The Silver Lining
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Col. 3:1-2)
I've just survived the first day of this current round of online schooling. Managing 3 children and all of their Zoom meetings with their classes is no joke.
It's been an interesting week regarding this. When the announcement first came down that this online schooling was going to happen, no one in my family took it well. I was thinking of the extra time, effort, and mental space this was going to take up for me and my kids were all saddened that they weren't going to get to see their friends or teachers in person. Needless to say, it was a pretty depressed family atmosphere.
In the midst of all of this, my wife stepped up like a champion. She asked everyone what they were feeling and why they were feeling as such. Then, in a moment of inspired brilliance, she asked everyone what the silver lining on the situation was. Everyone sat is stunned silence for a moment with a "Does not compute" look across our faces. Our brains weren't ready to go down that path quite yet… we were too busy complaining and dwelling in our negativity.
One by one, my kids started coming up with good things that were going to happen with them being home doing online learning. It started with getting to sleep in, getting strong again from the workouts that I make the kids do with me, time for them to create baking, etc. Before too long the entire atmosphere of the house shifted and positivity reigned. We started to share things we were thankful for, recalling how blessed we've been.
Perhaps even more than my kids, this lesson hit me like a ton of bricks. I had spent the first several days of the week stuck inside my own head, feeling like nothing was going right and overwhelmed with the myriad of issues that I needed to tackle. I've struggled with depression in the past and every once in a while it creeps back up on me and threatens to pull me under. Depression comes when we don't see hope for whatever situation we're in… we end up trying to manage the negative thoughts percolating around our head instead of filling our heads with positive thoughts. This exercise that my wife ran us through stopped the repetition of negativity endlessly bouncing back and forth in my brain and started me thinking of what is going right. It turns out that I have a lot more good things going for me than I dwelling on.
Unfortunately, I think this is a common problem with humanity. We tend to constantly reflect on what isn't going the way we want it to rather than fill ourselves with gratitude for the good that's happening. We then grumble and complain, at least internally. If we're not careful, we form such well-worn paths in the neurons of our brains that we naturally and easily slip into an attitude of victimhood to life. All we see is negative things happening to us that we have no control over. Life then becomes one arduous situation after another, each to be endured until the next one comes along. It's difficult, if not impossible, to manage this spiral of negativity. The helpless thoughts just keep coming, with ever increasing emotion.
The solution isn't to manage the negative… the solution is to fill yourself with positive. It's an attitude of thankfulness for what is going right, gratitude for the blessings that are in your life. Over time, you begin to train your neurons to naturally fall down this path of positivity and you don't fall to despair again, because there's always hope. There's always something good to see. There's always a silver lining.
This is why God admonishes us time and again to bring our thoughts up above. We're to think about the Kingdom of God, to fill our minds with ways of joy, peace, love, justice, and blessing. It's not that God wants us to ignore reality, but rather that God wants us to have an accurate picture of reality. Instead of seeing a cesspool of human evil, He wants us to see how able He is to reach into every situation and bring beauty for ashes and joy for mourning. We're to be enamoured with how able He is, not how helpless we feel. Looking at the silver lining reminds us that we are a people filled with hope, because we have a God who acts in glorious ways. No mere problem can interfere with His awesomeness.
If you feel stuck in negativity and your thoughts are bringing you down, ask yourself what the silver lining is. Start speaking out what you have to be thankful for and just see what happens.
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