Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Good Day To Be An Optimist

"Brethren I count not myself to have apprehended:
but this one thing I do,
forgetting those things which are behind,
and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:13,14

From my heart to yours...
from our family to your family....

Happy New Year!!

Aren't you thankful for new beginnings?
The sunrise of each new day.
The renewal of the inward spirit as light springs 
and night has ended.
Forgiveness for past mistakes.
A chance for a new start.
Clean slates.
Fresh mornings.

2012 is gone.
Never to be relived...
or corrected.
2013 is brand new....
full of hope and the promise of good things to come.

I approach it with renewed faith...
in the God of years past.
The God Who has been my refuge and strength...
throughout every other year I've lived.

We were doing school the other day.
It was one of those rare moments...
when you realize you are presented with a golden opportunity to teach...
not from a textbook,
but from life.

Zachary's outlook was not what you would call upbeat...
at the moment.
Among other things,
school was overwhelming him...
he was struggling to get it all done.
He had ordered something by mail...
something he really, really wanted...
and every day, he would check the mail,
only to be disappointed when it wasn't there.

The mailman hadn't passed by that day,
so he still had high hopes of finding his treasure
in the mailbox.

"Maybe this will be the day, Mama."
The guarded hope in his voice made me wish a million times
I had the power to make it happen for him.

I said,
"Zach, I sure hope so.
Please get the dictionary."

"Why, Mama?"

"I want you to look up a couple of words for me."

He got up from his desk,
went across the room, got the dictionary,
came back, and sat down.

"Zach, if you look at a glass of water,
and the water reaches the halfway point on the glass,
would you say the glass is half-full...
or half-empty?"

His answer astounded me.

"Well, if I was in the house,
and I knew I could get more water anytime I wanted it,
I would say it was half-full.
If I was on a car trip,
and I knew that I wouldn't be able to get more water,
I'd say it was half-empty."


How to answer this one?
There was, after all, logic in his line of thinking!

Careful to get back on track...
of the point I was trying to make,
I said,
"Do you know that a lot of life has to do with our attitude
and how we view the glass?"

"What do you mean, Mama?"

"Look up the word pessimist."

He found it and read the definition to me.

"Okay, now look up optimist."

Again, he found and read its definition.

"Do the see the difference, Zach?
Two people can look at the same situation,
yet, their points of view can be complete opposite.
The optimist maintains a positive attitude
and sees the glass as being half-full.
The pessimist isn't so hopeful
and automatically sees the glass half-empty....
always assumes the worst.

It's your choice.
You get to decide how you are going to look at a situation.
We can find all of the good points about school...
about life...
and focus on them.
Or we can think of all of the negatives
and allow that to direct our way of looking at things.
Do you see what I mean?"

"Yeah, Mama.
I understand."

He was frustrated...
near tears.

We delved back into school,
until the mail came.

Eagerly, he ran out to the box.
I cringed, fully aware that if what he sought wasn't there,
his spirits would sag even more
when he came back inside.

I met him at the door.
It didn't take long to spot the wide smile that
started in the corners of his mouth
and seemed to spread all across his face.

"It came, Mama!
I got it!"

"Good, Zach.
I'm glad."

"You know what, Mama?
It's a good day to be an optimist!"

We laughed and laughed.

After we settled down and regained our composure,
I thought much on his words.

Of course, it was a good day to be an optimist.
His desire had come to pass.
He got what he wanted.
Things were going his way.
Life was good.
The glass was full...to overflowing.

But, what if he would have walked to the mailbox
and his package hadn't been there?
What then?
Would it have been a good day to be a pessimist?
Just because things were going in reverse?
Is any day a good day to be negative?

I tried to explain...
to the best of my ability...
that regardless of our outward circumstances,
our inward attitude is most important.
That we can always find something to be positive about.
That it is much easier to face disappointment
if we search for the good in the situation
and maintain a positive outlook.
That we can be optimistic all the time.
That optimism and pessimism
are attitudes.
Points of view.
And we are all in control of our own.
That even if the package hadn't been in the mailbox,
he could have still looked on the bright side.

Things happen that mold our day.
Sometimes, the slightest thing can get us started on the wrong foot...
completely dictate the direction of our thought process.

It is up to us to redirect...
to clean the lens...
to change focus.

It all happens in the mind.

Things are going to happen that ruffle our peace...
that disappoint us...
that frustrate and aggravate us.
God never promised things would always be smooth.
He never said we wouldn't have problems.

It's how we view our problems that counts.
It's how we view life that is important.

It is a new year.
A new day.
A fresh start.
And though we know not what 2013 will hold for any of us,
we know who holds 2013....
every moment of it...
in His great, capable, gentle, loving hands.

What is your outlook...this first day of the new year?
Would you describe your attitude as optimistic...
full of hope...
in the God of new beginnings?
Or are you pessimistic...expecting only the worst?

I love the quote that says,
"I cannot change the direction of the wind,
but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.

It's up to you...
and me...
to direct and/or re-direct our outlook....
to adjust our individual sails.

Today, I made some choices...
some of them were harder than others...
but I made them...
To rise from the ashes...
of despair,
melancholy over what might have been.
To realize unforgiveness is an ugly,
foreboding, maximum-security prison...
a place I no longer wish to dwell.
That I hold in my heart the key...
to open the bars...
and be set free.
To forgive every inflicted hurt and wrongdoing...
to let it all go....
to bask in the glory of walking out of the dank, dark, binding cell...
into a new year...
perfectly grudge-free.
To choose love over hate...
life over death....
victory over defeat.
To refuse to carry undue pain...
one step farther.
To toss the negativity...
and leave it where it was born...
in the land of yesteryear.
To drop the excess baggage of 
every weight that has pulled me down....
and run forward...
light and unencumbered.
To turn my back on the past...
to forget the things that bring hurt to remember.

To enjoy each day of life,
never forgetting how precious it is.

To love my family...
 and friends...
even more...
every day.

To cherish each moment I am given with them....
realizing even more the value of every second.

To live life...
to the fullest.

To accept God's forgiveness...
for all of my own wrongdoings.
To embrace His love...for me...
yes, even me....
flawed, imperfect, damaged, marred, blighted....
To release fear...
and every shred of torment it possesses...
in its chilling clutches.
To own what God has given me...
and to capacity.
To acknowledge that His gifts were given to be enjoyed,
not approached with the constant dread of them being taken away.

To stop feeling unworthy... 
to realize and embrace the fact that He wouldn't have died for me
if I weren't valuable in His eyes.

Today is January 1, 2013.

It is a good day to believe...
to renew our commitment of faith...
to the God of Heaven.
To take fresh courage and walk forward in the steps of His Son.

To remind ourselves that our faith is a deep-seated reality
that is not contingent upon outward circumstances.

I don't know about you,
but I'll tell you what I'm thinking.
I'm thinking that today...
and every day of the new year....
is a good day to be an optimist.  :-)

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