In the late 70,s/early 80’s my husband and I were involved in a couple of multi level marketing companies/programs. What we experienced in those days is still being used of the Lord to guide us today. We had no idea at the time that our thoughts and ideals were being shaped by some teachings that were anything but Biblical. But it all sure seemed to be at the time. And then it didn’t. We were never positive enough,
The Power of Positive Thinking, PMA or Positive Mental Attitude, were a couple of buzz phrases of the day, and positively, we were thinking positively. We, along with our friends from church, became well versed in the ‘think and grow rich’ or ‘what you believe, you can achieve’ ideologies. It all felt so great — the enthusiasm, the patriotism, and the high moral standards and behaviour we saw exhibited. The “Soap Company” was squeaky clean and we were all in. Until we weren’t.
I share all that, in part, to say that there’s nothing new under the sun. What was buzzing in those days continued and is buzzing today. The words may not be the same, but the motivation and the intent are the same. You Got This, You are enough. I am more than enough. You are deserving. I am deserving… you get the idea. More of the positive mental attitude that puts self in control, or self as the priority—seemingly regardless one’s circumstances.
I wrote the above portion of this entry one year ago. One year ago at the dawn of the New Year 2021. A new year that was filled with unknowns. I’m not sure why I didn’t complete this blog entry — perhaps I had a subconscious knowing that I had absolutely no idea where to take the “positive mental attitude” concept in a time I had anything but a positive mental attitude. In many ways, less so, now.
I just finished a book by Kate Bowler, No Cure For Being Human (and other truths I need to hear). Early in the book as she’s describing one of her many stays in hospital, she shares an exchange regarding books in the hospital gift shop. Prominently displayed was Joel Osteen’s book Your Best Life Now. Kate had just had one of a number of major surgeries related to invasive cancer. She commented to the shop’s manager that that book (and a whole stack of other Christian bestsellers she’d piled on the floor) was not suitable to be sold in a hospital.
I’m almost embarrassed to say that I laughed out loud reading that — given her devastating condition. Yet, it was that very condition that gave her the perspective—and the authority—to make such a bold declaration. Throughout the book I found various observations of life’s absurdities to be so instructive.
I’ve been reflecting on the adage, You don’t know what you don’t know. It takes a whole lot of living to really get the deep meaning of old adages — though we so often readily agree with them. In theory. Over the the past year as I’ve wallowed in grief, depression, regret, disappointment and more emotions than I could possibly have been able to understand, I’ve been assured that things will get better, or to look on the bright side, or a host of other well meant assurances. Maybe I just needed to browse the Christian Bookstore’s best seller section and read the glowing titles. Or not.
What I do know is that each morning as I’ve opened the Word, I’ve been met right where I’m at. I’ve been met by hard truths and gentle persuasion, affirmations of God’s loving kindness, tender mercy and His Providential care. As I embark on this new year, I do so with hope. Not necessarily hope for my best life now, but hope in the Living God who does all things well. And loves me.
And you. And in this year ahead, may we positively rejoice in Hope.