Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Positive Life: What Does It Really Entail?

Anything has a positive side; everything in life has a lesson to learn; nothing in life is harsh enough to knock one down. I am a generally positive person. If you run the race with me, I will usually find something positive to say, even in the bleakest of circumstances. Not only does it often provide comic relief for those not so gifted in ignoring the negative, but it really serves to put my heart in the place it belongs. Not only does the sudden shock of my statement somehow quiet their rambling fears and negativity, but it reminds me of Who I love. Not only does the glass half-full imply that it will be filled up even more in the future, but it opens my eyes to see how much others are missing by thinking their glass needs to be filled more. Not only does it allow me to move forward, but it pulls me back in order to help those who stall in moving forward.

This is where dog number one loves electric fences. The squirrel on the other side of that fence is worth it all, simply because the simple pain will only become laugher in the future. The horror of the moment always denotes a positive and a joy in the end. Dog number two simply looks on the world; that electric fence is so painful and not worth its time. It puts a fear in it that no positive object, not even a squirrel, can entice it to bound beyond that half empty line in its water glass. How dangerous and trapping such a perspective serves to us humans.

Often times, we do not take the differences between a positive outlook and a negative outlook far enough. Positive outlooks have a seemingly uncharacteristic ability to shove people forward, to eliminate the fear, and to allow for the development and honing of one's character. Negativity, on the other hand, seems to be an invisible rope in people's lives; they cannot go beyond it, and they do not dare try.

Did you know that a negative person lives, on average, a shorter life span than those that are positive? Did you know that a negative person, on average, remembers less memories than those that are positive? Did you know that a negative person's heart, on average, endures more pressure and irregularity than those that are positive? Did you know that a negative person affects those around them and decreases their peers' life spans? Given such facts, does it not seem that we are biologically wired to be positive people?

Granted, I am not talking about an outlook so positive that we fail to recognize dangers and to weigh the wisdom of our decisions. But, I think that negativity often clouds our judgement and prevents us from becoming all that God has called us to be. It incites worrisomeness, destroys our focus, hazes our perception of God's goodness, strains our relationships with others, pushes us to become unhealthy, and overall, represents an open door to dangers untold. The devil relies on negativity. If you were never negative about any event, how could the devil bring you into depression? How could the devil entice you to lie if you always viewed every situation with a positive outcome? It is not true that our flesh by nature may just be negative?

Even the Bible seems to steer us in the direction of being positive about anything in our lives. Proverbs contains numerous verses warning wives not to be naggers. The New Testament is full of the apostles enduring suffering and yet always being so glad to endure it. Even the wording of the Scripture itself always looks to the positive side of obeying and following His commandments. Our lives, when lived according to the Bible, are always planned out and all is endured for our good and His glory! Is that not a positive truth within itself?

Thus, when I come across situations where I feel pulled in a direction to look at the ugly side of it all, I often sit there and go, "You know, Lord, this is the closest I will ever get to Hell. And if Hell is horrible, and Heaven is amazing, cannot even a part of this be amazing as well? Please help me to see the amazing side."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Obsession. . . with the dreams

Always chasing; always running. That boundary line in my life, the electric fence, only feeds my addiction to newer and bigger dreams. The fast paced and massive goals and achievements cloud my mind in a hazy mist. I am flying high up in the clouds; do not attempt to ground me, for you will only be met with failure in that arena. The clouds accomplish their designated task, obscuring the view of the particles of sand, branches of trees, and the colored pigments of the flowers below me.

In fact, the details of life down there as a whole escape my otherwise critical eye. Oh, do not get me wrong here; I know that all those particles exist and thrive within my world, but I do not concern myself with them, not with all the other amazing opportunities I can be chasing. All in all, I am obsessed with the world outside of that altogether confining electric fence. I am way too occupied with my interest in the broad, expansive, and limitless world and tend to ignore that same stretch of grass and patio, which represents satisfaction and safety to some. Let me run; let me chase my squirrels. Shock me with that jolt of electricity all you want; I do not care; I am done with details.

How often do we act that same exact way in our own individual lives? Dog number one remains so focused on his squirrels, his "big dreams." Unlike dog number two, dog number one purposely ignores the details of his all too familiar surroundings and experiences boredom with the monotonous sight that fills his eyes every day. I do the same in my own life on a daily basis. I like to think futuristic; I like to think about what I
can be doing, what can be accomplished, or what long term goals and projects I can direct my full attention to. While be a visionary certainly has its positive attributes, cracks and crevices began to form and mar my life under the surface, undermining whatever big tasks I accomplish in both minor and major ways.

As much as I love the Lord and want to pursue Him, my heart risks becoming used to certain weeds and splitters that poke at its surface, representing the details I have deemed worthy of being put off and dealt with later, ignored. Jesus calls us to prepare for His return every day of our lives (Matthew 24:36-44). Absolutely true: this preparation includes future planning and telling every one we can about His holiness and saving grace (Mark 16:15); yet, He further calls us to be diligent and persistent in making no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14). He provokes us to participate in introspection with Him, inviting us to focus on the details, on the small, seemingly insignificant, and hidden aspects of our lives and hearts.

Often times, I find details to be so overwhelming, time consuming, frustrating, and so not worth the focus, time and effort that I would be required to put forth in order to accomplish something with them. I would rather take a giant leap into a dark, deep abyss and learn my lessons as I free-fall into the unknown. I desire immense, goal focused days, weeks, and months. But, unknown to me throughout this entire experience, I am suffering and hurting; I am enlarging and magnifying the cracks and crevices. The "details" in my life pile up, joining together and creating a weakness or addiction that threatens to tear me apart and crack the entirety of a work of art. I am missing a vital part of God's voice. I pursue what I believe He wanted in the beginning, but I also neglect my quiet moments and the small items that need to be dealt with all along the way. Am I following the Lord? Most likely, in some way, shape, or form. Do I
know Him? Probably not as well as I should.

My obsession with thrill and accomplished dreams just might break me and shatter the pieces of my life in the future, if I chose to ignore it. Why? Because I never take the time to wait and listen, to let God's hands shape and fill in some of those cracks and address the weeds. He is always pointing them out, but I must lay aside the busyness found in chasing my dreams. I need to care about the effects of the bugs on the grass and the sun on the deck wood.

Granted, life is not all about details; I realize that very much. We are called to strike a balance between the two. We are called to dedicate our lives not only to pursuing Him in the intricate and delicate parts of our lives; we are furthermore called to run forward. Hence, this balance is not so much dedicating one's life's focus to the pursuance of one extreme, but rather, we are striving to be able to be a visionary at the same time we are living introspectively. I definitely do not have this balance figured out entirely; perhaps the discovery of this particular inclination to sway to one extreme is a practice of the opposite extreme in and of itself. Either way, I doubt not that my life will stray into dangerous territory should I ever forget this principle. Therefore, there is just one question that I must ask each and every day. . .

Will I choose to listen to Him, in the stillness and in the adventure?