Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Choose Gratitude

All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he that is of a merry heart has a continual feast. (Proverbs 15:15)

I read this verse for maybe the thousandth time yesterday. I read the margin for the first time yesterday. 

Afflicted could be better translated from Hebrew as miserable or depressed. Merry could be translated good or cheerful.

Nut-shelled, this verse means that a miserable person always finds something to be miserable and complaining about. A cheerful person always sees the positive in a situation. Even in famine, they enjoy a feast.

And we all know people in both groups. The always complaining people. The always silver lining people. And we all know who we'd rather be around. (if you are unsure, I give you a hint. It's not the complainer.)

It boils down to perspective. Pessimistic or optimistic. Grateful or complaining. Hope endlessly springs anew or not.

And it often boils down to choice. 

I tend to lean a bit more towards miserable (and it looks miserable just typing that). I'd like to tell myself that I am a realist. I see things pretty black and white. Which can be a good thing-for business. Not such a great thing when it comes to people.

I tend to get a bit complain-y (read, a lot complain-y) about people. People who are stuck in their ways. Who refuse to change. Who aren't like wonderful old me. (snort) People who are not loyal or just. People who are partial with impunity.

I get bogged down in the negative. I struggle to forgive. I despair of change.

And then I read a verse like this one, and I remember some things I've forgotten.

#1-I am responsible for my actions and my attitudes. I am accountable to God for my actions and attitudes. I can chose attitudes of joy, forgiveness, hope and gratitude. I am not responsible for other's attitudes and actions.

#2-God is bigger than me and annoying people and circumstances in my life. Yeah, I forget that on a regular basis. When I start to get really negative, I hear the Holy Spirit whispering in my ear, "have you prayed about that? Really prayed about that?" 

Sometimes God changes circumstances and people because we pray. Almost always God changes me when I pray. Because when I pray it is a letting go of my attitude. My need to be in control. My need for vindication or justification. It involves opening my hands and heart for God to work. In me. 

It's all in the perspective. 

When I allow my heart to be changed by God from miserable to cheerful, I can see the good in people and circumstances. I can praise God in the good things and the bad. I can be filled with hope that this is not the end of the story.

So, today, my feast includes....

my family, my friends, my church family, freedom to worship in public, new and old hymns, opportunities to serve God, experiences and wisdom of others that they generously share with me, coffee, M&M's, I Love Lucy re-runs, good books, my blog, She Plans Dinner, big trees to sit under in my yard, cool summer days and nights, my bike (and my bike repair people)...

I saw these on Pinterest. They are thankful list pumpkins. I am going to do these this fall!
Would others consider you a miserable person or a cheerful person? How do you need to change your perspective?