How Do You Stay So Positive?

happiness

It was a question via Facebook messenger, completely out of the blue from a high school girl from our Youth Center. She simply asked,

“How do you stay so positive?”

I wanted to hug her.

It’s such a simple, little question packed with SO much.

I remember what it is like to be a teenage girl. It’s overwhelming. It’s difficult. It’s lonely. It’s confusing. I love that this young lady feels all the feels and wants to fight negativity. Fight lies. Fight cynicism. Fight apathy. And have positivity.

Here’s how I responded to her that night (it was late, and a little jumbled :)):

“I know it’s a little cliche-but honestly, it’s my faith. Faith and age 😊 I wasn’t always like this-when I was your age, I was on depression medication, Zoloft, and definitely had breakdowns and felt despair. I’ve even had those in the last couple of years (though the older I get, the less and less frequent that happens). My faith keeps me positive for 2 main reasons: one, I believe that absolutely everything that happens, God can use for good-to grow me into a better woman. He is doing a million different things in my life all at once, for me- for my good, and I only can see a few of them. I believe He is good and patient and kind-so that helps a lot. And secondly, I believe that no matter what happens in this life–it’ll pass. I know it will. And eventually this life will be over and the best life will begin! And that helps me maintain a positive perspective too.

It doesn’t come naturally always. A lot of times i have to “walk myself to truth” and journal out what I know to be true, and what lies I may be believing that are causing my heartache. It doesn’t just happen overnight; it is a journey. But I can say for fact, that choosing joy and fighting for positivity now, is sooooooooo much easier today. So wherever you’re at-keep fighting for joy. Figure out truth and preach it to yourself and have others speak truth to you too! God really is the great Comforter and believing in him-his power & goodness & control- is the only way I’ve found to really BE positive!”

Peace Within the Gray

PWTGAre you in a gray area? You know, in one of those situation where God hasn’t said stop, but He also hasn’t said go? Though he clearly hasn’t said yes, He definitely hasn’t said no. Do you feel like you’ve been in this or at this for far too long, that it is far too painful, and that you are far too fragile to be able to stay here? Where is the solution? The door isn’t locked, but it isn’t really open either. Do you beg God for an answer? Any answer! Do you cry out to Him for the next step, or for assurance or confidence to do something other than just pray and pray and pray and pray?

Yeah, me too.

And I’ve heard it painfully expressed from so many people lately. Friendships, marriages, careers, and future plans are all in these drab, gray areas.

With my heavy heart thinking of my burdens and the burdens of so many around me, I went to the one place of true comfort, the only source of peace-God’s word. I needed to read and see that He hears me, and that He cares, and that He is doing something now or is going to do something soon. I needed that assurance and that comfort that there is a purpose for where I am at now, and that God can grant peace even in the gray area if I trust in Him.

Among other truths, I ended up being wonderfully encouraged by this compilation of verses all about God hearing us. As I read through them my anxious heart started to feel more at ease, and I noticed something. Twelve of the verses listed came from Psalms, many of which came from David. They sounded so confident. They sounded so sure. It made me wonder, did David really know gray areas?  Was his life mostly easy? Would he be able to comfort someone stuck in a rut?

So I looked up a chronology of David’s life and saw gray upon gray upon gray! I forget that this giant slaying, song writing, legendary man after God’s own heart, lived a very difficult life. Read the list! He was exiled from Saul for 9 years, endured a three year famine, involved in wars, committed horrendous sins of his own, and then saw his own family commit equally horrendous offensive sins, he was tormented during most of his son Absalom’s life, exiled again when he was 65 because of that very son, and many other untold heartaches I am sure.

Yet, this is the man who says all these things about God answering, and delivering, and listening, and saving, and being merciful, and being steadfast, and being gracious and good and loving.  How? And if he can, how can you and I?

Where I landed is that David did (and you and I should do) two main things. He looked back and he looked forward. When I say that “he looked back” I mean that he went through enough in life that he could reflect on and see God’s hand and faithfulness in each circumstance.  He could have confidence that God would not abandon him now because he clearly saw how God did not abandon him in the past.  And he looked WAY back, to the pages of scripture to know God’s character and who He is. And the second thing David models to us, is that He looks forward. He trusts God future plan of perfection. He knows that eventually (even if it is nine years later, or in eternity) God is going to bring resolution, and it will be in His perfect timing and His perfect way.

In order to, like David, have peace in the gray areas you must take time to cleanse your heart of cynicism and search for God. You must trust his Word and his goodness by praying and reading Scripture. That is the only way your heart will change. Yes, this is work. It takes time. It might be hard at first. It might feel like the cliché Sunday School answer. But you CANNOT have peace apart from God and his word. And you cannot know God apart from spending deliberate time with Him. As C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” So stop just thinking that peace or holiness or contentment is just going to come. It isn’t. It takes work. But the end result of peace is completely worth it-so do it. Look forward and know that you are not going to be in this situation forever; don’t waste this time. Look forward and trust God is working, and that He will work ALL things together for good. You want to grow and be better, and wiser, and more loving, and more patient because of this time. Life is full of ebbing and flowing, and after this trial will come another one, so learn to have peace now so that you can have it in every circumstance. Your gray area, it will be redeemed one way or another. Until that comes-cling to truth that God is present and faithful and loving and has a purpose-search Him to know.