Friday, June 27, 2014

I Don't Do Debbie Downer

Confession for you all – and this is so that you can pray for me instead of judge me. (Insert scowling eyes for the judgment followed by Precious Moment eyes for the plea of prayer) I am a counselor in many regards, but I am flawed. Here is my biggest flaw in this area. I struggle with people who always see the cup half empty and are nothing but pessimistic and negative. I truly struggle with it.

Now Jodi, you know that not everyone has had a great life as you have had – you may say. Absolutely. My heart wrenches daily in the occupation as public school educator as I encounter day in and day out those children who are in situations that THEY DID NOT CHOOSE. That makes me so sad and mad at the same time. They have had no choice into the life situation in which they were born, but it has happened.

Nevertheless, I feel that it is my job to open those children’s eyes to what is good so that they can have hope. Yes, I have led a student to Christ before in public school and I will do it again if the child point blank asks me to. God knows the rules and He graciously helped me obey them while still winning souls for His kingdom. Good stuff. Another day another story. Many students enter into my classroom with behaviors that are the result of a tragedy. They are hungry. They had a fight with their mom that morning. They were abused by someone the night before. They have lost power at their house and as a result took a cold shower. They do not have running water. They have a medical condition that is not being properly treated either out of absence of funds or neglect. They don’t even live with either parent because those parents are unable to raise them. I cannot tell you how many students I have had over the past few years that were not being raised by grandparents, but by GREAT grandparents. Any of you ready to take that on? Of course not. Great-grandparents should be enjoying that title – GREAT. They have passed through the challenge of parenting phase and are now in another stage of life that is not focused on constant management of child development.

But there is good. There is good. And I strive to help these kids find the good. And believe it or not, we almost always do. Goodness in the fact that someone is raising them. Goodness in the fact that they will get 2 warm meals today at school and probably a snack from me for the road. Goodness in that they are able to get an education and rise above the challenges they are immersed. Goodness in the beauty of a sunset with which they have eyes to see. Goodness in friendships that they have from loyal buddies. Goodness in heat. Goodness in shoes. We count blessings. Do you?

This is where I struggle in counseling. I find it ok to work through the cloudy vision of a child. They are not mature enough to see what is good or they haven’t had a chance to have someone mentor them through this process. But adults who wallow in “woe is me” world make me crazy. Crazy. I mean really, you survived middle school and high school. That is enough to hear the Rocky song playing in the background each morning you get up. If you see me in deep thought, there is no telling what is going on in that vast open space up there in my skull, but I often find myself wondering why people are happy in victimization. DON’T YOU SEE WHAT YOU DO HAVE?

List what you do have compared to others.

1. Are you breathing? If you are reading this, than yes. Even deeper, are you breathing without the assistance of oxygen? Are you breathing clean air? Are you breathing with full lung capacity?
2. Do you live in America? If you didn’t read yesterday’s blog, than this might catch you off guard. However, you still live in one of the few countries that allows freedom of religion and assembly.
3. Do you have a roof? Yep, one up on many there.
4. Did you eat yesterday? Again, better than most in the world.
5. Do you have an option for clothes? Go visit a 3rd world country and see not only absence of clothing options, but absence of shoes and absence of warmth.
6. Did you go to a job or to school today or yesterday? Ok, not everyone loves their job, but you are getting paid aren’t you? More than many.
7. Did you go to public school in America? That was free. Did you actually appreciate that given? I hope so.
8. Do you still have contact with family members? Even though they may drive you crazy, be thankful they are there.
9. Do you have a friend? Awesome. If you have more than one, than get up and do a hallelujah dance.
10. Do you have indoor plumbing?
11. Do you have running water?
12. Do you have electricity?
13. Do you have a car? Does your family have more than one car?
14. Can you put gas in that car occasionally?
15. Did you have covers as you slept? Did you have a place to sleep last night?
16. Do you have a coat for the winter?
17. Here are some more luxurious amenities – do you have a fridge? A stove/oven? A microwave? A dishwasher? A washer? A dryer? A TV…or 2 or more? A computer? A cell phone…or 2?
18. Do you have group to belong to? A church? An organization? A club?
19. Can you walk and/or run?
20. Can you communicate with others without complications?

Do you see what I am saying? I don’t know how we can find ourselves in the pit of despair for long periods of time if we actually take a look at all that we have to be thankful for. Listing your blessings has always been something that people debate. Some people see it as vain and conceited. I see it as awareness for who you are, where you have come, and what your future can be.

Satan has spent the past few weeks seeking to discourage my family and provide a pit of despair. If we fall into the pit, than he wins and we stop being effective for the kingdom. I refuse. I have lost my mom, nearly lost my husband (more than once), lost a child, been in financially challenging situations, survived car wrecks, been unemployed, diagnosed with not cool medical conditions, worked in extremely challenging environments, battled weight issues, struggled in school, had regrets, and so on and so on. Today, I have so much – still much more than I know I deserve. When you find yourself wondering what else can happen or why me, than begin your list of why you – who has so much and what else have you been blessed with? Start your list. I guarantee you won’t be able to finish it today or on one piece of paper. Why you? Because your story is one that is being written so that others are inspired and encouraged. Why you? Because you are amazing and uniquely designed by your creator with a purpose. Why you? As you start the list, the story will unfold.

Shed the Debbie Downer and find Penelope Praise.

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