“Daddy, I’ve got bad news!”
I’m getting into the car after making the mistake of sending my youngest two children out to the garage on their own. I finish getting in and I look in the rearview mirror. My son’s face is contorted by righteous fury. “She called me stupid two times!”
On this particular morning, I simply don’t have the energy to sort out discrepant eyewitness testimonies, request the appropriate apologies, and mediate forgiveness. So, instead, I say, “Do you have any good news for me?”
His face turns thoughtful and then a smile breaks out upon it. “I found my fleece under the seat!” He holds up a ball of something blue that looks vaguely like the fleece he lost last autumn. I smile, too.
The world is full of bad news.
And the world is full of good news.
Which will you choose?
Bad News and Good News
The bad news, if we choose it, can make despair grow within us. And the truth is, we don’t even have to choose the bad news. It chooses us. Life is messy, and the massive media industry survives by bringing it to us relentlessly. Despair is the main event in cable news and online media. Yet, good news, if we choose it, can make hope grow within us. For instance:
I’ve got bad news: a year later, and they still haven’t found Flight MH370. It’s heartbreaking and tragic and the grief of it needs to be felt. And I’ve also got good news: since MH370 disappeared, more than ten million commercial flights have landed safely, and a number of those flights have carried volunteers to West Africa to provide aid in the Ebola epidemic—they’ve risked their lives because they believe all lives are worth the risk.
I’ve got bad news: Ferguson happened. And I’ve got good news: I know someone who spent their holidays in Ferguson, working for peace and healing in that community, because she believes love is a like a white blood cell—it always rushes to the site of the wound.
I’ve got bad news: ISIS is what happens when the human ego hijacks a religion for its own agenda. And I’ve got good news: all over the world right now men and women everywhere are subordinating their egos to their souls, choosing love over hatred, unity over tribalism, and compassion over violence.
I’ve got bad news: the world is falling apart. And I’ve also got good news: I know a little girl who can turn a fake laugh into a contagious belly laugh—every time, and somewhere right now one human being is looking another human being in the eye and they are both becoming more human in the moment, and the great big story of this great big human project isn’t over, and it may look bleak right now but that’s how every good story looks right before the mess gets redeemed.
Now we’re in the minivan driving to school. My son is still holding his rediscovered blue fleece and a smile still lingers on his face, when we turn a corner and see bad news ahead of us. An accident. A woman’s car has crashed into a snow bank and is marooned on a drift.
And then we see the good news.
A young man has pulled over, removed the floor mats from his own car, and he’s inserting them under her wheels in an attempt to give her traction and free her car.
The bad news is everywhere.
And the good news is, too.
Which Will You Choose?
I’ve got bad news: the world is a wreck. Like a car impaled on a snow bank, the world has gone off the rails. But I’ve got good news, every time another mess happens, every time another accident occurs, every time another wound is inflicted, every time another conflict arises, every time something or someone crumbles a little more…every time…it is the seed of good news. Every time, it can be the birthplace of redemption. And, if we look closely, more often than not, we’ll see good news is born from it.
Let’s choose to be aware of the good news.
Better yet, let’s choose to become the good news.
In his debut novel, Kelly weaves a page-turning, plot-twisting tale that explores the spiritual depths of identity and relationships, amidst themes of healing, grace, faith, forgiveness, and freedom.
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Dr. Kelly Flanagan is a psychologist, author, consultant, and speaker who enjoys walking with people through the three essentials of a truly satisfying life: worthiness, belonging, and purpose. His blog writings have been featured in Reader’s Digest, The Huffington Post, The 5 Love Languages, and the TODAY Show. Kelly is the author of Loveable and True Companions.