I really feel like God has been putting a few things on my heart lately, and one of them is positivity. I’ve always been what I like to refer to as a ‘poptimist’ – 50% pessimist, 50% optimist. But over the last few years, I feel like mentally I’ve slid more toward the pessimistic side of my personality, and I want to take back the optimistic side. I then ran across this quote by Yoko Ono from Cleaning Piece III –
Try to say nothing negative about anybody.
a) for three days
b) for forty-five days
c) for three months
See what happens to your life.
Much to my good fortune, I misread it, and thought it said ‘try to say nothing negative about anything.’ Period. “That sounds way too hard,” I thought, and went about the rest of my day. As evening fell, I began thinking more and more about those words. Good things are almost always hard, right? You have to work for what you want. So as of this morning, I resolve to attempt not saying anything negative for three days. This includes anything negative about others – if my sister doesn’t pick up after herself, then I will – or myself – if I don’t like my hair, I’ll wear a hat. They say that you form a habit in three weeks, but here it’s going to start in three days. I’m not including ‘thinking negative’ because outward actions create inward habits, and I have to start one to get the other. It’s a start.
> exit, pursued by a bear.
Bien dans sa peau is a French phrase that means, basically, to be comfortable in your own skin. I was getting ready to go out with my mom and sister today, and they both mentioned they were having a bad day. We all have days where we look in the mirror and see extra flab, or our hair hangs limp, or our complexion looks particularly awful – but I was surprised. They both looked gorgeous. The funny thing is, I don’t have those days nearly as often as most people I know – and I’m 5’10” and weigh 190 pounds. I’m not slender – but ninety percent of the time, I feel great. I’m happy. I’m not caught up thinking about my weight, or how other people are perceiving me. I might think, “My face is too round,” or, “My arms are too wide,” and the only thing that gets me is a day of depression and feeling like I’m not worth as much as skinny people. This, people, is one of the most ridiculous mindsets – and it’s everywhere. We equate beauty with worth. “If I have those five extra pounds, I’m not as beautiful as she is.” “I don’t have a six pack; I’m not attractive.” I have one thing to tell you – God doesn’t care about those five extra pounds. He doesn’t care if you have a six pack. He sees what’s beneath all that – and He thinks that what’s on top of it is beautiful. I’m not saying you should just let yourself go and forget about your personal appearance, but don’t make it everything. You want to feel comfortable in yourself, as yourself – and it shouldn’t be your main focus. When you’re talking to a stranger, you don’t want to be remembered as the self-conscious person who stared at the ground, mumbled their speech, and seemed unhappy with themselves – you want to be remembered as the open, confident person who radiated God’s love. If we aren’t content to be who God made us, then why would anyone else look at us and want what we have? How you feel on the inside will reflect on the surface; so what are we reflecting? Are we reflecting our dissatisfaction with our appearance, or are we reflecting God’s perfection?
“How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you.”
I ran across that quote earlier today and felt it was a God-nudge. You know those times when God kind of gives you a heavenly elbow in the ribs and hints that you might need to fix something? This was one of those times. See…most of you online see one dimension of me. Granted, you know a lot about me and I do my best to be honest with you, but you still only get one side of mme and my personality. And not to crush your Mirriam is Perfect dreams, but I’m not the kindest person. Sure, I can be thoughtful and sweet. Sure, I can give you a compliment that makes you feel good about yourself. But in real life, on a day-to-day basis, it isn’t my modus operandi. Rather than making others feel good, rather than choosing to lift them up, I blunder around without thinking and toss around remarks that, while not obviously derrogatory, certainly aren’t kind and complimentary. I’m much kinder to people I know on the internet than I am to my family, and that is all kinds of wrong. Do you know why? It’s because the rule that applies to me also applies to you – I only see one dimension of you. I see the funny and kind dimension that makes me want to make you happy. It’s much easier to love someone you know only through a computer screen, because (while I’ve been wounded by internet friends before) – you’re much less likely to say something hurtful, or dislike me when I make a mistake, than people I know on this side of the screen. You’re safer, and I’m not being brave when I’m kind to you. My family knows from experience that, while I might provide sarcasm and humor with my presence, I don’t provide the kind of loving sunlight and joy that helps people feel better. Just because I make someone laugh doesn’t mean I’ve watered their soul or made them feel good. This is a reminder I really need, day to day, because my natural instinct is I, Me, Mine; not how can I bless you? Selfishness is my biggest pitfall, and it’s something I struggle with every day. I don’t know if you also struggle with it, but if you do, I think that quote at the top of the post is a good reminder. Because, as I often remind myself, people may not remember you – but they will always remember how you made them feel.