Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Conquering the Negative

I have to admit it- we used to be middle class (okay, lower middle, but still in the middle), but with the economy taking a swan dive into the depths of debt, we're now thrown into a whole new era of need. I could cry poor mouth (in fact, I have many times, much to my shame), but what good did that do? People would get uncomfortable around me and start to walk away when they saw me coming. I gave this a great deal of thought, and I've been a big, weenie-burger whiner. I kept putting on the crap-colored glasses and seeing the negative in my surroundings.

The bank account is starving, but we aren't. Due to some awesome bargain-finding skills via me, my husband and my mom, I've gotten wind of some great sales when food shopping; good quality stuff, not the insta-meals that will keep you fed, but are filled with all sorts of chemicals. Home cooking not only allows me to make things fresh, but I know what's going in it. No MSG or yellow number 6, thank you very much!

Just don't ask my son if he's starving. He'll tell you he gets only one breakfast (at home- he sneaks another at school), one snack, one lunch, another snack and only three servings of dinner. The funny thing is we only allow two helpings at the dinner table. I think he sneaks the extra one when he goes after 'helping number two' unsupervised. The kid could eat all day and never be full, and he's only thirteen! Despite this deprivation, he's healthy, so that's another tick on the 'positive stuff' chart.

We never seem to have much extra money, but always just enough money. And that's all that really matters in the long run, right? Anytime we have extra, it's usually stocked away like nuts for winter. I start Christmas shopping in January. By the time Christmas comes around, that gift that was only five or ten bucks becomes a bunch of five or ten dollar items, and everyone gets something. Or I save up until I can get a bigger item. Either way, somebody is getting something.

This also goes for birthdays too- even though I can't always get a gift, I make up for it by inviting a few of my kid's friends over and make homemade pizza and cake. I also whip up my own frosting, and have all kinds of decorator tips from way back in the single days when I had a salary and could afford hobbies. I have yet to take a cake-decorating class, but kids don't usually care- the cake tastes good no matter how pretty the frosting is!

When I look back, I realize that most of the stuff we have was given to us via relatives and friends. We never had to buy a new couch or bed, because someone was always getting rid of theirs. The same thing goes for AC units, clothing, books and other needs big and small. It's just hard to see the blessings through crappy glasses.

God swatted me upside the head last week and knocked those glasses off, and I'm so glad He did. It's really amazing to see the world for it's potential; it's like being blocked by a six-foot brick wall- instead of looking for a way around it, I was staring at the bricks close-up and wondering how I could ever manage getting over something so big. All I had to do was look up to see the obstacle was not as cumbersome as I imagined. Now my vision was clear, and things were looking up. Literally.

I intend to keep this positive attitude. How? By thanking God. For everything.

I found myself asking God for stuff, and very little time thanking Him, except when it was something big or something I might have gotten in trouble for. How many time did you pray when you accidentally ran a red light or thought you broke something precious to someone else? I decided to just stop during the day and thank Him for whatever came to mind. And during that time, not ask for anything. It's harder than you think!

I thanked Him for my warm fuzzy socks that protected me from the cold kitchen floor. I thanked Him for the energy to get the kitchen cleaned. I thanked Him for the chance to bless others that morning, when I was able to offer my cell phone to a motorist who locked her purse in her car. Anything and everything I could think of for that few minutes was glorifying God and no one else. And I came away feeling better about the world in general.

Everyone here knows how much I hate housework, but since I started thanking Him for the energy to do it, I've been finding myself humming as I worked! Acting like I was actually having fun! It was a very weird experience, but a good weird. Like Gonzo. And I just had to share that feeling with you.

If you're in a similar situation (and more of us are as each day passes), don't look at the world through crap-colored glasses. Don't wait for God to swat you upside the head. Take a deep breath, take those glasses off, and look at the world from a different perspective- a more positive one. What can you do to bless others? What can you thank God for? What's happening that's good in your life?

I bet you'll feel blessed too!


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