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How to Make a Bad Day Better

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When was the last time you had a bad day? I bet it wasn’t long ago.

“I’m very grateful for the award tonight. I’m very proud of my brothers and sisters that were in the categories. Y’all put out great bodies of music. Support the music, right? Because it’s good music.”

Have you ever wondered how to turn those days around?

Recently, a bad travel day almost undid me. My family and I were moving abroad, so we hauled eight suitcases to the airport. After we stood in line two hours, an unhappy airline agent rejected four of our bags for being overweight. We dragged the offending suitcases to one side and threw away 15 pounds of our belongings. (Believe me, rifling through your underwear in front of strangers makes for a bad day!) Then we waited in line another hour to pass through security before finally grabbing lunch at 4:00 p.m.

You don’t have to travel to have a bad day. Flat tire days, sick kid days, and tense work days happen to all of us.

Bad days happen, but they don’t have to undo us

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No matter how difficult our day, we can always end it on a better note with God. The Examen is a powerful prayer tool to help you find glimmers of God even on your worst days. You might be surprised to learn that it comes from Ignatius of Loyola, who taught his Jesuit followers to look back over each day using five steps.

You don’t have to be a monk to pray like this. Amazingly, this 500-year-old spiritual practice remains relevant today for business executives, housewives, engineers, and students.

5 steps to make a bad day better by ending it on a positive note:

1. Remember God’s presence.

“My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)

Even after a trying day, God will quiet your soul as you remember His presence and intentionally seek to enter into it. Remember He’s with you. Invite Him to make Himself present to you.

2. Respond to Him with thanks.

“Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me.” (Psalm 50:23)

Giving thanks gives God glory and helps us look on the bright side of a bad day. What small blessings can you thank God for?

3. Reflect on how God showed Himself to you.

“For God does speak–now one way, now another– though no one perceives it…” (Job 33:14)

God reveals himself through scripture, but we also see glimpses of him in nature, events, and people. Sometimes He shows up loudly through miraculous, divine intervention. Other times He shows Himself quietly through the beauty of a flower or an earnest conversation. During my bad travel day, God showed me His mercy through the kindness of an airline attendant. As you look back over your day, can you identify moments where you sensed God’s revelation or intervention?

4. Repent of your failings.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)

I don’t like recognizing my own sin, but repentance is key to continual renewal in our relationship with God. We fail God every day, but bad days have a way of making sin spew out of us. We vent our frustrations. We fret and worry instead of trusting. We open the door to addiction. In the heat of a difficult moment, we react in anger. (You should have heard my husband and I bickering as we went through our suitcases at the airport.)

As you reflect on your day, remember specific points where you failed. Bring your shortcomings before God and ask Him to forgive you.

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5. Resolve to grow.

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

God is in the business of changing us, so don’t let your failings discourage or define you. His mercies are always new. Accept His forgiveness. Ask Him for grace to change. Is there anything you need to make right or anyone you need to apologize to? What can you do differently tomorrow?

Bad days don’t have to undo us.

We can make even a bad day better when we look for glimpses of God and ways to grow.

Related: These 6 Couples Didn’t Let Storms of Life Ruin Their Wedding Days!

The prayer of Examen gives us five steps to process our day. I like praying through these before bedtime to prepare for a good night’s rest, but you don’t have to wait until then. A few minutes of prayer at lunch can press a reset button on your day. Prayer on the way home from work might help you get in a better frame of mind to spend the evening with your family.

Find a time that works for you, but don’t wait for a bad day to try this. The prayer of Examen will also make a good day even better. Practicing this now will equip you to better deal with a difficult day the next time one comes around.

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