Good question. How does one stay positive in a sea of negativity? After all, there are plenty of things to be angry, scared and fearful about. I would love to cite the latest news story; however, it’s more likely to distract than help.
Yet, a clue is already given in the last statement. I will explain it, shortly. First, I would like to share a story that may help with staying positive in a sea of negativity. You’ll see where I’m going, shortly. Let’s start with the facing of a giant.
What the heck are you talking about?
If you don’t already know, I was born with severe disabilities. I am very nearsighted and hard of hearing. You might think that I am nearly blind, if you saw me reading a printed book. Though I did have problems, my disabilities was never a prison or a giant in need of slaying.
About 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to share my story of overcoming the giants in my life at someone’s church. I honestly don’t recall the name or I’d have given it. The pastor had asked for a disabled person to share his testimony and I gave it, a shot.
My story was to be in conjunction with the pastor’s message of overcoming giants. Naturally, the sermon was based on the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:20-26. A friend suggested reading those Scriptures, beforehand. I did just that and prayed.
How did I do? I totally bombed out. I stood in front of the small church and I totally froze. You’d think that I was a statue. It was the first time that I have done such a thing. I felt like an utter failure. It seems that I disappointed everyone?
There is a touch of irony in the above story. I was asked to share on how I overcame a perceived giant in my life. There is just one problem. What giant? I simply could not see this mysterious giant that others saw. They look at my physical disabilities and they quickly cried out “Giants!”
As for me, my reaction is similar to David. The Israelite army saw a terrifying giant named Goliath; whereas, David saw a man, who needed his butt kicked. They saw the same problems; however, the reactions are polar opposite.
I’m not making light of the challenges posed by physical or mental disabilities. The challenges posed by such disabilities can be enormous. However, your attitude will influence your altitude. This is not a new idea; rather it’s from Col 3:1-2
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Though it was painful, I chose to not get wrapped up in the feeling of failure. If I had done so, then I could not have forgiven church leadership or myself. Is not God greater than my own heart; as per 1 John 3:19-21? In Romans 8:1-3, Paul points out:
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
Here is another tip for staying positive in a sea of negativity. Don’t beat yourself up, over past failure. You will only fill your heart with regrets, condemnation, guilt, anger and bitterness.
I took responsibility for my part in the above debacle. I chose to go to that church and share a personal story. Does it leave my church leadership, off the hook? No, it doesn’t and they apologized.
I suspect that I’ll be better equipped for the next occasion. Why? We learned our lessons from that encounter and we’re moving forward. Could I have done it, if my heart was filled with negative emotions? No.
For me, my past failures were an opportunity to learn and grow; as opposed to my having a pity party. The above story was an easy one; however, I have had times, where I didn’t fair so well. What is the key?
In his letter, James puts it, this way:
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. [James 1:2-4]
Did you read the first sentence? Your attitude will influence your response to the situation surrounding you. It gets better. My old boss, Lorna gave this precious advice that ties into the above comment.
Lorna called it, “osmosis”. When she explained it, I got it and remembered it. How is this connected? Your attitude does not affect you, alone. It has the potential to affect the people around you. This advice isn’t limited to one’s attitude; it’s also our response to a situation.
What if, I prayed for my agitated supervisor; as opposed to reacting to it. What if, I chose to relax and not take ownership of her problems. Would it not help others to stay calm, too?
As I consider the next tip, an old classic comes to mind. It’s the favorite of many in the recovery community. It’s the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Do you get it? I can’t change other people or control their reaction. I can only encourage certain behaviors or discourage it. In the end, it’s their choice. I can only change myself.
My supervisor had a problem and it’s hers, alone. I can’t take ownership of something that doesn’t belong to me. It’s one thing to pray for someone, listen and give a word of encouragement.
It’s a different story to take ownership of someone else’s problem. If you can learn this, then you will avoid a boatload of trouble or negativity. In the end, they have to take responsibility for themselves. You can’t do it, for them.
I will leave you, with one final tip. It’s rooted in Jesus’ answer to anxiety. Simply put, we solve nothing with worrying about our problems. It’s still there.
If I recall, anxiety is not exactly a quality of positive thinking, biblical or otherwise. Right? If anything, it requires a proactive solution. Here is what Jesus says in Matt 6:25-34:
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I would encourage you to give your worries to God, the Father. He does know your need and cares; however, you still need to talk with God. Listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to you. It all begins with a relationship with Jesus. For no one can come to the Father; except through Jesus, the Son of God.