The Power Of Positive Thinking
Posted: 07 Mar 2014 04:01 AM PST
God has equipped us with many tools to give us a happy life. This week Mary describes the difference it makes in everyday life when we use our mental tools to choose trust, to work to understand, and to choose to see the peace and beauty in each moment. -Editor
Have you ever noticed that doing the same action can be changed drastically by your own attitude and expectations? For example, let’s say you have to drive 50 miles to get somewhere today. If you are on your way to a job interview, you probably left early, gave yourself lots of extra time, planned your route and spent the drive rehearsing what you will say. If you are on your way to see a loved one that you haven’t seen in a long time, you might be singing happily to yourself, noticing the sunshine or bluebirds and wishing you could just get there faster. But if you are running late to get to a meeting that you are dreading because you don’t feel prepared and you don’t like the people who will be there, you might be feeling very differently. It might seem like everyone is cutting you off in traffic, it is taking a very long time to get there, the sun is glaring in your eyes and you just spilled your coffee on your new outfit.
The Lord has been showing me that often the most important thing I have a part in is my reaction to what is happening. He might still ask me to do something for which I feel terribly unprepared. He might show me some frightening giants that I need to conquer in my spiritual life. I might feel like I’ve been captured and taken away into captivity at times. And I do still have to take responsibility to do the next right thing each day. But what if I had choices that could make all of it better? What if it could actually work out more smoothly and with less suffering because of something that I have been given the power to do?
Here are a few thoughts and examples from the Word that show the effect that my choices about my reactions and attitude can have on a situation:
1. I can choose to trust that with the Lord’s help I can do what is asked of me
From Exodus 4
”Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’” (Verse 1)
The Lord then gave him not one but THREE signs to show the people so they would believe him. And Moses still doubted:
”Then Moses said to the LORD, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” So the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” (Verses 10-12)
And still Moses didn’t believe that the Lord’s power was enough to help him do this so he begged to get out of it.
“But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.” So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses…” (Verses 13-14)
Moses not only doubted his own ability to accomplish what the Lord was clearly asking him to do, but he doubted the Lord’s ability to do it. The signs and directions the Lord gave were not enough to convince him that it would work out. This did not stop the Lord from going forward with His plan to save the children of Israel or even get Moses out of being involved, but it made it harder for Moses.
Each of us has a choice about our reactions to what is asked of us. If I choose to be doubtful and fearful instead of trusting and hopeful the process will feel much more difficult.
2. I can choose to be hopeful in the Lord when what lies before me seems hopeless
From Numbers 13
”Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. Then they told him, and said: ‘We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.’
Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.’
But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.’ And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, ‘The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.’” (Verses 26-33)
The children of Israel came right up to the edge of the Promised Land. They saw the fruits with their own eyes but instead of trusting the Lord’s Word and strength which they had seen save them repeatedly on their journey out of Egypt, they spread lies and plans of rebellion.
”…because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.” (Numbers 14:22-24)
I have the choice to trust that the Lord can help me and to go forward with Him.
3. I can choose to believe that the Lord has a good plan for me
From Isaiah 30
”For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’ But you would not, And you said, ‘No, for we will flee on horses’— Therefore you shall flee! And, ‘We will ride on swift horses’—Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift!” (Verses 15-16)
The Lord was saying to quiet their fears and complaining and put their trust in Him and He would bring them safely home. But they were saying that they are going to have to flee on horses for their lives—so that’s what happened. Not because the Lord declared it, but because they declared it.
If I believe the journey is going to be miserable then I will probably focus on the harder parts and perhaps even put myself through unneeded pain.
4. I can choose to focus on the beautiful moments of peace and hope that the Lord is offering me right now
From Luke 10
“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’” (Verses 38-42)
Martha was trying to do the right things and get the work done but she was feeling bitter about it. She felt like her sister should be working hard too. The Lord wanted her to see that sometimes the most important thing is to accept the gift of right now. Martha was letting her worries and expectations of what was important take away her opportunity to see the truth that Lord was there with them sharing His Word.
5. I can choose to believe these things even when I don’t feel sure
In the book Heaven and Hell, Swedenborg speaks of people who have no idea that angels live in houses in Heaven, don’t realize that angels are people and even don’t believe there is a life after death:
“They could also grasp this if when they thought about angels and spirits they would step outside their preconceptions, which happens when they are not constantly questioning and consciously pondering whether this is so.” (183)
No, I don’t have “proof” that choosing to be hopeful and trusting will change anything. But if I spend my time pondering and constantly questioning whether or not I can prove that my attitude has power to affect the outcomes of situations, I really won’t ever know for sure. Perhaps the point is trusting without “knowing” that the Lord can use me to do whatever He sees fit even when I feel weak. He is able to conquer any giants that stand in the way. He is asking me to stop listening to worries that spin around in my head, to stand—confident in Him and quiet in the Word long enough to notice He’s here with me now. If I am willing to do that, even if I don’t know for sure “whether it is so”—He can show me the miracles that He already has planned. Then I’ll get to see the sparkling sunshine and bluebirds rather than the sun glare and traffic jams. That sounds good to me.
Mary has a Master of Social Work degree from Millersville University. She is currently exploring ideas of ways to combine her degree and experience with her love for the New Church in a new and useful way. Traveling keeps her busy as well—up next is a trip driving across the country from Philadelphia to Denver followed by a week in California.