Scrap last week’s post. Start a new one. This is the advice I give myself as I sit comfortably in the warm coffee shop, feet up as I recline slightly in the comfy chair in the cozy corner that my daughter-my joy chose for us this Monday. After all, last week I went on a multi-paragraph unfinished rant about the dentist and childhood and consequences my children will never face. And this week, though I could readily work myself up into a righteous frenzy again, I will spare you all and move on to a new topic. It is no coincidence then, that my new thought for the new week is: positivity. Yes, I have recently been challenged to think and speak more positively. And I don’t like it.
Do everything without complaining and arguing. -Phil 2:14
I’ve been reading a new book lately about health from a Biblical perspective. In the past few months, I’ve been doing an ongoing study about healthy holy living and how to implement it into our lives on Frank Corner. Much of the time, my study only reaffirms what I already know: White sugar is bad, fruits and vegetables are good, being active is healthier than being sedentary. But there are things that have been new and downright raidical as well: wheat should be milled at home and baked immediately for the greatest health benefits (daily bread), certain meats are dangerous to our health and should not be consumed (biblically unclean), and if we want to have a positive environment in our home, we have to be positive in our speaking and thinking! Okay, that last thing was not so much of a revelation as an “I already know that and I don’t want to change” thing. Apparently, in this area of my life I’m still a 15-year-old with crossed arms and a rebellious attitude. Ugh. Sigh. Insert annoyed eye-roll here.
In the book, the author speaks of being a guest in a home where the rule of the house was that there was to be no negative talk and no negative attitudes. In fact, if he came to the table with the the family and wore a frown on his face, he was asked to leave the room. I read this story to myself. Then read it aloud to Mr. Frank. And my heart was struck. How could I even begin to implement such a policy with the Frank Corner crew? Especially when I’m the worst offender?!
But what’s more disheartening and obnoxious than a teenager who complains about everything, or a nine-year-old who cries every time things don’t go her way? Or the constant bickering of four children who walk around with a chip on their shoulders and lash out at one another for every slight offense? It’s enough to make Mommy scold and nag and yell in unbridled frustration. And by the time poor Daddy gets home, the mood of the house isn’t a welcome one where people are loved on and built up, it’s a den of vipers where people are chewed out and torn down.
Just like every other healthy lifestyle change, the person I have to start with, is me. I can’t very well yell at my children to make them cheer up, or threaten them to, “have a positive attitude or so help me!” No, that will never work. The first person I’ll have to excuse from the table for frowning is myself. And I’ll have to surrender that flare for hyperobole that tends to accompany a dramatic rant: “You always…! That never…!” (Wait, am I a fifteen year old?).
This will not be easy. I’ve been trying to accomplish it for an entire day and I’m already exhausted. But if I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, then maybe I can do all things without complaining or arguing. And maybe (just maybe) my children can too. I believe it’s definitely worth the trouble to find out.