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Affecting or Infecting?

If you have ever struggled with a little negativity in your own life - such as just not being able to see the forest for the trees - you probably will get what I am going to talk about today.  Life choices are based on what we evaluate to be either "negative" or "positive" for our lives.  We try to avoid the negative and move toward what we consider to be positive.  The time it takes to avoid one and move toward another is really what gives us the most problems, isn't it?  One of the things we have to keep in mind is the "ease" at which the negative stuff comes into our lives.  It is like this ever-present gift that just keeps on giving!  On the other hand, the positive stuff takes a little longer, might seem a little hard to get our hands around, and sometimes even seems to evade us!

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.  (Philippians 4:8-9 MSG)

First things first - our words often reveal the course of our minds and influence the environment into which we take steps forward, backward, or none at all. Maybe this is why Paul focused on filling our minds with things which mattered the most.  If we look at the list, these are not the things which come naturally to us.  They are pursued on purpose.  Negative stuff comes our way because it naturally exists in our environment.  People gravitate toward negativity when they don't understand stuff.  They get negative about others when they might not want anyone to focus on them.  There is just something "natural" about negativity.  On the other hand, these things Paul tells us to fill our minds with are not "natural" - they take some work.  Yet, if we focus on these, we find our view of life turns a lot more positive, even when negative stuff seems to surround us.

Next, if we have been embracing the negativity around us, it is time to let it go.  How?  Probably one of the simplest ways to let something go is to move toward it in forgiveness.  Simple?  Yeah right!  Forgiveness is not all that simple, is it?  Nope - it is purposeful, costs us something, and sometimes takes us out of our comfort zone.  Look again at what I said - we move away from negativity and toward the positive in the actions of forgiveness. Forgiveness has some pretty specific actions - things like letting go of the debt you feel another "owes" you, not holding onto what you think you have a right to, etc.  The more we engage in these types of actions of forgiveness, the easier it is for us to move away from the negative and toward the positive.  As we move in forgiveness, the things which held our attention and demanded so much of our energies in the negative realm no longer hold the same power over us.  Those energies are free to be refocused - we have more to invest in the positive, making the positive more attainable than it was when we held onto the negative.

If you don't think your relationships are important in this battle between embracing the positive and releasing the negative, think again.  They matter big time!  The more we hang around with negative people, bent on skewing our perception of life toward the negative, the more we become rooted in never taking steps to get out of negativity.  Negative people affect other people - maybe even "infect" them.  Staying rooted in that type of soil will certainly turn the "fruit" on your vine very "acidic"!  Good fruit only comes when we are in good soil - if your fruit seems a little acidic - you might just consider where you are planted!

Most important of all - keep your perspective.  A word on perspective - the best perspective is established from the best vantage point.  The best vantage point is next to the heart of Christ.  This said, the best way to step away from the negative and toward the positive is to nuzzle up really, really close to the heart of Jesus.  How?  This IS the simple part - for it takes only a word to him to be drawn near.  What we don't realize is he accomplishes the work of coming near - he gives the access - we just have to ask and then be drawn in.  We make this "closeness" with Jesus such a hard thing - thinking it is done only on our knees, in a quiet room, with lots and lots of focus on "getting close to Jesus".  Come on!  Although these experiences are good for us in order to develop closeness with Jesus, we meet up with Jesus many different ways and in all sorts of places.  One of the places I hear from him and release stuff to him is in the drive between home and work, or work and home.  I am alone - except for the hundreds of other drivers on the road!  I get to talk to him about whatever I want - and he talks to me about whatever I need!

There isn't much we can do about the negativity around us - except keeping the perspective which will help us to avoid being sucked in.  If you have been sucked in already, it is not too late.  Get a change of perspective by drawing close to Christ, allowing him to direct you toward forgiveness, and then let your mind be healed.  Your energies will be renewed as you do - and your change in perspective might just be what the environment you are in needs, as well!  Just sayin!

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