Like many lessons from my youth, some didn’t fully make sense until I grew into adulthood.
I’ve shared before that my mother had a practice that frustrated my sister and I.
If we ever said something negative about someone in her presence, she would immediately make us name 3 (not 1 or 2, THREE) positive things about the person or thing we just portrayed negatively.
I hated it.
And the truth is, she still does it today… 🙂
The lesson was simple, spend more time looking for the positive instead of dwelling on the negative. Of course, I never really got the bigger message she was trying to communicate until later in life…
It’s a message that is desperately needed in our world of news, supposed “fake” news, open letters to who knows who about who knows what, politicians, Facebook “experts”, the plot line of 90% of entertainment story lines that seemed to be culled from the depths of despair, and so on….
When you focus on all that is negative – the world becomes a place of foreboding despair.
And it doesn’t take long to make the journey to the perspective of a “Negative Nelly”.
That lesson that my mom wanted us to learn was not just about not saying something negative, it was about abiding in what was good, helpful, full of hope, and positive.
We have the opportunity to live in the joy and hope of a world with wonderful things happening all around us OR we have the opportunity to become blinded to what is good and only see what is bad around every turn.
Paul encouraged believers in Philippi in this way…
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8–9 (ESV)
You will be constantly tempted to immerse yourself in everything that is wrong in this world and it will lead you to live in fear and loathing.
You can also immerse yourself in everything that is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise.
Of course there are terrible things that need to be faced and addressed, but we must never forget to lift our eyes to beauty that exists all around us or else, we will become “Negative Nelly” to all those around us.
Seek what is worthy to be praised.