The Power of Positive Thinking

I don’t want to pick on the book. I’ve never read it. I did see this line on Amazon though which made me stop and think: “Faith in yourself makes good things happen to you.”

I often feel negatively about myself and my circumstances. Good things do happen to me, and yet it’s still so easy to spend time focusing on the negative, and I can see how that could affect life in a long-term way.

But my question to myself is, if I change my thinking to think positively about myself, to have faith in myself, is my life really going to become much better?

There are a couple of concepts that stick in my head from the Bible that might help weigh in on this.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

In all things — so even when I’m feeling negatively about my life and things are going wrong (presumably because I wasn’t thinking positively), God’s working for my good.

All of James 1 is brilliant on this topic too, but here’s a bit of it.

James 1:1 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

There’s definitely an encouragement here to think positively, and I’ve been working on that in my life. But it’s interesting to note here that it’s an attitude of joy in trials, because our faith being tested brings about good things in our lives.

I see two completely different beliefs here.

1) Have faith in yourself, believe good things will happen in your life, and they will. (And if you think negatively, you deserve the bad stuff that happens because of that.)

2) No matter what happens to you in life, God is working to produce good within you, and you should have joy because you know it will strengthen your faith in God.

Both concepts sell books. Which one works to bring joy to someone who is a mess and desperately searching?

Puzzle Pieces

I’m working on a project right now for Restoration Urban Ministries in Champaign, IL. They have a housing program and food pantry, and take in homeless people for about a year, feed them, offer them a wide variety of classes and church services, help them find work and train them to be self-sufficient, and then release them back into the world, hopefully as changed people.

One of the things they strongly teach is that you are a person created by God for a specific purpose, and that if you can find that purpose you’ll find peace and fulfillment in life, and you’ll be able to provide for yourself and your family responsibly.

That got my attention. I’ve been struggling with a lack of peace and fulfillment, and sometimes worry about my ability to provide. I started thinking about that – our culture tends to believe we’re blank slates and we can become anything we want, we just have to try hard enough and long enough.

There’s something unique about myself that I’ve been learning recently. I have a lot of ideas and I’m not always afraid to try them, even if they are big and crazy. I sometimes see things that other people can’t see. I can be passionate about things that make no sense whatsoever to anyone else.

Maybe it’s compulsive behavior, maybe it’s because it’s a challenge for me, I don’t know. I remember once when I was working at ATS Acoustics, we had a campfire one night and we were joking about making different kinds of panels, and someone had the idea to make an acoustic panel that looked like a guitar. I had to try it. I did, and it still hangs on the wall over there somewhere. It was pretty cool.

Little things like that led me to wonder if I could start a portrait studio for my wife. I built one in our garage, and it was pretty cool. Then we moved to Watseka and I did it again, bigger and better. It was cool.

I saw a need for a small group, wondered if I could start and lead it. I did, and it was pretty cool.

I have a corresponding weakness. Long-term things really wear on me. The thought of doing something over and over and over again for the rest of my life makes me feel miserable inside. I have trouble with mowing my lawn. I wish I could invent short grass that didn’t grow, and if I thought I could, I’d put more energy into that than actually mowing the lawn.

If I don’t have new projects coming in regularly, I go nuts. I start inventing new projects from nothing. If I don’t have any new ideas, I start to get depressed.

I do believe that God creates us for a specific purpose. We still have choices to make, but I believe He created us with gifts that fit a task we can do well.

That makes me excited for the future. I don’t have all the pieces in place yet, but I believe God has a plan for my life and He’s leading me.