By Michael H. Brown
Are you a victor or a victim? I heard a preacher ask this the other night. It’s a good question. We need to make sure the answer, of course, is “victor.” That’s the easy part. But how do we “win” — find happiness — in life?
The answer is Christ, and in His Light, how we view situations. First, take a look at your heart. Be honest: Do you look at things positively or negatively? Are you looking to the future or mired in the past?
When we’re living in the past, we are often living through the lens of the negative — dwelling on past sentimentalities or tragedies or loss; often, insults or injuries, which means we may have bitterness in our hearts. When we do the latter, our hearts and souls, our emotions, are marinating in whatever it is that made us bitter. And when we wallow in such juice, we’re losers before the game even begins.
Who hasn’t done that? Who hasn’t felt sorry for himself? And sometimes, we have what seems like darned good reason! There are folks who have suffered calamity after calamity — cancer, other serious disease, heartbreaks, and accidents all in one horrid package. I have a friend who had this occur in the course of a few short years — along with family problems, loneliness, and struggles in the workplace.
Her response? At first anger at God. But she was courageous enough to shed this anger and it led to her conversion!
That’s the result of making a decision for the positive and we are all called in all things to take a positive perspective. Yes, we acknowledge the negativity; yes, we know that we go through trials; and, yes, we are aware of evil.
From time to time, the enemy attacks.
But we are called to transcend it. And we do that by making the simple decision to accentuate what is positive. We can take all past sorrows and hurt and give it to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Take it to Him and watch darkness vanish. Trust in God makes us free.
Look at the Blessed Mother. Most women who were scorned as pregnant without (initially) a formal husband, then chased down by a brutal tyrant, forced to give birth in the poorest of circumstances, and forced to watch a Son murdered in the most brutal fashion would be pretty bitter! But Mary was not — and all generations have seen her as blessed!
Talking positively, thinking positively, and acting positively — seeing His Light at the end of the tunnel — draw the positive like a magnet.
Watch that happen to you. Expect good to come — really expect it — and watch how, in God’s time, it alters your reality. It’s a principle of faith. It is also why we are called to hope in the Lord. Hope leads to trust which leads to the miraculous.
On the other hand, when we choose negativity, we’re drawing things that will be increasingly bad. We especially attract such negativity when we dwell on past hurts. Too often we immerse ourselves in self-pity instead of the love of God.
This is where the enemy hooks into us. This is where he causes real damage! The demonic is attracted to negativity, like flies to trash (which negativity is).
The way away from that?
The past should never dictate our future. Through Christ, we, not the past, should take control of what happens to us. Did He not come to grant us that victory — and life abundant (John 10:10)? We have to tap into that. We may not be able to undo negativity in our pasts, but we have a lot to say about the future — and a positive future means a positive attitude.
For this we often need forgiveness: get rid of any bitterness in your heart. Do you really want to wallow in that? Do you really need negative obsessions? Do you not notice how repeating a negativity — dwelling on it — keeps magnifying a painful memory?
With Christ we leave past hurts in the dust of our positive outlook — which speeds us away from painful thoughts. Get up and do new things instead of sitting around remembering what was done.
Bitterness is an acid, a bitter marinade, that eats away at us, and so is inertia or morbidity. Simply, do not allow yourself to get depressed. Clinical, you say? A psychological issue?
Perhaps, in certain cases. But often, depression is a spiritual issue — one we can control and even eliminate by moving on, by praying, by making the decision to move forward and let our wounds heal. Dwelling on past hurts is like constantly picking on a scab — which not only inhibits healing but leaves scar tissue. Did you ever have a bad cut? Do you remember the scab that formed? And do you remember what happened if you picked at it?
The same is true with our emotions. So make a decision not to be mad. Make a decision not to be sad. Make a decision to forget the wounds and let God heal them.
The trials of Job?
When met by faith they always turn into the greatest periods of grace.