How Grateful, Positive, and Affirming Are You?
I need to be more grateful. And positive. And affirming.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Some people will actually say, `But Bo, you’re one of the most positive people I know.`
Yes, I know I’m positive. I sometimes drive my wife nuts because in the midst of a huge crisis, I’m Mr. Cool. As she cries and experiences a panic attack, I put my arm around her and say, “Everything will work out. You’ll see.” Which drives her up the wall even more.
But I’m not all that positive.
To be honest, there are days when I get so focused on my ministry—with all its problems, such as money shortage, relationship conflicts, money shortage, project delays, money shortage, staff problems, and… did I mention money shortage? Because of that, I fail to see how beautiful life is. Or how wonderful people are. And I end up meditating on my petty trials. (Imagine me in lotus position, thinking of nothing else except my problems, and instead of saying “Ommmm” I say “Owwww…” And instead of a tranquil face, imagine the face of someone eating raw garlic.)
That’s when my wife senses my despondency and gives me the hug.
A few nights ago, I met people who were so grateful, positive, and affirming—it was refreshingly inspiring. We were in the happy home of Derek and Amanda Ross, a lovely young American missionary couple. Derek left his profitable construction business in the US to serve here in the Philippines through True Love Waits International.
Munching on pasta with white sauce and gorgeous vegetables, we relaxed and chatted the night away. And for dessert, I ate the best homecooked chocolate chip oatmeal cookies I’ve ever tasted in the world (and I’ve been around the world), baked by their 10-year old daughter, Sunday. Chewy, soft, yummy.
Yes, they have five kids. Sunday (10), Honor (8), Kennon (6), Ada (4), and Eli, a 6-week old baby. For a moment there, I wondered if they were Filipino and Catholic.
But all of them had blond or brownish hair, so Filipino was out. Though Derek impressed with the heavyweight Tagalog words he knew like “karimaldimal” and “kagilalagilalas”. And he mentioned that he already passed the test of being Filipino by eating “balut” through the power of the Holy Spirit.
They’re actually Baptist, but they don’t talk about doctrines or denominations. They simply want to encourage young people to live pure lives—to give them the message that True Love Waits. (Their website has an incredibly cool name: www.wagmuna.com) He’s worked in Catholic and Non-Catholic schools, teaching young people to remain pure. We already invited them to speak to our youth group, and our kids loved it.
As I said, Derek and Amanda blessed me by their character: They were incredibly grateful, affirming, and positive. They kept praising their co-workers (who were not even present) again and again and again. They spoke about how fantastic the people around them are—their helpers at home, the friends they meet, the young people they work with… With glowing terms, they spoke of the Filipino people and the Philippines. They talked about their life and raved about how God blessed them with overwhelming blessings.
I was waiting for the usual complaints about life.
About the heat of the Philippines.
The traffic of Manila.
The corrupt government.
The irresponsible young people.
But none came.
Instead, praise was on their lips. They spoke of how blessed they were. They shared their small and big blessings from God.
Oh sure, they have problems: They wiped out their entire savings to come to the Philippines. They had immigration hurdles for their staff. And they have the usual insane days of raising five kids…
But that wasn’t their focus. They focused on the blessings—which to them was out of this world. And that was the reason why they were grateful, positive, and affirming.
Gosh, it was so refreshing to speak to people like that.
For example, one of Derek’s questions to me was, “So Bo, what do you do for fun?” He was concerned that workers of God don’t have fun. He said, “It’s not all about studying your Bible all the time. God also wants us to have fun.”
“I have dates with my wife,” I answered. (Which is true. One of the happiest things I ever do is being with her.) His questions led me to be grateful for what I have.
The 5 kids were replicas of their parents. Fun. Happy. Wonderfully pleasant.
And this is what I found out: They don’t watch TV in their home. (They watch pre-selected videos.)
I’ve been to a few (very few!) homes where kids don’t watch TV. And I’ve observed that the kids in these homes are more pleasant than kids inundated with TV. I don’t see the typical angst, disrespect, or negativity in them.
Amanda said, “I’ve noticed that among kids who are homeschooled.”
Amanda homeschools all her kids. When we learned about this, my wife and I could only stare at her with our jaws hitting the floor. “Wow, and I have my hands full on homeschooling one boy,” my wife said.
Amanda said, “I’m reading a book now written by a mother of ten kids. And she homeschooled them all.”
I went home with my spirit refreshed. Grateful, positive, and affirming people energize you in that way.
Can I ask you a question?
What kind of effect do you have on the people you meet?
Do they leave your presence refreshed and energized? Inspired and lifted up?
Or do they leave your presence discouraged and despondent, wanting to meditate on their petty trials (in lotus position and saying “Owwww…”)
Lord, help me to be more grateful, positive, and affirming.
Help me to bless the world.
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