Thursday, January 23, 2014

Choose joy

Have you ever met a person who is, undeniably, unashamedly, an upper? No matter what the circumstances or day's agenda they emit an aura of positivity. They wear a permanent smile that is practically painted on their face. They see challenges as opportunities, detours as adventures. Rainy days are perfect for puddle jumping, clouds perfect for reading outdoors without having to squint. There is nothing that can bring their spirit down. They see the bright side of every situation.
On the flip side of that coin is the Negative Nancy, Davey Downer type who lives under a perpetual state of dissatisfaction. They are continually complaining, looking at every glass as half empty - or perhaps even less than half empty! They wear a frown and carry with them an air of annoyance and unhappiness.
Yesterday, in the space of just a few hours, I had the opportunity to come across two such diametrically opposed people. Both worked at the same job, both were about the same age, yet they couldn't have been more different.
The first man talked of his job with thankfulness and appreciation for the work. His job is not the least bit glamorous. He is a shuttle driver for a service department at a car dealership. He spends his days driving customers back and forth from the dealership to their desired locations. Yet, he didn't appear to resent the mundane work. He looked on the bright side. "I get to meet all sorts of good people," he said of his job. He shared with me that his pay is only nine dollars an hour. Needless to say, he isn't in it for the big paycheck. What this job provides him is the opportunity to interact with all sorts of people that he would, otherwise, never have the pleasure of knowing. His attitude was entirely focused on the bright side.
When the time came for the ride back to the dealership, I looked forward to the sunny reappearance of the upbeat driver!  But, the afternoon brought a new face behind the wheel.  And it did not take long at all to discover that the afternoon shuttle driver had an entirely different perspective.  His description of his job was much different and much gloomier. When I asked him if he enjoyed his work he replied, "I meet a lot of people I'd rather not know." Wow. The difference in perspectives stunned me.
One man looked at his job behind the wheel as the meeting place for new friends. The other viewed the same customers with disdain.
How can two men, with the same job, in the same age bracket, have such opposing views of the same set of circumstances?
It all comes down to attitude and attitude comes down to choice. The problem isn't that one driver gets all the kind, generous customers while they are in good moods, only to turn over the keys to the afternoon driver when all the customers have turned rotten and mean. No, the one man has chosen a joyful, thankful spirit and the other has not.
God has made available to us an attitude of joy and thanksgiving. It is our responsibility to claim that spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." God desires for us to have a thankful heart that sees the good in our circumstances. This is a choice, it doesn't just happen by chance. Giving thanks is a decision. When we choose to be filled with this joy we are continually thankful and unable to possess the attitude of a complainer. The two simply cannot co-exist! You cannot be praising God and complaining in the same breath. When their is a song of thanksgiving on your lips, when you choose to sing that song, you don't give negativity a foothold. 
Every day we wake up with a choice: face the day with a joyful, thankful spirit or choose to view the world through eyes of negativity. The choice is ours. God has given us boundless, overwhelming, unstoppable joy if only we will accept it. We can decide to make His joy our own and carry it with us everywhere we go, regardless of circumstances.  Or we can deny God's gift of joy and allow complaints to fill our minds, spewing them out through our words and attitude. 
There is no doubt about which choice will please our Heavenly Father. He desires from His children a spirit of thanksgiving and a heart of praise. He wants us to be filled with joy. He has made it available. Now it is up to us to choose. 

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