Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Smile Umbrella

The other day I decided to turn over a new leaf. I have written about the diet and exercise demon with which I battle, but that is not the tree I was climbing. Perhaps it's in the same forest, but I decided to scale the tree that is positivity.

I am, by nature (or nurture?) something of a pessimistic, glass half empty, person. I made a vow to change that attitude, stop mulling over hurts or perceived insults and just let a smile be my umbrella. When a criticism, negative or judgemental thought came into my head, I made a conscious decision to put a stop to it and move on. Whether I felt snubbed, wanted to think like the fashion police or just felt a bout of "woe is me" coming on, I just didn't wallow in it.

It was surprisingly freeing and required far less energy than venting, stewing or trying to think of a way of addressing the snub (real or perceived) in a passive-aggressive way. I was prepared to face anything that came my way with love and self-awareness. I wasn't stuffing my feelings, I just wasn't letting my thoughts control my feelings and actions. Yes, I was practicing cognitive-behavioral therapy on myself.

And then...something happened that snuck in under my resolve and I started to wonder if this person was humming, "There's a sucker born every minute..." I started to wonder if I was being cynical or just cautious. Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean someone is not trying to "take you for a ride."

My smile umbrella was blown inside out by this doubt and suddenly I felt raw and vulnerable. What if you trust someone and they make a fool of you? What if they take your money but don't do what they promise? What if you think someone is your friend but when you reach out to them, they ignore you? What if?

Jesus answers my, "what ifs." Jesus knew someone was going to betray him. He KNEW! It was inevitable, necessary even. Jesus knew one of his disciples would deny even knowing him. He KNEW! Jesus didn't change course, he didn't call people out by name. Jesus loved.

I am not Jesus. I am human; weak, broken and afraid. However, I have such freedom in Jesus that I do not have to be a slave to the doubt and fear. I don't have to be a "sucker" but I also am free not to let the cynicism spread to all other areas. Caution is wise, don't misunderstand. However, sometimes just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean you have a reason to be.

I guess the key is to remember that God gives me the strength to do all things and I can try to model Jesus. Remembering his love, grace and mercy always makes me smile. Now that's a BIG umbrella.



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