Nick and I started a new Sunday School series yesterday about discovering the purpose of our life's story. While Pastor Gene was talking, I reflected about my life and realized that there are still seasons of my life, decades old (that is a scary phrase to say 'decades old'), that are still causing me significant grief and pain. It is so easy to allow negatives to distract and takeover our lives instead of seeking the significance and the blessings that come through these momentary sufferings. In our culture especially where we are constantly stimulated by images of faux perfection, it can become all to easy to sink back into ourselves and wallow in what we perceive to be our shortcomings. To ease the pain we justify our misery and why we aren't moving forward by pulling out our long list of 'can'ts'. Maybe some of these are familiar:
" I can't keep my house clean because I have small children."
" I just can't get up early."
" I would love to work from home, but I just can't... kids."
" I could never run a half marathon/ participate in that sport."
" I can't compete with the others."
" I can't do that because I didn't go to school for it."
This list is pretty general, but I know that you can relate to at least one. Even if you yourself haven't said any of these, someone you know has. All of these have been said to me by friends. The things that you aren't doing right or the things that haven't gone your way can so easily consume you and hinder any progress forward. All of your can'ts are holding you back.
Let me share with you something that I have experienced over and over again: Negativity draws other negative people and experiences to you and is about as dependable as gravity. If you think or feel negative and you speak negatively, you will draw others to you who are doing the same thing. It will be impossible to ever achieve anything if you are held down by your own negativity.
God is not a god of 'can'ts'. He is a god of the impossible, of underdog victories and of big 'can dos'. He has quite a habit of taking the small, the weak and the unqualified and using them to turn the world upside down. See David and Goliath. Paul even writes about this in 1 Corinthians 1:27 "But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong." When you are at your weakest, when all hope seems lost and the doom of failure is about the only option you have left, that is precisely when God shines. His strength overcomes and fills in where your weakness has left a void.
So, set your minds on things above:
When you're exhausted
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." - Matthew 11:28
When you've made a mistake
"There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." - Romans 8:1
When you're overwhelmed by grief
" He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." - Revelation 21:4
When you can't face the person in the mirror
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." -Romans 12:2
When you're stressed
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - John 14:27
When someone close hurts/disappoints you
"Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the LORD has forgiven you, so you must also forgive." Colossians 3:1
When you've missed a goal
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9
Not sure how to shift your attitude from negative to heavenward? Pray. All the time. When those feelings creep up, snuff them out with prayer. God wants our eyes on him, and from experience, he will always answer your calls for help when your desire is closeness with him.