"Go ahead and set down son! Make yourself miserable." (Basil Owen Gary, 1912-1998)
The above quotation from my grandfather still resounds loud and painfully clear when I find myself anxious, emotionally flat, or thinking negatively. He was a remarkable man with tremendous insight. He was rather quiet and pensive, but in a very good way. When he did position himself to speak (he'd always push his glasses up on the bridge of his nose), my brother and I listened intently. He sometimes made remarks that made no sense to me as a child. What did he mean by "make yourself miserable"?
Having worked in the coal mines of western Kentucky until the depression struck, he learned to practice what was on a card given to him when he became a foreman at International Harvester in Chicago. On the card was the familiar Abe Lincoln quotation that reads, "A man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be." (I'm sure he meant women too!)
If we are feeling miserable, hopeless, and like a failure, who has really made us "feel" this way?
"Well, my dad (or mom) used to tell me constantly I would never amount to anything."
How long does such a "dad", or someone else who influenced us poorly during those formative years, remain responsible for our intentional prolonged refusal to reject the sale's receipt? Holding on to messages of the past certainly can create feelings of self-loathing. Those who whine have no spine!
This isn't being judgmental; it's a simple and most plausible fact. The spine is still there — as are the God-provided attributes that He generously gives us: self-responsibility, self-control, and the ability to re-programme our minds.
"I know I should have, would have, could have, but —" — but what?!
2 Corinthians 10:5 – We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (NIV)
It can't be broken down any more simply than this. As one particular saint said, "I can't keep the birds from flying overhead, but I can keep them from making a nest in my hair!" It's comical, but so very true.
Changing thought patterns can be tough. Realizing that we tossed years away because we refused to come to God and accept His Son, Jesus Christ, will prove to be a much tougher reflective nightmare.
God is willing and waiting to provide strength and courage to anyone who turns his or her life over to His guidance and direction, to be freed from negative thinking irrespective of how it is packaged. Let us each move forward with a joyful heart, and disdain any and all thoughts of failure.
"When you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, roll over!"
Prayer: Gracious and loving Father, forgive us for self-pity. Help us to embrace with joy the life that you offer us in Jesus Christ, and to live in the freedom which He gives us. Amen.