Wednesday, March 7, 2012
My Lent: Part 3
Whoa, boy. This whole, "Let me give up negative thinking for Lent" thing is... it's not easy. Most of the time, I don't even realize what I'm thinking until I already thought it. Know what I mean? After I've judged the "plastic" woman at the grocery store, or after I've gotten angry at the drama maker on facebook or after I've grumbled about a chore that needs to be done, AFTER I do it, then I realize what I've done. I've had to do some serious pondering this week and here's some truths that I came to terms with:
1) I will never be perfect. Until I get to heaven and am sitting at the feet of God, I will not be perfect. Striving for perfection is different from being it. And by the grace of God, I am allowed to and meant to strive for it.
2) Ridding my mind of negative thinking will not happen over night. Nor will it happen by the end of Lent. It is a life style change and a choice. It will never fully happen but it will not be impossible to fill my mind and heart with positivity.
3) I am not a slave to sin. Romans 6 confirms that once we are in Christ, once we have become Christians, we are "dead to sin" meaning that sin no longer lives in us. We do not obey it's command or it's lusts and desires. Does this mean that I wont sin? No. It just means that I do not answer to it any more. Becoming a Christian gave me life, hope and a will to do what is right. To live in righteousness and not sin. To answer to God and live for Him instead of the selfish corruption that was my old self. I do not HAVE to think negatively. I have the choice and the ability and now the strength, through Christ, to think positively.
4) My idea of negativity was off. I read the news. I know, I know. I said I wouldn't. I just didn't realize how much of a part of my daily routine it was. I read the news the morning after the tornadoes came through Alabama and into Georgia, ripping through the land just a few miles away from where I live. I read a story about a little girl, 14 months old I think, who was found in a field, far from where she lived. Her family had died. It broke my heart. Days later, after being in the hospital, she died from her injuries. My first reaction was sadness and then it was frustration. My sadness wasn't negative. Sure, it wasn't a positive emotion but it was a normal, healthy reaction to something painful like a child loosing her family and being harmed to the point of death. The frustration and the thoughts I had during that time were wrong. I wont go into detail but I was angry that she died, that these storms were robbing people of their lives and that nothing was being done to stop it. Me accusing God of not stopping the storms was wrong. I have no right to question God. I have no right to accuse Him of doing anything but what will ultimately glorify Him. My brooding that followed was negative. Being frustrated with injustice and the prevail of evil is one thing. Questioning God's right to do as He will is another matter.
5) God WANTS me to be joyful. He WANTS me to be happy and has expressed His love for me over and over again. There's absolutely no reason why I can't find positive things to think about. I understand that every one has ups and downs. But my thinking pattern has always had a pessimistic tone. I've always managed to find the bad, the ugly and the hurt in a situation. God didn't plan for that. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that God has plans of peace and prosperity for us. Not evil and pain. He has given me many positive things to spend my time and thoughts on. I have beautiful healthy children. I have a loving husband. We have been blessed with a roof over our heads, a supportive family, friends and all of the other things as well. The wind chime making beautiful music outside my window as I write this. The faithful dog warming my feet right now. The sound of my children laughing in the living room. The garden in our back yard that has carrots, cucumbers, beans, peppers and much more sprouting in it already. I always found the phrase "attitude of gratitude" a little cheesy until now. Really. Being thankful for what you have instead of resenting what you don't have is precious. It's crucial and it's healthy. Having started my own "countdown" of 1000 gifts, I've been able to find joy in every day life so much more. I've been able to think more positively, be happier and to share that joy with those around me. I don't have it down full time yet but I'm getting there.
Negativity will only produce more negativity. When has it ever produced anything positive? Never. Being positive, make the choice to be joyful, to be mindful of thoughts (which more often than not determine my words and actions) produce good, produce a lifestyle that is beneficial to me and those around me.
My goals for this next week are to concentrate more on the blessings that God has given me, to focus more on the Truth God has given me, being more mindful of what I'm thinking about (almost to think before I think) and to make sure my actions reflect positivity.