FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: On staying positive (when you really don’t feel like it)
Welcome to the “front porch.”
This past week a couple of friends wrote and asked if we could write some on ‘positivity and purpose.’ In their cases, they have been going through the recent loss of their dad. In the aftermath of such a traumatic event, it is easy to lose both your positive spirit and your sense of purpose, for sure.
I tossed over their question in my mind for a while, being very careful because we know the ‘limitations of words’ during such a time. There just is no quick fix for someone who is grieving. A person just does the best she can.
It is difficult when a person has to go to work and put on a good front and be there for those who depend on her on her job as well as those who depend on her at home. It’s not an easy balance at all. The last thing I want to do in trying to encourage someone who is in that place in life is to say anything that might minimize the difficulty of it. You want to write something, say something, to encourage them; but you can do the very opposite if you give some kind of pre-fab answer such as telling them just to depend on their faith. As much faith as I know these ladies have, I also know faith doesn’t lessen the sorrow of losing your dad. In the past year I have witnessed the same with my wife Marilyn in mourning her mom and dad.
Despite our faith, we have a big hole in our lives when we lose someone close to us. In the long run, yes, our friends’ knowing their dad was a Christian means everything – but right now they have to find a way to carry on and – somehow? – keep that positive spirit. They have just lost the first man they ever loved, after all. That’s something big.
So, as you begin this process, how do you maintain genuine positivity? How do you stay true to your purpose? I am not sure how successful I was in answering my friends’ question, but we tried. Perhaps our answer to them may help you, too.
First, I think they have already taken the first step in maintaining that much-needed positivity. The first step I think is the realizing that you need to maintain that positive spirit you always had – as best you can, no matter what. But, still, know that when you fail at what you’re trying to do, that’s all right, too.
Another thing that helps is to look around and realize that there are others who need you right now. In the girls’ cases, their mom is number one on that list. As hard as it is, sometimes we have to put our own emotions on the back burner to tend to someone else who may need us now more than ever. When you slow it down and look at it, you realize there is your purpose. Their purpose, first of all, is their mom.
Purpose is rarely glamorous. It seems that it always involves rolling your sleeves up and going to work. It’s doing the hard things, the trying things. It’s the sacrifice. The evenings will come when these friends may need to be home cooking supper for their husbands; and they have to make that phone call: “I’m sorry, hon, but you’re gonna have to grab something again tonight.”
In doing all of that, everyone involved is doing exactly what the Lord asks and expects. Whatever you do, you do it heartily as if to the Lord, says the apostle. Colossians 3:23. Do it ‘heartily’ may be easier said than done – but you do it as heartily as you are humanly able, and then you leave the rest up to the Lord.
So, to my sweet friends I can only say: You’re doing great – and even when you aren’t doing great, you still are, because you’re doing the best you can. God bless you in that!
Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a full-time writer and preacher of the gospel. In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text 972-824-5197.