Most of us have heard phrases like “smile and the whole world smiles with you” most of our life. The great book by Dr. Peale “The Power of Positive Thinking” is/was a best seller, and deservedly so. We encourage those with their “dauber down” to “buck up” or encourage them to “keep their chin up.” We all recognize the benefit of being positive and see the ramifications on our lives when we are “Debbie downers” or a “Sour Sams.”
So why do we, despite our own understanding of the benefits of positivity, become negative at times? Negativity in born of questioning our understanding of our purpose or goal; it comes from a clouded perspective. When things do not go the way you think they should, despite your previous conviction that your path was a righteous one, it is easy to become negative. I have to remind myself that if I am not facing obstacles in my life, one of two things must be happening: Either Father in Heaven does not really love me or does not care about me, or Satan has me where he wants me and has no need of making me struggle. I have a firm testimony of God’s love for me. His love has been manifest countless times in my life.
Positivity is a skill that we can cultivate.
And while there is much to discuss about this topic, I just wish to point out how our peer relationships affect our level of positivity. A number of years ago, I was stuck in a bit of a rut professionally and I felt like I needed to go back to school. I had a co-worker whom I count as a good friend. She encouraged me and positively believed in my ability to attain my goals. Occasionally she would ask me how I was doing on getting some tasks done along the way which were necessary to achieving my goal. If I told her I had not done this or that, she would reprimand me and give me encouragement to keep moving forward. To this day, I am grateful for her positive belief in me and for her encouragement. Because I counted her as a friend, I welcomed her “reprimands.” We need relationships that are positive and that cause us to appreciate the necessary reprimands that invariably come. We need brothers and sisters in the Lord who love without guile and who have a positive attitude towards us and our potential.
Open your Bibles and read through the Pauline Epistles, but just read the parts where Paul is addressing specific individuals and giving encouragement and council. Ask yourselves how did Paul address and treat his brothers and sisters? Here are a few examples:
I Corinthians 16:17-20 “I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such. The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.”
Philippians 4:1-4 “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”
Colossians 4:12-15 “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis. Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you. Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.”
How do we respond when we encounter each other in the grocery store, or at the mall, or somewhere else outside of our houses of worship? Do we greet each other with a metaphorical “holy kiss?” (or whatever is culturally acceptable in your area)
Do we go out of our way to build positive uplifting relationships with other families and individuals in our congregations, wards, or synagogues? I will tell you that I live in a part of the country where members of my faith are few and far between. When I encounter a brother in the Lord that I usually see only on Sunday, I am uplifted. I am cheered. I feel of their spirit and I hope that they feel of mine. These encounters bring me a feeling of positivity and encouragement. I love the men in my Ward (congregation)! Are they perfect; no. Are they working on it; yes I hope. Knowing that we are imperfect together but striving to be what the Savior would have us be, brings a powerful connection. I hope you sisters have similar experiences.
I know that we can often lose sight of our purpose. Sometimes we are challenged by the circumstances of life. Maybe it is a down-size at work, a wayward child, or a physical challenge. We may be tempted to become negative and wonder out loud why these things are happening when “I do everything right.”
I challenge you to be there for your brothers and sisters. Build relationships with your fellow congregants. Encourage one another. Be Paul’s Timothy. Serve one another and love as Christ does you.