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Living on the Right Side of However


I am discovering the power of one little word. It’s a conjunction and if like me, you were raised on a steady diet of Schoolhouse Rock, you will now have that song stuck in your head indefinitely. Sorry about that. But you’ll also remember that a conjunction is the little word that connects two phrases or thoughts and makes them one. However is unique In that it usually joins two opposing ideas. When we see however in a sentence – and certainly when I see it in my life – it signals a change or a turn. Is the change good or bad? I think that depends on which side of the conjunction we choose to set up camp.


It may seem odd, but so much of my peace, joy and sanity in life right now hinges on how I view the howevers I face. Last week’s vacation is a great example.


We were able to get away to our favorite spot on the Oregon coast, however the wheelchair van broke down on the way home.


True story. Accurate sentence. But what actually happened is that it broke down just two miles out of town so we could go back easily. My brother-in-law was able to come with a trailer and pick it up. We had enough room in our other vehicles to get everyone home that day. The delay enabled us to spend a sweet afternoon with my sister, Lila, which also enabled Steve to rest before tackling the rest of the trip home. The however wasn’t a good one and I’m not pretending I’m glad for a car repair – but many good things found their way into the equation and all of us felt it. We felt grace on that whole however situation.


So the sentence is better written (and better lived):


Our wheelchair van broke down on the way back from vacation, however all the details worked out and we made it home just fine.


Here are others:


Our family had to deal with the reality of Steve’s condition while we were away, however we made the most beautiful memories and we all became stronger and grew closer through it.


It is very difficult navigating a wheelchair on a sandy beach, however it was the most we’ve laughed in a long, long time.


For so many years, I lived on the wrong side of the word. I squashed every happy with a sad. Eventually, that evolved into including even the possibility of sad. My schedule is good today, however something will probably go wrong at work. This constant slant toward the negative produces anxiety, frustration and, if left unchecked, bitterness. So much changed for me when I began to let Jesus steer me toward a new perspective.


It may sound like a fancy way of saying, “look on the bright side”, but it’s bigger than that. Though both sides of each situation are true, one side is the stronger truth because it’s redemptive truth.


My flesh and my heart may fail, however God is the strength of my life and my portion forever.


They took Him down and buried Him in a tomb, however God raised Jesus from the dead.


Do you see how redemption follows and swallows the despair in those sentences? Both sides are true, but they are not equal truth because – and this is the kicker – the despair is temporary and the rescue is permanent. Isn’t that the coolest thing? It is. Because sometimes in the darkest nights of life, finding the upside can feel like looking for the Mona Lisa at a garage sale. But when we can’t see a single speck of redemption, salvation enables us to push our vision out beyond the horizon of our timeline and peer into the promises of a world with no howevers.


My husband has ALS, however his life is hidden with Christ who stole death’s sting, bought Steve’s freedom and dries every tear.


That’s the right side of however for me. I’m trying to learn to live there.


With hope,




P.S.: Portland friends: I’ll be in your lovely city this Sunday speaking at Horizon Church. I’d love to see you there at 8:15, 9:30 or 11:15!

May 27, 2014 - 8:43 am

brit - so well said. i cringe at the sound of silver linings and bright sides but how you explained the stronger side of however gives me the wiggle room to see the light. thank you.

May 27, 2014 - 9:08 am

Jane Lellman - I miss the however!

May 27, 2014 - 10:50 am

Donna Jameson - Wow! Thank you for this word today, Bo! It’s just what I needed.

May 27, 2014 - 7:27 pm

Beth Yancey - Can’t wait to see and hear you at Horizon Sunsay.

May 27, 2014 - 8:19 pm

Teresa B - Love this. I will be thinking about my “howevers” from now on!

May 28, 2014 - 10:47 am

Debbie Lewis - Dear Bo, Thank you for sharing from your heart and mind. I was reminded today of how important the words of our mouths and the thoughts of our mind are. Then, I read your wonderful blog and it was a confirmation of the same thing!! Wow. I never thought of “however” in this way. It is time for me to speak and think in this way – that God is our Peace and our Answer for everything needed.

Please know that you and Steve are in my prayers for every good thing. Bless you, dear and please keep writing. You are a true inspiration and I always feel closer to the Lord when I read your words. xo

June 18, 2014 - 8:32 am

Melissa - Thank you for this. People keep asking about our wedding day. There was drama with his family and I have let that totally take over. Instead of saying it was an absolutely beautiful day, I have been jumping right to the negative and it is not doing good things for me, him or our new marriage. I am going to work on my however statements. I appreciate your words!