I'm really trying hard not to be negative. I gave up negativity for Lent, and not just because it sounded easier than giving up sweets (for me, both would likely do me in). I set this goal, not expecting to really achieve it (see how my negativity seeps in?), but because I wanted to create a habit of recognizing it. When I recognize it, my aim is to instead think (or write) thoughts of gratitude.
Unless you're pretty close to me, you may not realize what a pessimistic and critical person I can be. I try to keep it internal, or just share it with my accepting family (thanks to John, Brady, and Maryn for loving me in spite of it!) Much of it stems from my perfectionism and my failure to reach the impossible standards I set for myself. I know what it's about, yet I often feel powerless to change my thoughts and feelings.
A couple of days ago, in the middle of a bad couple of weeks, John called to tell me unexpected good news: we were getting a small tax refund instead of having to pay. This followed news from our loan refinance people that instead of having to pay over $1000 in closing costs, they were going to pay us $100 at closing. Most people would be overjoyed. Me? I just wondered what emergency would crop up and take that money. The question was answered today in water leaks--a new roof! John's next phone call, just a few minutes later, was to report the beginning of round #4 of the stomach virus among our kids in less than two weeks. I hate to admit that my thoughts vacillated between despair and a satisfied "I knew something would go wrong!"
Obviously, something has to change. Over the past few months, even through some pretty dismal circumstances, God has been revealing glimpses of hope to me. I have seen so many people acting out of kindness and love. I keep feeling that things are on the verge of becoming better in a lot of ways. I know how incredibly blessed I am and want to express my thanks by focusing on the many beautiful things instead of the few ugly ones. I need new vision, but it seems impossible at times. I struggle minute by minute to shift my attitude, my thoughts, my expectations. Within an hour of posting my Lenten resolution on Facebook, I was "busted" for making a not-so-positive post. Failure is inevitable, but even failure is teaching me to stop, think, confess, and trust in God and not myself. That's a big part of what Lent is all about. I read this post by Ann Voskamp at just the right moment...another way God is opening my eyes to God's ongoing work in my life and the world around me. Maybe I'm starting to have better vision after all!