I am convinced that I suffer from…I mean am blessed with a new, yet to be appropriately documented disease. It is the disease of Perception. I would also offer that most people suffer from…are blessed with this disease and are unwilling to see and admit it. But instead of pointing my fingers at you I will explain how this “disease” manifests in my life and what I am actively trying to do, with God’s help, to treat this disease.
I am admittedly one of those people who, depending on the situation, naturally gravitate towards the “negative”. If something happens I can very quickly think of several things wrong, several things to be upset about and I have to think hard to come up with positives…my mind just doesn’t naturally go there.
Let me give you an example. On Friday Dominic stayed home to work on putting new linoleum in our entryway. He ran to Ace to get something to help with the job and his car dies. I mean running one minute, next minute the starter is gone. So long story short he gets it to a shop in Beresford where they quote one price, charge about $100 more and tell us that his radiator is also broken.
When Dominic calls me to tell me the good news (can you hear the sarcasm?) I instantly think “Why this, Why now, Why can’t we catch a break, How come this stuff always happens to us…” Whine, whine, whine. It makes me nauseous just typing it out. But it is where my mind goes.
After my brief tantrum conversation in my head I take a step back and try to be intentional for a moment. Try to think of some things that I can be grateful for in this situation. Well when I stop to think about it there are several things:
1) We have AAA so we got the car towed for “free”.
2) We have a second car so at least we can still get to where we need to go until his is fixed.
3) My dad has an “extra” vehicle and has offered more than once that if we ever need we can borrow it. (Dominic is driving it as we speak)
4) We had money in our savings – not much but some - and so we can pay for this fix with cash.
5) We have both have full time jobs that allow us to be able to save for things such as this.
6) The situation could have been MUCH worse.
When I am intentional with my thoughts and focus on those things that I can and should be grateful for my attitude about life drastically changes. I am able to walk this journey praising God for whatever might be in my path rather than complain about whatever doesn’t go my way.
And I am by nature a complainer. It isn’t something that I am proud of and I am working hard to eliminate that part of my character and replace it with something good. But I can’t do it alone. Thankfully I have a husband that keeps me grounded. We have this thing we do in our house where we say that we “get” to do something rather than “have” to do something.
When I look at life as a “get” to I start to recognize that I have the opportunity to be the best person that God would have me to be each day. I don’t have to do any of this. But God allows me opportunities to be of service to others, to reach out and help someone in need, to be an example of His grace and His love.
And these aren’t things that I can accomplish on my own. It is only with God’s help that I am a person that can do those things. Because it isn’t in my nature to give without expecting in return, to show kindness to an enemy or to not focus on what’s in it for me.
But I find that when I focus on others, I get outside of myself. I start to see the beauty in life through others and I am constantly reminded of all the things that I have to be grateful about. Slowly God is changing my heart. Allowing me the opportunities to work on my character defects and then He is filling the holes that the defects have left with things like love and peace and kindness and gentleness, patience and self control.
And don’t get me wrong – there is still a LOT to work on. I have said it before that my journey is about progress not perfection. I am making progress. Sometimes it is painfully slow and I can’t see the changes occurring and other times I am made aware very quickly that I have now chosen to think a new way, respond a better way. And I know that isn’t because of who I am or what I have done. But what God has done through me.
I do have a disease of perception, but it is slowly changing from something that I “suffer” from to something that I am blessed with. Thank God that He allows me the opportunity to figure that out!