life · soul food

Attitude Matters

Last Summer we spent a few days in Orlando because Abe needed to take a test there. On our way back we decided to take an impromptu trip to Saint Augustine. It was actually the opposite way but it was Father’s Day and we almost never get to travel anywhere anymore. I had been wanting to go there a for a long time, so it seemed like a really good opportunity. We got there shortly after noon, and even though it was scorching hot we actually had a really nice time. It really is a wonderful city. While we were walking around the shops we entered one which became my favorite called Red Pineapple. It was an eclectic mix of everything I like, selling gifts, art, and some apparel. I noticed a few framed quotes on the walls, but I didn’t read most of them. Abe pointed out one that at that time didn’t really mean much, but it is now my favorite quote of all time.

That day, while I read the quote I didn’t think much of it because I was having a great day, doing what I love most, traveling with my family, and having a good time. But soon after that, as the days went by and the reality of life hit me once again I understood the real meaning behind it. As Christians we are always told that we have the joy of the Lord readily available. I personally have struggled with this for so long, especially in my early teens. Many times in the past I’ve prayed and waited for that joy to overtake me and take away the sadness and the fear. But one thing I’ve learned is that happiness is a decision, just as love is in many ways a decision as well. Our attitude affects everything, and we have to make a choice about what that attitude will be.

I understand now that  when I face difficult situations that are beyond my control I have to make a choice about how I will respond to them. Will I let them defeat me and make me want to run away and hide, or will I face them with peace, knowing that I am prepared to face anything with a positive attitude? I believe in a God that is bigger than any situation and even bigger than my own fears, but I have to put that trust in him in order for his peace and joy to work in me. It is completely up to me. I think of it in the same way as my salvation, it is readily available for me if I am willing to accept it. I am not going to be “possessed” by joy and peace. It is not something that falls from the sky. I’m sure for some people it has pretty much worked that way when they had no willingness to do it on their own. But what I mean is that it has to be something we are willing to do, rather than something we just wait around to receive.

I’m still working on this, Anxiety and negativity are things I still struggle with. The difference is that I know I have a choice and that is very liberating. When I’m facing a difficult circumstance my natural instinct makes me want to freak out and run away. But knowing that I can radically change things simply by my attitude I quickly choose to remain positive. I shut down the negative thoughts, and pray for wisdom to keep moving forward. This has completely changed my life, or at least how I live it. I choose to have joy, I choose to have peace, I choose to fill my mind with verses that reassure me that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:8New International Version (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
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