On Negativity…

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Have you ever had a day when it seems like nothing you do goes well? I mean, everything you touch breaks, everything you say is taken in the wrong way, everything you do backfires, and you wonder why you bothered to even get out of bed in the morning? You are having one of those classic, melt down, terrible, horrible, no-good days. And by the time you get to the end of the day, you realize that if you had just stayed in bed that morning…because you know…sleeping all day would have prevented all the wrong that happened throughout the entire day. I really don’t like days like that. But sometimes, I have them. Days where nothing goes right, and I can’t help but wonder why? Those are the times that I cry out: Why me God? Sort of like the Israelites.

And of course, just like the Israelites of the ancient near east, I blame God. Why are you doing this to me? Why are you letting all these bad things happen? Or why is everything breaking? This was especially true this year as it seemed like almost every appliance we owned had to be replaced. And just a quick aside here, but whoever is designing the interiors of dishwashers needs to go back to design school, or at least go and do a load or two of dishes. They clean well but the interiors are awful! (Rant over)

So, like most of us when everything is going wrong, I can get a really good pity party going…if I allow it. And there in lies the key. “If I Allow It.” I have learned over the years how to recognize when I am feeling sorry for myself. When I do, I stop the negativity and move on. Because the other thing I have learned over the years is how pointless negativity actually is. It does nothing good for anyone. In fact, negativity only begins a downward spiral that if we don’t stop, it will continue to drag us downward to the point we may not be able to stop it and then we are in real trouble. Because the problem with negativity is it is like a cancer. It is malignant. It grows. It spreads. It is vile. And  it kills. It kills our spirits. It kills our creativity. It kills what is beautiful…But I think you get the picture and why it is so important to stop it.

The other problem with negativity is that it doesn’t just stay inside us, but when we are negative, we spread that negativity to others who catch it and then spread it on to more people. It is a toxic contagion. And the only antidote isn’t having a Pollyanna like positivity. Being positive isn’t the cure for a negative spirit. Love however is.

Love is one of the hardest things we do. It is easy to love people who are nice and kind. It is easy to love people who are good or whose company we enjoy. It is a lot harder to love people who are difficult. People who are negative or mean-spirited. People who we don’t really like or who grate on our nerves. But Jesus called us to love ALL people wherever we found them and what ever they were like. Love gets hard when God asks us to love the people we don’t want to be around for whatever reason. Love gets really hard when we are asked to love people who are mean, negative, unkind, difficult, and of course you can add all the other attributes that make loving someone hard.

We live in a consumer culture that says: you don’t like something then exchange it for something you do like. And we do this with people. But people, all people, even the hard ones to love, have feelings. We shouldn’t throw them away and yet our society does this all the time as we choose to glorify youth over old age, the rich over the poor, the strong over the weak, the beautiful over the not so beautiful, the perfect over the imperfect…But Jesus loved us all. Jesus asks us to follow his example. Jesus asks us to love everyone just as he loved us. Which brings me back to being negative because being negative even if it is negative self-talk, is not loving anyone including ourselves. Here’s the thing about negativity: negative self-talk, leads to negative words, which leads to negative actions. See how negativity grows? The easy place to stop our negativity is our own negative self-talk. As people of faith God calls us to love God and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Negativity doesn’t love anyone.

Let us not become weary of doing good…or speaking and thinking good.

May your day be filled with love and kindness for all people, including yourself.

Peace,

Pastor Beth

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