If you knew me, you would know that I am a born pessimist. Not only is the glass half empty, but it is evaporating as we speak! I can tell you the negative side of just about anything. You know that 1% chance that something could go wrong? It will happen to me.
However, I have learned that everything is a matter of perspective. And I have to remind myself that when I look back at things later, I may be truly grateful for something that right now seems insurmountably terrible, awful, no good and/or very bad. And sometimes when the little things get me down, I find that if I change my perspective, my attitude improves. Sometimes, this change in perspective takes time. Sometimes, it takes determination.
When I was a kid (especially as a teen), I wondered why I was burdened with these two people who put so many demands on me and seemed to want to crimp my style. Now, I realize how incredibly blessed I was to have two parents who loved me and wanted what was best for me.
Following the “accidents” that led me to meet my husband, I thought it was the end of the world and got chills thinking about how I nearly lost my life because of someone else’s poor decisions. After my husband’s accident, he wondered if his life would ever be “normal” again. Now, together, we are awed by the idea that two near-fatalities could end up leading two people to meet and pledge to spend the rest of their lives together.
When I look back at the move we made after my husband got laid off for the 4th time in eight years, I wonder why I didn’t trust that God was going to make everything turn out alright in the end. Then, all I could see was the mounting bills, uncertainty and stress. Now, I am SO glad that happened because it has brought us to where we are now- surrounded by family, in a much smaller town (which I like), with a better job, a serious improvement in commute time (8 minutes), and a better situation overall.
When our first child was diagnosed with celiac disease, I could not believe how many changes we were going to have to make in our lives so that she might be well again. Now, I am grateful that those things were all we have to do to keep her healthy. Celiac disease is the only autoimmune disease that can be controlled by diet.
When our second child was diagnosed with lead poisoning, I cried when I thought about all the work we were going to have to do to get his lead levels down. Now, I am grateful for all the people who have stepped into our lives to help. One group even came up in a bus from Texas to help us!
My struggles with perspective are not only due to the “big” things. Big things take more energy and time for me to change my perspective. I need to change my perspective on the little things DAILY and sometimes HOURLY.
I have mountains of laundry because I have a family who has clothing. Therefore, the laundry, the family, the clothing and the washer/dryer are all a blessing.
I have mountains of dishes because I have a family who has food. Therefore, the dishes, the food, the family and the dishwasher are all a blessing.
I have a messy house because I have a family who plays and works there. Therefore, the mess, the family, the vacuum cleaner, the broom and the mop are all a blessing.
I have children who fight with one another because I have children. I would be really sad if I had no children. Therefore, the children are a blessing. (This is one of the hardest for me, especially when they are fighting.)
Even holidays can make my attitude slip. I can grouse about how other people are trampling one another to get an amazing deal at WalMart. I can grumble about not having enough of this or that which I NEED (another perspective issue) to make the season bright. I can focus on being related to someone who is impossible to shop for or no fun to be around. OR, I can be grateful that there is a season in which people are asked to focus not on themselves, but on the blessings in their lives. It does not matter what I get for Christmas or what I get other people. It does not matter that my kids will not sit still or keep their hair combed for the family Christmas picture. It does not matter if my meal plan fails or I burn the sweet potatoes. What matters is that I have a family and we get to be together!
Changing perspective is not always easy, but with some will-power and a little reminder here and there, it can make the difference between grumbling, complaining and wallowing in self-pity OR being grateful for the little things and the big things. My negative attitude can actually make things worse! So, from one pessimist to another, change your perspective and it might just change your life!