Friday, July 22, 2011

Positivity--Nature or Nurture?

A life-long friend recently remarked, “Are you ever not positive?” This came right after I told her she was beautiful and right before she asked why I hadn’t been a cheerleader back in the day. LOL. But her question made me think. Most of the time, I’m a glass half full kind of person. I’d rather focus on the good in a person or situation than dwell on the negative. There are plenty of people out there waiting to knock you down. I don’t intend to be one of them.
Certainly, the ability to be positive is part of a person’s basic personality. However, positivity is also a choice that becomes habit like any other habit. Look around. Are the negative people’s life experiences really so different than the positive?
Don’t confuse positivity with being happy and upbeat. There’s a difference. At times, I want to curse the world and walk away just like everyone else. But I make the choice not to, and the more I choose this path, the more positivity is who I am and not just a habit I’m practicing.
My family is just as dysfunctional as the next, but I’m fortunate to have parents who have a never-say-die attitude. My father, in particular, is a positive, encouraging person. Some of that is his Christianity and a life spent delving into scripture and seeking God’s direction. He instilled in me long ago that life is easier on the heart and soul when you look at it through positive lenses (not to be confused with rose-colored glasses J).
Papa grew up in a family of 15 children, three of whom were half-siblings. He didn’t learn to read until he was 14 years old and in the sixth grade. By the eighth grade, he had dropped out of school. Soon after, he lied about his age and joined the Army. He also has a speech impediment. One time, out of frustration and ignorance, his mother told him not to speak to her anymore until he learned to talk right. He forgave her long ago for that, just as he did his abusive father. After all, having raised seven children and four grandchildren himself, Papa sympathizes with his parents’ frustrations. He doesn’t excuse their actions, but he has forgiven them. This was a conscious choice on his part—and one that liberated him.
Papa gave his children the best of what he had and most of that grew from his positive nature. Regardless of his speech and lack of formal education, he built a profitable landscaping company that is well respected in Gainesville, FL. He won an award a few years ago from the city of Gainesville for a yard he designed and landscaped at one of the University of Florida sorority houses. But it took years to carve this niche for himself in the industry.
Mostly, Papa’s life has been hard. He grew up during the depression, experienced eviction from homes, and went hungry. This did not create an environment of positive nurturing. I believe he learned that at our Savior’s knee, during hours spent in fellowship with Him.
So, to answer the question—I try to always be positive. However, I never discount someone else’s bad situation or bad mood. We all have them. Though my life is about encouraging others, catch me on a bad day and, if you listen closely, you might hear some grumbling. After all, I’m not that other “P” word. J
If you’re having a bad day and want someone to unload on, feel free to e-mail me. My email address is located under view profile on the left.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dirt, No Problem

Housecleaning is not one of my strong suits. I do it because I have to, which is probably what most would say. I have no problem walking around outside, so when a little of the outside winds up on my floor, it doesn’t bother me. My motto is—if you don’t like dirt on the bottom of your feet, wear shoes. My other motto is—if you don’t call before you come over, don’t expect a clean house. I do have a life, you know.
You will not catch me sweeping and mopping my garage like my younger sister does, and you won’t find her stepping over dirt like I do. Basic things in my house have to be clean—the kitchen and bathrooms. My dishes and laundry are usually done, though a laundry basket of clean clothes always resides on my closet floor, and I run my dishwasher every other day.
Remember the book a few years back, Life’s Too Short to Fold Your Underwear? Wish I’d thought of writing it. Perhaps my husband and son could write one entitled Life’s Too Short to Put Your Clothes in the Hamper: Why I drop my dirty clothes on the floor beside the hamper.
But I digress.
I guess I hate to clean because it’s a needless waste of time that will be repeated in a few days, weeks, or whenever. I could spend that time doing something else—anything else. Jesus once said he was going to his Father who would prepare a place for us, a mansion. Wonder if there’ll be maid service provided?  
Just a thought.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Platitude or Attitude?

Many of you have heard me say that God gave me a spiritual gift of encouragement (Romans 12:8). What exactly does this mean?
I always hesitate to share this part of my life—what I consider my ministry to be, because often I think doing so could be taken the wrong way—but here goes.
It’s easy enough to tell someone we’ll pray for them or offer a positive cliché when we hear bad news. Sometimes this is just the awkwardness or shock at the moment we receive the news...Life’s not fair…God doesn’t give us more than we can handle…God will hold you in his loving arms…You’re tough—you’ll make it through. And all that jazz.
It’s normal to want to be positive in the face of hardship. But long ago, God placed on my heart and gave me the instinct to acknowledge the hardship first. I’m sorry you have cancer or another potentially fatal disease, or your child was born with a deformity, or your husband has been unemployed for two years and your house has been foreclosed, or your child is going to prison (actual burdens people have shared with me in the last year).
I’m not going to lie. I will acknowledge that life stinks sometimes. After all, this isn’t the Garden of Eden. I’ve learned there is positivity in this approach based on the responses I get in return. And while I’m in the trenches with those hurting, I offer them God’s Hand and a prayer, and with God’s help, try to pull them up. Some may disagree with my approach or attitude, but it works.
Mainly, I listen. From the feedback I get, it seems not many people do. If you have a problem you’d like me to pray for or listen to, please e-mail me. My contact information is listed on the right.