Shun the Negative
The other day at work I had a stressful day. I’m a teacher and the students were loud, semi-disrespectful, and acting wild. It was a Friday, so we were all ready for a few days off. I texted my wife and told her that I was feeling down and ready to lose it. I had begun to sink into a pit of negativity.
I’d already begun writing a thankful list, something Lily Crowder recommends doing in her book “Grace for the Contemplative Parent.” My wife texted back and said that she was sorry I was having a rough day. Then she wrote, “Keep a thankful list.”
It wasn’t long after that I read a quote by Graham Cooke, “God has invited us all into a life that excludes negatives; negative emotions, negative thoughts, negative words, negative actions. We are invited into a way of life that demands a change of mindset in terms of how we see ourselves, how we see people, and how we see circumstances (Overcoming Negativity Through Rest).”
I was immediately inspired. This life with Jesus is so great that negativity and stress doesn’t have to get us down. That isn’t to say that I’m smiling when my kids are screaming at one another or that I’m giddy while my students are being rude and challenging. It just means that I’m not so focused on my circumstances that I lose sight of who I am in Christ.
The Song Lifestyle in Practice
Saturday was less than inspirational. Instead of a fun relaxing family day, we dealt with fighting and whining children most of the day. We’d let our children have sleepovers the night before, and although they’d gone to bed at reasonable hours, they were tired and emotionally drained.
The squabbling seemed to never stop. Like herding cats, the work was never finished. My wife and I tag teamed putting out the little fires. At times I’d lose sight of the Lord and who I am in Him (SoS 1:8), and my wife would catch me. At other times, my wife would lose focus, and I’d be there to hold her up.
At church that night, things grew worse. Our five year old son was exhausted and would eat although he was hungry. He put himself on the ground and laid face down crying. He wasn’t hysterical; he was just being a tired five year old boy. One of our twins was having a rough night, too. He was crying and whining, and all my wife and I wanted to do was step into His presence and soak in the gloooray.
Our friend Beth came up to me to encourage me and reminded me of a story Bill Johnson told about his daughter-in-law. She had come into church frazzled and angry that the kids were being crazy in the car on the way to church. “Now I have to put my worship hat on,” she said. Bill responded, “Why did you ever take it off?”
At church that evening I, too, was tired from parenting all day. I was desperate to get my kids to act the right way, and I wanted to quit. Once Beth reminded me of that story about not removing my worship hat, things got a little better. We still ended up leaving early out of consideration for others and kindness toward our tired children. However, we kept our worship hats on! The Song Lifestyle is never stepping out of worship no matter the circumstances.
My wife and I did pretty well. We constantly redirected our minds to focus on Him during our tough weekend. It takes some practice to transform your mind. It takes practice to choose the positive over the negative. Don’t confuse this word practice with the word work. The work was done on the cross. Jesus paid the price and did all the hard labor for us. It is up to us to put into practice the Song Lifestyle. The only reason we are able to put the Song Lifestyle into practice is because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. He took all of our sin and all of our shame and crucified it. Then God the Father raised us up from the dead with Jesus…we are co-crucified and co-resurrected. We’ve been given the grace to follow Him and live this Song Lifestyle.
Ways to Shun the Negative
- Write down a thankful list
- Always find a reason to praise God (Oh, no! The car broke down. Thank God I have a car!)
- For dealing with challenging people, find 10 positive things you like about them and thank God for those things.
- Practice eliminating I don’t care, It doesn’t matter, I don’t like, I hate, and other phrases from your vocabulary.
- Pick a scripture and meditate on it all the time. Write it on an index card and put it in a place where you will see it a lot. Psalm 27:4 is a good place to start.
Doing these things will empower your life and you will reap the benefits of the Song Lifestyle — you will begin to shine like the sun arrayed in all its glory because you are reflecting Mr. HappyMan.
Remember: it’s not work. Jesus did the work. All you are doing is tapping into your rightful place next to Him and living a life of worship–the Song Lifestyle.