Practicing a positive perspective

Posted By | July 11, 2019 1:21 pm

Last Updated: July 11, 2019 at 1:23 pm

By Ashley Wiles – Central Church of Christ

Summer, summer, wherefore art thou, summer?  Every year, I marvel at how quickly the summer passes.  As I write this, I find myself in July, staring down the beginning of school.  Yes, we homeschool, but we follow a traditional school calendar, which means July is the time for finalizing plans for the upcoming year, and this year, I have more plans to make.  You see, Micah is 5 now, which means he will be doing kindergarten with us this year.  (And boy, is he thrilled about it!)  I’ve been cruising along in a good rhythm with Gabriel (7th) and Ethan (5th), who have become a lot more self-directed in their learning, but now I’ve got to circle back and think about some things I haven’t had to in a few years.  Out come the easy readers and early math books.  Out comes an adjusted daily schedule in which I am a lot more hands-on in school work.  Oh, and kindergarten is a signal that it’s time to take care of some other business: shots.

I had mentioned to Micah a few months ago that he was due for a few booster shots this summer, and his reaction was predictable: reluctance, concern, anxiety.  He can’t really remember receiving other vaccines, and, besides, who really wants to go to the doctor and get poked with a needle?  I offered honesty (it will sting) and reassurance (it doesn’t last long), but I wasn’t sure that he was convinced.  Not wanting him to have mounting anxiety, I didn’t bring up the subject again until the morning of our appointment last week.

“Micah, today you will take the next step toward kindergarten.”

“What is it?”

“Booster shots.”

“Yes!!!!!!”

He was excited?!  Yes, it appeared that in his little brain over the last few weeks, he had turned his fear over shots into…happiness.  When I questioned him about it, he simply said, “They mean I’ll be ready for kindergarten.”

When was the last time you were excited about an unpleasant, albeit beneficial, task?

I get to write a 20-page paper to finish this college course!

I get to pay my car insurance!

I get to go to the gym and get really sore!

I get to write lesson plans!

I get to unclog this drain!

If you’re like me, you probably haven’t said any of those things with much excitement. I’ll admit it: my first instinct is not to view the good that comes from these tasks.  Instead, I usually think about all the work and discomfort that’s going to be involved.  Thankfully, the simple conversation with my son reminded me that sometimes a change of perspective is in order.

How do we cultivate this positive perspective shift? The apostle Paul is one who seemed to have mastered this attitude of gratitude.  If anyone could complain or be anxious about the future, it was him.  This was a man who endured beatings, jail time, shipwrecks, hunger, and homelessness (2 Corinthians 11), but he didn’t seem to fret.  Instead, Paul wrote that he delighted in his hardships because they made him stronger and advanced the cause of Christ for which he worked (2 Corinthians 12:10).  With Christ’s help, Paul kept his purpose and his goal in view. He knew what he was working toward, and he kept at it, even when faced with discomfort or death. How’s that for perspective?

We can use this mindset when we’re facing tasks we dread.

I get to write a 20-page paper to finish this college course!  I am privileged to receive higher education that will create opportunities for me.

I get to pay my car insurance!  I have the ability to drive and will have some financial help in case of an accident.

I get to go to the gym and get really sore!  I am getting healthier and stronger.

I get to write lesson plans!  I can teach and influence children.

I get to unclog this drain!  I, unlike a lot of the world, have indoor plumbing and clean water.

Micah showed this to me.  He took his vaccines bravely; even the nurses were surprised by how tough he was. Micah knew the secret: he could see something momentarily painful (shots) was going to lead him to something he really wanted (kindergarten). When we’re tempted to complain about or be afraid of something ahead, let’s remember Micah and Paul’s approach and practice a positive perspective.

“…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Paul, in Philippians 3:13-14

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