The Choice to be Cheerful

Have you ever read accommodation reviews and wondered if the people actually stayed at the same spot? There’ll be a stack of 4- and 5-star reviews, and then some 1-stars. Raves about how great everything is, and rants about miserable service and conditions.

My husband and I read the usual gamut when picking an overnight spot for an impulse trip to Prince Edward Island. We decided that mixed reviews are mostly about what people look for. Some folks are never satisfied.

Prince Edward Island National Park

PEI National Park

PEI is maybe a four hour drive from our home, and My husband had never been there. I hadn’t been since I was a child. It was time.

Some would say it wasn’t quite the right time.

It was the Victoria Day long weekend* and time for those with cottages to consider opening up for the summer. I think most cottagers stayed home, because Atlantic Canada was cold that weekend. There was snow. I saw bits of hail.

Our lodging was designed for summer use. It was cold, and it stayed cold, although after a while we couldn’t see our breath.

Remembering the cranky reviewers, we stayed determinedly cheerful. Even when morning came with no hot water.

But I wondered if that was the final straw that would turn me into a grump. (And I wasn’t the one who discovered the hard way just how cold the water was!)

Most of us can handle a few irritations or troubles, but after a while we get tired of being patient and we think we’ve had enough. And I’ve often thought it seems like life piles on “just one more” until we crack.

The enemy of our souls would suggest we just start spewing at the first problem. “It’s inevitable.” Except it isn’t.

As I heated water in the kettle so I could wash, I realized it’s not about my choice to be positive. It’s about my reliance on—my confidence in—God as the one in control, my Shepherd, He who will look after me in any circumstance.

That’s the peace, not whether things are good or bad. That’s the source of contentment, not my decision to be cheerful (although that’s good too).

Our overnight stay turned out to be more “roughing it” than we’d planned, but it taught me something important: Be positive, but more than that, remember and trust in God.


Woodpecker at the Anne of Green Gables heritage site

Because sometimes life stinks, and we can still have security and even joy in God. That’s what the Apostle Paul said: “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation… For I can do everything through Christ…” (Philippians 4:12-13, NLT)

And lest anyone feel sorry for us, we actually did have a delightful day once we got back on the road. We went to the beach (in jackets and hoods) to watch the waves and seabirds, saw two beautiful herons, strolled the grounds of the Anne of Green Gables heritage sites, walked quietly through a prayer garden, ate lobster burgers accompanied by some classic tunes from our younger years, indulged in some COWS ice cream… and my sweet husband bought me some birthday gifts. The day turned out to be the first of  50 good memories I’m to record in the journal he gave me the next day, on my actual birthday. Best birthday ever? I think so.

I’m so glad we didn’t let the cold ruin it. And I hope we get back to PEI when the normal tourists go, in the summer when it’s warm!


*Yes, Canada appears to be the only country where Queen Victoria’s birthday is a national holiday. No, I don’t personally care about her birthday. Yes, I would consider renaming it. But let there be no talk of us losing a statutory holiday.

8 thoughts on “The Choice to be Cheerful

  1. Janis Cox

    Exactly the outlook that we need in every situation. Now – we have to remember that. We have the choice to be grumpy or joyful. let’s choose to be joyful each day in the Lord. SMILE – See More In Life Everyday.

    1. Janet Sketchley

      Perspective — I think that’s the key, Melody. When we let ourselves get into frustration mode we forget the bigger picture, that God is our Good Shepherd.

  2. Mary Waind

    More excited than ever about visiting N.S. and P.E.I., Janet, but you’re right about the timing – not the May holiday. No hot water! Brrrrrr!


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