Something that has been really concerning me lately is how I come across to people. I seem to give the impression (at least in the 30 second encounters I have, which I think is the amount of time it takes for most people to form their opinions of you and probably the length of time in which most of our encounters transpire)...that I am a negative person and that all I talk about is my medical situation. While I don't believe that my close friends think only that about me...our conversations are varied and involve usually pretty large amounts of time spent laughing...those who have little contact with me or rather only sporadic contact, may very well be getting that impression.
This is something quite distressing to me to realize because it is NOT the way I want to come across nor how I want to be remembered, nor how I want to BE. I was trying to understand what I am doing and why I'm doing it in order to understand this better and to change it. The largest reason is: It is usually the first (and too often only) thing many people say to me: "how are you feeling?" or "how are you doing?" Now, the fault lies at my doorstep that I interpret this in a physical (and thus, medical,) sense. And I give them the lowdown (which is quite an appropriate name for it!!!) on my status in terms of pain index, the latest news on my medical front etc. Or the answer (and lame) answer I give is: "hanging in there" which gives (accurately??) the picture of someone in a noose or hanging onto a windowsill (from the outside) by their blue knuckles, etc. NONE of these are positive images which I've just created in the listenerarises to just spill somewhere--the sadness and pain that my life contains (as is true of every person)--and oddly, I seem to choose the wrong forums in which to do this. This junk, frankly, belongs in a journal and for the ears of God, and not in places where people come to form their opinions of me or to receive my encouragement. While they should know, if they are suffering, that they are not alone and will be understood here or in those other places where I have dealings with people...that really awful and private stuff should be saved for the ears of a notebook or for those of a close friend who knows me well already, and will not be thrown or misinformed by this ten minutes of time. Instead, I've had it backwards: I've saved the laughter for my close friends and spread the negativity all over the place in my dealings with others. ( Note to readers: please read on, and note the revelations about myself that take place as I continued to write)
However lately, I've noticed a growing tendency in myself to be negative...and to feel sorry for myself...and neither of these are things that I want to be known for or to allow to grow in my character. Now it is true: I do suffer from SZA and part of that diagnosis is that I have bipolar disorder/depressive type. And this is bound to affect my attitudes somewhat... at least, if I allow it to. There is still the ability in me, I'm sure, to change that...to choose to be otherwise and to work on developing a positive, grateful heart...After all, the God who dwells in my heart has more than sufficient ability to transform characters and overcome diagnoses. As Ann Voskamp discovered for herself , learning to be grateful for the numerous blessings surrounding us from the Father --and in fact, even noticing them at all--will transform our characters. (Read her book, 1000 Gifts: Learning to be Happy with your life Right Where you are. for her story)
My negativity has spread like a toxic green slime all over my reputation and into my dealings with people and here and into my being itself, and now I want to apologize and to tell you that here and, for the first time sincerely, I am going to "Choose Joy" as Sara Frankl was so famous for, and the reason why her recent death is mourned by people near and far (for more of Sara's story, please visit her blog at www.gitzengirl.com and you too will be blessed by a contagious joy that permeated her being.). I've said in the past, that this was the choice I wanted to make...but something in my being was resisting this change...(self-pity??)...but this needs to be ferreted out, brought before the Lord and confessed, and a decision made to reject this attitude from having and allowing this poison to be allowed into my character....And this needs to be done now, before I lose every single person I love and every friend I have.
I think that Joy and Gratitude and Faith, when forged in the fires of suffering and pain, are beautiful things to behold, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of other people (I find it harder to admire these in people who've never had a challenge or a hardship in their lives) and I want them to be the defining qualities of my life. (Hey, HERE maybe is the "Treasure from Darkness" I've been talking about so much!). I've asked God a million times, "Lord, why have I had so many close calls with death...and not yet been taken to your Kingdom?" I've suspected strongly that there was either some task he wanted me to complete, or that there was some character change that needed to be accomplished before I stood before his Throne to give account and something for which he wanted to reward me rather than to rebuke me (I've thought this over often) and in his love, he was keeping me here, in this place of suffering, rather than either permitting me to come to his side or to be healed entirely and that what needs to be done, must be done in this place of pain.