Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Moving From Negativity Into Thankfulness & Joy

(I decided to remove the original post I made on insecurity & envy that this post refers to.  As I mention in this post I was pretty deeply embarrassed that I shared some of the negative thoughts & assumptions that I had made.  I am worried that some of the things I said in that post, made out of my owns feelings of inadequacy may have actually been hurtful to others.  In retrospect it was probably never a post I should have share publicly and I should have dealt with some of the complicated emotions privately - working through them with God's help.)

I'm not sure how to begin this post or how exactly to say everything that I feel I need to say.  But, after my last post God's really been challenging me & bringing to light issues in my spirit that I need to deal with.  He's done this through His word & time spent with Him, and through the words of others.

I have a tendency toward negativity.  There are two major contributors that I see to this tendency.  The first is learned behavior.  There's a bit of a generational thing that seems to have been passed down through the women in my family.  It certainly isn't an intentional thing...but it's there, this tendency to see the darkness more easily than seeing the light.

The second stems from the fact that I'm extremely introspective and I feel things deeply.  Often this introspection can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed by all the BIG emotions pressing in on me.  The state of world, all it's problems, the struggles of others.  It can sometimes seem like the enemy is winning on every side.  And, that's a pretty big recipe for the negative.

All this to say, that when I start experiencing negative emotions or thoughts, it can be very easy to forget the greatest ways to combat negativity - thankfulness & joy.

I'd say that was pretty evident in my last post.  I had gotten so wrapped up in my own insecurity & envy that I allowed thankfulness & joy to be stolen away.  In fact, I practically gave them away.

Frankly, I'm pretty embarrassed by my last post.  While it accurately described how I was feeling at the time, I'm not sure that it was something I needed to put 'out there'.  And, even though the people who I had expressed so much envy over probably didn't read my post, I still feel as though I owe them an apology.

And, that's rather awkward isn't it?  "Hey.  I'm not sure if you somehow came across something I posted on the internet or not, but I want to apologize for allowing assumptions, fears, insecurities, and envy to control my emotions and possibly to have hurt you."  I'm still praying about whether or not to have that conversation.
You see, I did get to spend time with them this past weekend, and here's the thing.....They are really fun, genuine, warm, welcoming, Spirit filled, great people.  And, I almost missed that.

How many things do we miss in life when we allow negativity to rule our worldview?

I am reminded that thankfulness & joy is supposed to be a way of life for us as Christians.

I Timothy 4:4 & 5  "For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer."
I Thessalonians 5:16-18  "Be joyful always: pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
Hebrews 12:28, 29 "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverance and awe for our 'God is a consuming fire' "
Philippians 4:4-7  "Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts & your minds in Christ Jesus."
Psalm 95:  1, 2  "Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song."
Thankfulness & Joy go hand in hand.  It's next to impossible to be thankful and not feel joy.

Here's what I was reminded of these past couple weeks....something the enemy would love for me to forget.  I am insanely, lavishly, incredibly blessed.  God has given me very good things indeed.

-I have an amazing husband who loves me in spite of my failings.
- I have four beautiful, crazy, funny, talented, smart, wonderful boys.
 - Our family has health
 - We are surrounded by family and friends who love us and support us.
 - We have an incredible church where we are continually challenged to grow deeper in our relationship and understanding of God.
 - We have a home that not only has all the essentials we take for granted (electricity, running water, a solid foundation) but is filled with memories and love.
 - I have a pretty amazing view in my backyard.  God's unspoiled & beautiful creation stretches out before us.
 - We have always been able to meet our financial obligations.  Even when things are tight, there has always been a way.
 - In addition to paying our bills, there has been extra that we've been able to spend on vacations, family outings, and hobbies.  And, there's been the ability to give & share when needs arise.
- We love our school district and feel confident that they have our children's best interests at heart.
- We live in a country of freedom!
 - We have transportation.
 - We have plenty to eat.

I could go on and on.  And, I should!  You should!  We all should!  While 'count your blessings' may sound cliche, it's so good for the heart and the soul.

A while back I read "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are" by Ann Voskamp.  In it she delves into this idea of living a life of thankfulness.  She repeatedly uses the Greek word Eucharisteo which means thanksgiving.  She talks about three words that work together, go together -
Charis - Grace
Eucharisteo - Thanksgiving
Chara - Joy

I want to read the book again.  She has a beautiful way with words.  They penetrate deeply into the soul.  Because they echo the Truth.  They reflect God's words.

And, Thanksgiving & Joy are things worth fighting for.  Trust me.  It is a fight.  It's so much easier to give in to the negative, to the darkness.  But, declare today, that I will fight for Thanksgiving, Joy, and Truth in my life with the goal of being able to share those with others.

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