I am guilty as uncharged. I have not been accused by anyone of any particular offense; yet, I know I am guilty of something quite unbecoming my Christian testimony. I am guilty of being negative. But, guess what? So are many of you!
Indeed, far too many of us are negative souls. Sometimes we don't even realize it. But think about it...how many times do you salivate over a juicy political or Hollywood story? How often do you find yourself talking dismissively about a person at work or church? When was the last time you defended someone who was being criticized unjustly by another? How many times per day do you think a negative thought about yourself, a family member, a friend, or a colleague? Your answers to these questions can be quite sobering and are certainly indicative of your "negativity quotient."
Contrary to what our culture might lead us to believe, however, negativity is not an emotional reaction or personality trait. It is a choice! We make conscious decisions every minute of the day to be either positive or negative...optimistic or pessimistic. Sure, life regularly serves up generous helpings of frustration, pain, disappointment, and mediocrity. But it also presents us with many wonderful opportunities and blessings. For instance, I can choose to grouse about the pain in my back, the fact that I have to work three jobs in order to make ends meet, the smell emanating from the carpet in my van, and/or my unfortunate experiences with a former employer, or I can choose to live in gratitude for my five beautiful children, my extraordinarily talented and supportive wife, the countless professional opportunities I've been presented in the last 20 years, and the physical and mental abilities God has given me through his abundant grace.
Indeed, when I step back and weigh the good against the bad, I find that the good almost always wins out; the scales tip toward the good side nearly every time. Foul-smelling cars, hard labor, joint pains, and bad employers are nothing more than bumps in the road. The enduring things such as family, faith, spiritual gifts, personal abilities, and harnessed opportunities are what really matter, and these are blessings virtually all of us have! Of course, these blessings are sometimes obscured by our day-to-day vexations, but if we look intently enough, we will see them manifesting all around us!
So, I could be frustrated by all the negativity in the world...and within me. But I'm not. In fact, I'm positive that everybody's so negative! Why? Because it means we can improve! I don't have to stay where I am; I can move to higher ground! I have an opportunity to allow God's grace to elicit grace in me! I may be negative today, but tomorrow is a new day--a day for proclaiming the blessings, mercies, and love that abound in my life.