Cultivating Gratitude and Positive Thinking!

Why me?  There are often times I ask myself, Why do I battle with anxiety?  Why have I gone through these last terrible years?  Am I normal?  Am I the only one?

And while I can see how my past has allowed the pieces of the puzzle to fit together in such a way that I could only but have responded to life the way that I did, I often wonder if there could not have been a better way.  You see, my whole life has been geared in such a way that I could not have responded any other way.  The lies that Satan has told me and my family has set the stage for me failing, falling apart, and not coping with life.  I’ve told you about how the competitive nature of my mother saw her competing with me at every level – where she socialized with my friends throughout school.  In fact, my school friends used to come over and visit with my “cool” mother, while I sat alone in my room or watching TV.  The effect of this is that I have never really learnt to make and keep friends.  And the few friends I do have now, I keep very far away from my mother (not consciously, but more instinctively).  But, the bigger effect is that I had no support system for when I needed it.  You see, another of Satan’s lies – because a time came when I truly believed we were in this world alone and I pushed everyone aside.  But the truth is, we are not alone.  God is with us each and every day – his Holy Spirit is our comforter.  So, my relationship with my mother set the tone – I was needed to validate her existence and so I believed the lie: I could not cope with life, I was prone to anxiety – not because that was the truth, but because my mother needed it to be true.  And I was too young to know any better.

Another aspect of my life that set the stage for the last couple of years was my relationship to food.  My mother went over the edge every time I ate anything, because she was afraid I was going to choke.  Then when I wasn’t eating, she went over the edge because, well, because I wasn’t eating (I was even sent to a psychologist for anorexia – even though I had never been on a diet or over exercised in my life).  Now, if either of those lies were true, I wouldn’t be here, because we need food to survive.

And finally, my parent’s marriage.  I know that God brought the two of them together – how do I know this?  Because when you stand before God and vow to love this person until death, then the vows matter.  And those are promises to God that should not be broken or taken lightly.  Instead, my mother would climb into bed with me at night, and bad mouth my father every opportunity she got.

So, given this background, it was only inevitable that I would fall into anxiety attacks when faced with life changing events of my own: becoming a mother, not coping with a new-born who screamed for a year nonstop (and who still does not sleep), losing my job, finding a very high-profile job that completely overwhelmed and intimidated me, and knowing, seeing and feeling the impact all this pressure was having on my marriage and feeling powerless to do anything about it.  But the biggest challenge was changing my mindset – because the only reason why I gave into anxiety, is because I really didn’t know any different.

And now I am starting to learn – I need to think God’s thoughts based on His word.  Anxiety is not from God.  And having an unhealthy relationship to food is not from God.  And thinking that I am not coping, or that I am going to fall to pieces every time something happens, is not from God.  These are not even closely based on God’s word or His truth.

And that is why it is so important to be careful what you think about.

2 Timothy 1:7For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

You see, fear is not from God.  Peace and love are.

John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

And so what am I doing to change my mind-set?  Well, first, I am focusing on what God’s word says.  And second, I am working very hard to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.  To see the good in my life and to be grateful for it – no matter how small – instead of seeing the negative.

Philippians 4:8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

And today, I get this Joyce Meyers reading which lets me know that I am most certainly not alone:

Evil Forebodings
by Joyce Meyer – posted May 20, 2014

All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances]. —Proverbs 15:15

Shortly after I began to seriously study the Bible, I felt an oppressive atmosphere around me.  Everything seemed gloomy—as if something bad was going to happen.  It wasn’t anything I could explain, just a vague, dreaded sense of something evil or wrong about to happen.

“Oh, God,” I prayed. “What’s going on? What is this feeling?”

I had hardly uttered the question when God spoke to me.  “Evil forebodings.”  I had to meditate on that for several minutes.  I had never heard the phrase before.  God had spoken to me, and I stayed quiet before Him so I could hear the answers.

I realized, first of all, that my anxieties weren’t real—that is, they were not based on true circumstances or situations.  I was having problems—as most of us do —but they were not as critical as the devil was making it appear.  My acceptance of his lies, even though they were vague, was opening the door for the evil forebodings.  I eventually realized that I had lived in the midst of similar gloomy feelings most of my life.  I was expecting something bad to happen instead of aggressively expecting something good.

I felt a dread, an unexplained anxiety around me.  I couldn’t put my finger on anything specific—only that sense of something evil or terrible.

The Living Bible says, “When a man is gloomy, everything seems to go wrong.”  That’s how I felt, as if something—maybe everything—was wrong or was about to go wrong.

As previously stated, I realized that for most of my life, I had been miserable because of evil thoughts and anxious forebodings.

As I continued to meditate on evil forebodings, God broke through and gave me a clear revelation.  I was miserable because my thoughts were miserable—my thoughts were poisoning my outlook.  My thoughts robbed me of the ability to enjoy my life.  I should have been saying, “Thank You, God, for today.  Thank you for Dave and my children and my friends and all Your blessings.”  But, instead of being positive, I found myself even dreading to answer the phone when it rang, for fear it might be bad news.

All of this gloom and doom that surrounded me began in my abusive childhood.  I endured a great deal of misery, and most of my life was unhappy and filled with disappointments.  I began to live in a vague fear and dread of the future.  I had not been taught to let go of what was behind.  I couldn’t rejoice in what I had now and the good things going on in my life.  I focused on the past and what might lie ahead—and what lay ahead was usually gloom and doom and chaos because that was what I was expecting.  Satan had built a stronghold in my mind, and I was trapped until I learned I could tear down that negative, evil stronghold by applying God’s Word to my life and circumstances.

I once had a friend whom I’ll call Marlene.  She lived in a state of constant chaos.  One day she had health problems.  The next day Marlene’s son had lost his job, and they were going to have to support him and his family.  As soon as that was over, another traumatic situation would erupt.  Marlene was a Christian, but she lived in fear of bad news.  Marlene would not have known how to live a life that was not filled with chaos.  All of her conversation was negative and gloomy.  Even her countenance was sad and gloomy.

I realized that I had started to become like Marlene—I was miserable because I had allowed Satan to rob me of the ability to enjoy my life.  It took a while before I was able to be positive most of the time, but little by little, my thinking changed, and so did my life.  I no longer live in evil forebodings, expecting to hear at any moment of a new problem.  Now I purposely expect good things to happen in my life.  I realize now that I can choose my thoughts.  I don’t have to accept Satan’s lies.

Like everyone else, negative things do happen to me from time to time, but I don’t become negative because of them.  I remain positive, and that helps me enjoy my life even in the midst of the storms.

Dear Lord Jesus, through so many days in my life, I have been robbed of my joy and contentment by evil forebodings.  As those feelings come to me, please remind me that You are in control.  Help me to rest in You and rejoice in Your power in my life.  Amen.

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