Life is what you make it- or is it?

Someone recently told me that a friend of theirs, trying to be helpful, had said to them: "life is what you make it."

It sounded like an implied criticism to my friend, especially as she is going through a particularly rough time where it seems nothing is going right.

We discussed this statement briefly and at the time I agreed that it had been a tactless thing to say to her.  Life is not always under our control, sometimes you can try as hard as you like to make it happy, successful, productive, lucrative, whatever and life just sticks two metaphorical fingers up in your face.

You can understand why I might feel like this, particularly this year. We joke (whilst sobbing inside) that if anything can go wrong, it will in my immediate family.

Precious holidays, our fragile savings and good health seem constantly hit with disaster after disaster. I feel doomed sometimes which is particularly hard when you are an active Christian believing in a God who loves us. More than once I have felt like stamping my feet and screaming: "It's not fair!"

Life is what you make it.

This would imply we don't work hard enough, are careless or thoughtless or reckless. That I somehow earned Fibromyalgia, or my husband could have avoided his freak accident which left him unable to work for six months.

But then.......

Then I started to think that maybe what my friend's (slightly tactless) friend was trying to say was not that the dark cloud of bad luck and failed plans were her fault, but that she must not let these disasters get her down.

Lots of people use the past as an excuse for giving up on the future. It's understandable but I believe that this clumsy phrase could act as a mantra, a reminder that every day is a new start and that we don't have to let our past mistakes or experiences define us in a negative way.

Even when life is frankly shit there is always a bright side, always someone worse off.

I am aware I am in danger of sounding like one of those inspirational cards, but to my friend, to those out there feeling like they have a raincloud of doom over their heads and to myself I say.

Life- what will you make of it?