Monthly Archives: July 2014

Positivity in the Midst of the Unknown

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For the past year or so, I have been working on keeping a positive perspective. I am a perpetually negative person. I typically see the glass as half-empty and I would like to tell you that I am truly just seeing the glass as it presents itself. I gravitate towards the negative of a situation. Often, I find saying negative things seems more truthful than saying positive ones. This is because I rarely notice the positive in a situation. I sometimes feel it would be lying to state something positive because I cannot look past the negative to see it.

This is certainly not a way to keep friends for very long. People simply do not like to be around a negative Nancy. But I wasn’t being negative to be annoying. I simply did not know how to see a situation as positive. I (by the grace of God, and a few other people) finally realized that all of this negativity stemmed from my perspective, not my circumstances. No matter the situation, I could find something to complain about. I was even able to complain about classes being cancelled because it meant this or that which I wasn’t prepared for. It was my heart that needed to change.

So I began a journey, actively pursuing the positive side of life. I am certainly still on the journey, but I have come to a place I never thought I could be. I am not overly optimistic about things, and I still on occasion complain about things that should be happy or at least good. However, I have had a heart change. I have prayed often for God to show me positive things. I know my tendency to complain goes much deeper than circumstances or even personality. If I cannot see the positive things, I cannot say them. So I work hard to see them. Every time I feel the warm sun against my skin I feel alive. When it’s hot outside, I remind myself Texas is hotter, and winter is colder and I am content with being hot.

My circumstances have changed. My life has been abruptly interrupted by news. The life altering sad kind of news. A year ago, this would have shattered my world. A year ago I would have dwelt on it, obsessing over every known and unknown detail. I would have told everyone I saw.

But I’m not worried. Another thing about positivity is that is infectious. It is a paradigm shift and therefore it shifts everything else. A year ago I would have said that I trust God with this situation, but it wouldn’t have stopped me from worrying. Now I know with my head and my heart that worrying will not help. What will happen, will happen and it will be whatever can best glorify God. And it’s good. That is how people praise God for hard things.

Even in the midst of sorrow, I lift my praises high. Because He is good. Not because I think He will miraculously change my circumstances. Not because I think I deserve this. He is good because He cannot be bad. He is good because His love will never end. He is good because He does not change. He does not cease being good because my circumstances change. He does not cease being loving because I am unlovely.

It’s in these moments–the ones we would not prefer. That sticky messy part of life that no one plans for and always hopes won’t happen, that’s when we feel God’s love best. People gather around us in support. We feel the love and grace of God through their support. We feel it through sermons and scripture readings and notes of encouragement. We feel it through promptings of the Holy Spirit and well timed phone calls. It’s these moments that we would not prefer that the love of God is evidenced strongest. And these are the positive moments that I choose to hold. The suffering is hard. The pain is real. But so is the blessing. Even in the worst moments, the positive is there. And today I choose to see it.

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Reviving the old blog

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Well I like to use my blog to document my summer adventures. I suppose this year should be no different.

This year my adventure is in North Dakota. I am in a master’s program for linguistics! It’s fantastic! I won’t bore people with interesting facts, concepts and theories I’ve been learning. I do want to say though, that in my most practical class, Field Methods, I have been studying Chilean Sign Language (LSCh). Because of the nature of signed languages and the awesomeness of our language consultant, we are able to communicate really well. He told us a joke in LSCh and I actually understood most of it!

Other awesome and important things that are happening this summer is that I have finally gotten my interpreter certification for the state of Texas! Praise God! I will have a job when I get back to Dallas! What’s been more amazing is how God has not failed us before. Even without the job, God provided for J and my needs! The job is simply an added bonus! It also feels like a validation that I have certification. My school taught me a lot about how to evaluate my skills, but it feels good that other people have evaluated my skills and found me worthy of interpretation. Not that that should be my focus or value of my worth, but it is certainly a confidence-booster.

God has been teaching me a lot about grace lately as well. It’s a hard thing for me to accept because I want to be able to do it all on my own. I don’t want to be interdependent on people. But the thing is, we need people of all sorts. We were created for interdependency. Most of all we were created for dependency on God. And that as an American especially, is a hard concept to grasp.

I have been exploring a few spiritual topics here, but they all seem to tie in to grace. I have been praying to be more positive¬† inside. Often, I am not positive because I don’t think positive thoughts. If I don’t think it’s true, I won’t say it. Leading me to say negative things which I think are true. To become more of a positive person, I have to think more positively. I cannot be content to put on a facade of positivity. I must actually believe in the positive things I am saying. And that requires a change of heart. I am very slowly getting better. And it’s that difference that I need to keep going back to (because a person who struggles with giving grace struggles more to receive it). Another question that I have had is whether missionaries actually like the people with whom they are working. That was actually the focus of a recent chapel talk. We as Americans are so focused on feeling good and job satisfaction. It is hard for us to realize that maybe God is calling us to a place where we may be unhappy. A place where we may not actually like all of (or any of) the people we work with. It’s hard to think that in that unhappy situation we are “doing God’s will.” After all He wants us to be happy right?

But that’s not actually true. God wants all people to revere Him. He is calling all peoples towards Himself. As a linguist, I have the opportunity to help Him in that goal with new people groups. Other people have opportunities in their companies or with their recreational soccer teams or with their kids’ friends’ parents. The people group that God may be calling me towards may not be a group I really connect with. I may feel like I cannot connect at all with that group. When learning a new language, I often feel like my entire personality is lost. I cannot express myself the way I can in my native tongue. I don’t understand their thought process or their jokes. It may be an exhausting struggle just to communicate my basic needs. That doesn’t mean that I am outside God’s will. That simply indicates that I need to press even harder into Him. He needs to be my strength. He needs to be my satisfaction. We can’t do it without Him no matter how hard or long we may try.