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Wrigley: A mantra of "no bad days" offers hope and joy

How to cure bitterness and despair by changing your attitude

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Nichole Seitz Photography
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Life is hard. And it’s beautiful. Sometimes the facts of our circumstances, especially the painful parts—pain we didn’t cause, can’t control, and cannot cure—leave us unhinged. The truth is that through the mess and muck of life, there is hope. There are blessings and glimmers of light, even if we must squint hard to feel them.

A friend once told me that he doesn’t like the word hope. He declared that this word, hope, is cliched and overused. I probably moved away from him so that the lightning strike (from heaven) didn’t hit me too. The conversation happened more than thirteen years ago. His words are etched in my memory. I hung on them. For thirteen years. Who doesn’t like the word hope?

Perspective and attitude are within our control. We get to steer that ship, even through the darkness, high winds, and bone-crashing waves of life’s hurricanes. Hope doesn’t make life easy. It makes tough times bearable.

I have another friend. His name is Hunter Pinke . He has become North Dakota’s story of hope. With his permission, I am reposting his December 27, social media post :

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PinkeStrong

Hunter shares his story, his hope, his wisdom, his attitude, his perspective to thousands of audiences in schools, churches, and communities. I’ve heard him say he has “No bad days.” There are tough moments. Moments of extreme sadness and loneliness, a quick pity party. But he yanks himself out of that hole and pivots to see the light of hope and goodness and blessings. I can imagine it takes Herculean strength that only God can provide.H

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Hunter lives in his loss every single day with a grateful heart. There are moments of frustration. Flickers of anger and sadness. And yet he is steadfast in not surrendering these emotions to accumulate into full days, weeks, months, and years of bitterness.

No bad days . Three simple words stoked with power and purpose.

Loss is part of life. Sadness quite literally hurts our hearts and, for some of us, it engulfs us. Some challenges in life will change our futures. Forever. If your loss is the result of another human’s foolishness, selfishness, or delinquency, these emotions may bring a bitterness the likes of which you couldn’t have imagined you were capable of feeling. Bitterness tastes good and feels justifiable. It masks the hurt. So how do we find hope?

I read in a devotional that “Bitterness doesn’t have a core of hate, but rather a core of hurt.” As a school counselor, I remind myself (often) that the students who are hardest to love need love the most. They’re crying out for help and love because they’re hurting and don’t know how to communicate their pain.

Bitterness is the exact opposite of the way God designed our hearts to work. But when our hearts are hurting or suffering from tremendous loss or trauma, we sometimes protect them with a shield of bitterness. This is natural, but not helpful.

So what can we do? How do we crawl out of the darkness of bitterness? How does Hunter Pinke decide that there are no bad days as he sits in his wheelchair and looks at the changed landscape staring back at him?

Deciding to sit in our grief, sadness, despair, and loss can be a good cure for bitterness. Plant seeds of hope. Get help. Talk to a professional counselor. Write and document your loss and pain in a journal. Sit in it. Feel it. Then move. Exercise. Go for a walk. Help someone or volunteer. Do something outside of yourself to support someone in need. Find joy. Chase peace. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in hope and force you out of the darkness. Pray and give. Consider opening your heart and letting tenderness in and give yourself grace to heal.

I understand. I have sat in the depths of loss and despair. Hurting and allowing bitterness to invade my good and godly heart was an instinctive – though not healthy – reaction to pain. The longer I rested in the bitterness, the harder my once-soft heart grew. Decide to get unstuck. Squint to find the hope in the shards of pain. It is there, my friend.

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Hunter Pinke recommends stacking good moments on top of good moments until the minutes become hours and the hours turn into no bad days. Here’s to living more life, feeling hope, finding joy, and loving one another, my friends.

Kathleen Wrigley is a wife, mom and advocate. She is made with equal amounts of grace and grit, with gobs of giggles and gratitude.
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