The boldness of others has caused some of my greatest personal growth. I was blessed to live in a community last year where the opportunity for feedback was frequent. I had many friends who would confront me in love.
One growth moment in particular came on a day when I was stuck in a negative mindset. My living situation was not comfortable, and I let it affect every aspect of my life. Like any other day in the Philippines, I was laying in my hammock and sweating profusely. Except, as the bugs continuously plagued my skin, I was also haunted by some words a caring friend said earlier that day: “I can tell that you aren’t choosing joy.” This friend knows that I am a recovering pessimist, who actively claws my way into optimism every single day. She also knows that choosing joy was something the Lord had been teaching me.
With those words my friend was calling me to be the woman that Christ desires me to be. She wasn’t judging me, she just knows who I am and a person who speaks negatively didn’t fit. Giving me grace, she told me that we can’t get it right every day, but wanted to let me know that she was praying for me. Her love was a slap in the face. My negative mood was that obvious.
I knew she was right. It wasn’t me. Yet, I was tired and didn’t feel well. Multiple days had been extremely difficult. I had absolutely no passion for yet another drama. But did that give me the right to bring everyone down around me? To be so selfish as to wade in my own self pity? To make snide comments?
Sometimes the best thing you can do when you can’t win the battle against your mind, is to just shut up. Even if you can’t turn the negative soap box off in your head, why play it on a megaphone?
Being a natural pessimist, I understand that there are days when the doom and gloom in your mind won’t leave you alone. Days when all you feel like doing are putting on all black, and mourning the existence of the joy you once knew. Days when the sun doesn’t shine, and when Eeyore is the only one who can relate to you. This day was that day. But I tell you what, it was much better after I shut myself up.
After my friend gave me her feedback, it took everything within me to shut up the rest of the day. The negative comments still played through my mind, and at times it felt like there was no escaping it. However, once I stopped voicing my suffering, I slowly became less negative. I realized that misery loves company. It loves it so much that once the negativity finds even a spark of itself in someone else, it will keep digging.
When we focus on the negative things, they get our attention. Your negative mood also affects those around you. A perfectly happy and innocent individual could leave your presence thinking about just how utterly miserable they are, but do you want to be that person? Do you want people to leave your presence feeling depressed, angry, and anxious? Or rather, do you want people to leave your presence feeling a sense of joy, relief, and lightness?
Again, I understand everyone has bad days. This day was one of those days for me, but I learned that we can always choose to be quiet and still our minds. Choose to orient yourself around the Lord. Pray if you have the need to vent.
2 Corinthians 10:5 “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
You have the power to control your mind, even more so, He does. Don’t let the negativity in your mind escape out of your lips. Remember the weight of every word that hangs on your tongue.
Proverbs 18:21 “The power of the tongue is life and death – those who love to talk will eat what it produces.”
I encourage you not to be someone who creates death for yourself when you do have a bad day. Speak life into the situation so that the negativity dissipates. As Christians we are called to live a life set apart from the rest. Not everyone will choose to be joyful in the midst of suffering. Anyone can complain when things go wrong, but not everyone will bite their tongue.
I’m not asking you to pretend. I want you to feel. I want you to be completely real with yourself, and open and honest with others. Especially about your feelings and your emotional health. Just remember, there is a difference between being real and being really annoying. Feel free to talk about your feelings, sort them out, work through them – but don’t whine, complain and blame others. There is a point when you are just sulking in misery instead of being proactive.
I encourage you to be different. Dare to stand out. Be known for recognizing the difficult situations in life yet still relentlessly relying on God.