Being a pessimist and a Christian is a seemingly odd combination, but I exist, and I know I’m not alone; I know that there are so many of us out there, bombarded by the hidden assumption that Christians are automatically positive. It’s not true. I want to be positive, but it’s not natural for me; being positive is a very conscious, intentional choice, I really have to work at it. Do you feel the same way? Well, here’s some good news: joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Not happiness; JOY.
Happiness is circumstantial. I know you hear this all the time, but joy really does transcend circumstances. I think some of my greatest moments of joy have been in brokenness, because I knew that Jesus was there with me. His joy is our strength, and maybe the reverse is true, too– His strength is our joy.
I CAN be positive, just not alone! I need Him to show me what I’m not seeing. That’s why I’ve committed to a project this month: Four Positive Things. This isn’t simply my Thanksgiving project for 2013, but a timely exercise for me to focus on the joys in my life instead of seeking happiness. This month I am using my camera to help me zero in on the positive elements of each day, putting the spotlight on four of them. At the end of each week I’ll post the photos and any stories that go with them. What gifts am I being given every day that I choose to ignore? I refuse to ignore them anymore!
Here’s an example of one I did back in July before this project ever crossed my mind:–Work clothes, Free Slurpee Day, youth group in the park, and a Philip Philips song that helped me smile on the way home from a hard day at work.
When I made this, work was a struggle and I was really not happy about growing up and all that comes with it. But somehow I was able to find these positive things in the midst. My job was a test of my physical and emotional strength every day (I wrote a little about it here), but I think I included work clothes because I knew I was EARNING my paycheck; I was grateful for my job even though it took all I had. Free Slurpee Day at 7-11 was great because it was crazy hot that day, and even at 7 PM they still had pina colada! Youth group at the park… no explanation necessary. Anything with them is a wonderful time. And hearing “Gone Gone Gone” by Philip Philips on the radio was just the burst I needed to brighten my day; the sound is simply happy (and not in a pop way, which I appreciate) and the lyrics speak of committed love no matter what happens.
I hope when this project is over, I’ll look back on the pictures I took and see depth like I see in these now. If you want to join me, feel free to!