Choosing Joy

Recently someone close to me sat me down for a little “come to Jesus” and told me that my cynicism is a little, well, excessive.   I’ve always thought of my sarcasm and self-deprecation as something that’s just a part of my schtick, something that sets my brand of humor apart, and something that keeps me grounded.

 

But as this person (whom I value and respect, and in whose opinion I therefore put great stock) pointed out, it is more than that.  It’s become so that I am no longer just the funny girl who throws out her unfiltered cynical observations, but rather I’m the girl who spouts criticism every time she opens her mouth.   Sure, it’s not as though I’m going around saying outright cruel things, and it’s not that I am intentionally rude, but far too much of what I say is negative, be it a cynical observation, a critically-leaning suggestion, or a complaint.  I’d say that’s almost worse, because it’s a subversive kind of negativity that isn’t immediately noticeable (clearly…) and can put down roots before you even realize it’s there.

 

Someone I consider to be somewhat of a mentor once told me, “A critical mind can become a critical spirit if you’re not careful.”  At the moment, I thought nothing of it.  Little did I know how important those words would be to me nearly two years later.  There’s a difference between thinking critically and living critically.

 

This is not something easy to accept.  I’ve known a handful of people whose lives were- from what I could see- characterized by negativity and criticism, and it is extremely uncomfortable to think that I may have joined their ranks.

But I will not stay here.

 

“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.”

1 Peter 3:10-11

I want to be someone who reflects Christ in everything she says and does, and my negativity is anything but Christ-like.  I cannot proclaim to be His disciple and then have speech that is uncharacteristic of Who He is.

“Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.  My brethren, this ought not so to be.”

James 3:10

My life should be characterized by joy, because I have every reason to be joyful- the King of kings has called me His own!  He has come, He has conquered, and He will come again. And in light of that, my joy should know no bounds, and that joy in the Lord- rather than any negativity- should define my speech and my attitude.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice!”

Philippians 4:4

 

In effort to eradicate myself of this negativity, I am embarking on a challenge to spend the next 30 days rewiring my attitude.  I will focus on the myriad reasons I have to be joyful, and I will give my best effort to refrain from speaking critically of anyone.  This will be a test of the power of positivity, and I’ll be chronicling my efforts with a short blog post each day of the challenge (the collection can be found under the “Testing Positive” page in the navigation bar above).  Each post will focus on a source of joy, encouragement, or positivity.  I’ll likely end up posting other things as well (I can only go so long without an embarrassing incident to share), but expect at least one Testing Positive post each day from now through November 6.  If you feel like challenging yourself to live more joyfully, I would encourage you to join me in these next 30 days!

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Homeboy gets what I’m talking about.

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