This post is adapted from a sermon preached at the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem on the weekend of May 2-3, 2015. You can listen to the audio here.
What we say to ourselves and to others shapes the way we experience life. If you develop the habit of noticing and remarking on every negative thing that happens, that practice will guarantee you will develop into the most negative person in the room.
I live in downtown Bethlehem and, as a result, we park our car on the street. We never get to park directly in front of our house because the two couples on either side of us are retired and rarely move a cars without replacing it with another one or a motorcycle. At first it was no big deal. Then it became annoying. Eventually, especially with the winter, it became frustrating bordering on outrageous.
Every time I turned on to the street I’d recite a litany of reasons why I couldn’t park in where I wanted to. Even if I got to park close to in front of our house, I’d become conscious that it was only a matter of hours until one of us would have to go somewhere and consequently lose the spot once more. Every good thing became simply the prelude to the next bad thing.
There came a point where I took a mental shift. I semi-consciously decided not to park on our block. Ever. I started to practice thinking things like these couples are older and it’s good for them to not have to walk far or the weather is pretty and it’s nice to walk an extra half-block to the house. Even when there are spaces on our block, I don’t take them. I find myself thinking I’m glad that I can leave that spot for one of my neighbors.
Writing this I find myself concerned that perhaps the spirit of Joel Osteen has taken control of my mind! On one level this is a fairly superficial thing to be writing about and for you to be reading about. At the same time, I don’t regret it. My life has been enriched because I am choosing to see this situation in a positive light. Now, when I unlock the front door I’m in a better mood than before. Who benefits from that? Certainly me, but the rest of our family too.