my "to read" list, and let my roommates take care of me. Naturally, in the weeks following, I had more energy than I can ever remember.

In middle school, we used to bring treats in for our birthday every year to share with the class. It always made you feel so special when you could stand up in front of the class, tell them all about your pink, frosted cupcakes and why they are your favorite, and then walk among the aisles passing them out. My birthday is on December 19th, which means it usually falls on a day when we were already off school for Christmas break. I remember only two times that we actually had school on my birthday, which made those two times so much more special.

I was in fifth grade when I turned 10, on Friday the 19th… and it was the last day of school before the Christmas holiday! My mom and I slaved away in the kitchen for hours the night before, making chocolate chip cookie bars smothered in peanut butter icing. I was so excited that I could hardly sleep that night. The next morning I woke up early, put on my uniform, sprinted downstairs, threw the door wide open, and stopped short. What I saw brought big fat tears rolling down my cheeks. Thick drifts of snow covered the grass, trees, and roads, and it wasn’t anywhere close to being finished snowing. I collapsed into a little heap of tears on the carpet and my parents, to no avail, tried to console me.

It was that morning that my parents introduced me to the silver-linings-mindset. My mom told me that, "Yes honey, it might be very sad that you can’t give your treats out at school today, but there are so many other fun things that you can do on your snow day." I very soon forgot my sadness and was playing out in the snow with my older brother and sister. In the afternoon my dad walked me around to all the neighbors’ houses to knock on their front doors and hand out my birthday treats— it was even more fun than handing them out at school! That snow day was one of many of God’s birthday gifts to me that year.

This January, in the snow and ice and wind, I urge us all to concentrate on the positives rather than the negatives. The silver linings are always there for us to fine, all we have to do is look for them! God bless you all in this New Year.

Megan graduated from Mount St. Mary’s in May and is now a full-time missionary for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. She is serving at the University of Louisiana Lafayette for the 2013-2014 school year, working primarily with student-athletes.

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