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Having a Bad Day? Don't Respond Badly.

Having a bad day? Don’t respond badly.

bad day bad response

It was a bad day. In fact, it was a bad week. Each day brought it’s own little unpleasant surprise

A car wreck got the week off to a particularly bad start. No one was seriously hurt, thank God, and that’s all that matters—but a .005 second mistake by a distracted driver has perhaps totaled my car and led to countless phone calls from ambulance chasers and body shops, endless insurance agency interviews, and car rental runaround.

This was followed by a package from our accountant with a not-what-you-hoped-to-hear tax situation, which led to 86 updates to our FAFSA form. If you don’t know what a FAFSA is, count yourself lucky. If you’re filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, your kid is heading off to college. {sniff sniff} Our daughter just announced her college choice 1,306 miles and two time zones from home.

Then, my dying computer’s replacement finally arrived after three failed attempts to purchase it online because the billing and shipping address didn’t match. I booted up the new beauty and was prompted to enter my name … only to find that the “a” key didn’t work. The replacement for the replacement turned out to be too small, and the whole rigamarole was ten hours wasted … POOF! Gone! Never to be seen again.

My husband had a frustrating week at work, and our daughter had drama at school. None of us were very good company by the time the weekend rolled around. I was cranky, irritated and frustrated when this verse reached out and slapped me:

Refrain from anger and give up your rage; do not be agitated—it can only bring harm.” Psalm 37:8 HCSB

My week wasn’t bad because someone hit my car, or because we owed a little money to the IRS. It wasn’t even bad because of technical glitches and unproductive errands. My week was bad because I had let anger, rage and agitation take over.

The same Hebrew word translated anger (chemah) is also translated as poison or venom, and I drank a little more of it with each passing day. And the word translated agitated can mean “to make a loud noise … the sense of trembling, which arises from being struck.” When we’re struck with everyday inconveniences, it’s tempting to make a loud noise that leaves the poor claims adjustor or customer service representative trembling!

When my week fell apart, I wanted to put it back together myself. I could have made a few calls, voiced a few opinions, made a few people as mad as I was. I could have influenced outcomes and demanded my way.

When Jesus was put upon and worn out, He didn’t get cranky, angry or agitated. You can read about Jesus’ bad day in Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9 and John 6.

“Throngs of people began to follow Him everywhere He went. Jesus was grieving the murder of His dear friend and relative, John the Baptist, yet people pressed in on Him from every side, wanting to touch Him, demanding his attention, and asking Him to fix their problems. As Jesus tried to get away with His disciples to find a quiet place to rest, the crowds clamored for His attention. There was no time to eat, let alone pray or mourn.

“You could say Jesus was having a bad day.

“And that’s okay. We all have bad days. Most of us, however, react badly to a bad day. But not Jesus. He stopped. He looked into His neighbors’ eyes, and was moved with compassion. He saw people who were lost, directionless, searching. He sat with them all day and poured himself into them.”

from How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird by Amy Lively

Jesus knew the rest of Psalm 37, which also reminded me, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires,” (verse 4) and, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act,” (verse 7) and, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives” (verse 23).

God can handle the details, He doesn’t need any help from me. All He asks from me is to respond to life’s daily drudgery with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I would add trust to that list. I’m learning to trust that He is in control. He can use fender benders and frustrations to accomplish his will in my life.

Getting mad doesn’t do any good — in fact, it only does harm.

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Amy Lively (23 Posts)

Amy Lively is a speaker and the author of "How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird" (May, Bethany House). She provides tips and tools for Christ’s #2 command drawing from her own experience knocking on her neighbors’ doors and leading a women’s neighborhood Bible study called The Neighborhood Cafe. She is passionate about helping people identify their unique ministry gifts and use them in their community. Amy lives in Lancaster, Ohio with her husband, their daughter, a holy dog and an unsaintly cat. Learn more at www.howtoloveyourneighbor.com.


  1. Amen! Hope this week is better for you.

  2. Gee….perfect timing……..a little past the “Don’t respond badly” side, but ever so timely.

    As I humbly ask forgiveness from God and my husband….i am reminded of my ever so meaningful favorite Psalm and the verses that keeps me in check and allows me to breath a sigh of relief. Which is Psalm 103:12-14 (NIV) “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our trangressions (here I have many) from us. As a father has compassion on his children,so the Lord has compassion onthose who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust”. I can almost recite the whole psalm completly by memory.

    Now if i can just be reminded the next “Having a bad day’, before I get to the “don’t respond badly” part.

    Thank you for your delightful blog. You share some well thought out food for thought.

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