So I realized I never reported back about the talk I gave at church a couple of weeks ago. You know, the one where I was supposed to talk about how having a positive attitude can help during times of adversity? Many of you left comments which were really, really fabulous. I appreciated your insight, as well as your opinions as to whether or not I should share my blog, since for me blogging has always been a way to make myself focus on the entertaining, if not positive, aspects of life even when life isn’t all sunshine and roses.
For the record? Life is never all sunshine and roses for anyone. Life is hard. It is supposed to be that way (which isn’t to say some people don’t make it harder than they need to – actually, we all do that at times, but I know some people who just have a special talent, know what I’m saying?).
Anyway, my talk. I didn’t mention blogging as a coping strategy even once, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone asking me about my blog. Whew. I’ve already shared this blog with too many IRL people (and if you’re an IRL person going, “Me? Is she talking about me?” then no, I’m not talking about you; but if you’re an IRL person going, “That witch is talking about us!” then yes, I’m talking about you).
I did, however, go back to our old friend Job (surprise) and something struck me that I’d never really picked up on before (scriptures are great that way).
How many times have we, as Christians, compared ourselves to Job and thought, “I shouldn’t be whining. I shouldn’t be complaining. It could be worse. Look at Job. God is just trying to teach me patience and long-suffering, and I’m failing miserably. I just need to suck it up,”? Okay, maybe you’ve never thought that, but I have. I believe the technical term for that way of thinking is neurotic. Which honestly isn’t to say we shouldn’t be examining our reactions to our circumstances and see if we couldn’t be handling things better; however, I think when we do that to the point of beating ourselves up (a life-long problem of mine), we miss a BIG message in the book of Job.
From Job, chapter 1 (King James Version):
13 ¶ And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:
14 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
15 And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
16 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
17 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The aChaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
18 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy asons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:
19 And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
20 Then Job arose, and arent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
22 In all this Job asinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
Job felt the pain. Job acknowledged the pain. “In all this Job sinned not . . .” Whether we look at the Book of Job as a literal historical account, or one with which many literary liberties have been taken, I think this is a valuable message.
Having a positive attitude during times adversity does not mean we must tra-la-la around pretending like nothing is wrong and telling ourselves we shouldn’t feel unhappy, or scared, or lonely, or whatever just because it could be worse. It is okay to feel the pain. It is okay to acknowledge the pain. But moderation in all things, you know? Feel it, acknowledge it, and then make a plan to move on and strive to do it. That, I think, is having a realistic positive attitude.
After he rent his mantle and shaved his head, both signs of mourning, Job fell down and worshipped. He kept an eternal perspective, kept his eye on the bigger picture. Obviously there is much more to the story of Job after this first part, but this is what really struck me this time around: it is okay to acknowledge that things suck when they, in fact, do.
So how does having a positive attitude like this help us during times of adversity? Basically, it helps us work through the difficult times (as opposed to living in denial about them) without getting so bogged down in the difficulties themselves that we become perpetually stuck in our own misery.
I had other quotes and things that I used to support these ideas, but this was the basic premise of my talk.
Which, you know, was really great right after the congregational rest hymn. I mean, we all sing about scattering sunshine everywhere we go, and then I get up and tell everybody life is hard and it’s okay to acknowledge that. So I kind of felt like a “neener-neener in-your-face sunshine-scatterers” heretic by the time I was finished, but my word! People came up and hugged me afterward and thanked me. So I guess I’m not the only one who sometimes wants to clothesline people who skip around scattering sunshine. Good to know.
Of course, the people I really want to clothesline are the ones who just. must. make. EVERYTHING! a more gigantic horrible mess than it already is. Annoying, to say the least.
On a totally unrelated note: my little squirt who refuses to say more than one or two words a day is becoming quite adept at grabbing letter magnets off the fridge and telling me (correctly) what sounds they make. He seems to know most of them.
On another totally unrelated note: my truckload of garden topsoil was just delivered, as was my beekeeping equipment. Now I just have to see if I can still order bees. It’s a little late in the season, but I didn’t want to order them earlier when I didn’t have any hives in which to put them.
And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt says hello.