I remember a friend and I going on a ‘negativity fast’ a few years ago. It worked really well. Watching everything coming out of your mouth – wow, I was surprised how much negativity I was speaking over myself and over others. But good resolutions fade and I recently caught myself. I think it fair to say I may have complained my way through the day and felt yucky for it. I wonder if negativity is the best witness this Christian gal could be having. Well no, I don’t wonder. I know it isn’t.
Sometimes we come face-to-face with what we are slipping back into and it’s not pretty.
Cynicism is the way this world functions. Sarcasm is such a British humour that it’s hard to figure out when we’re being funny and when we’re tearing holes in someone or something. It’s culture. But maybe, just maybe it’s more. And maybe, just maybe, we are called to more.
I know there is a spiritual world speaking negativity over me – telling me I’m a failure, idiot, fool, unlovable, ugly…those words are whispered and how often have I taken them in and learnt the lines and spoken them over myself? How often have you heard it said that we are our own worst critics? And yes, Paul commanded us to take a good honest look at ourselves – we’re not supposed to be speaking silver-tongued lies over ourselves either. Constructive criticism (“I wouldn’t do it that way again”) is very different from the criticism I can spew at myself though (“You idiot, can’t believe you did something that stupid. Again.”), isn’t it?
I’ll never forget my best friend turning around and saying to me: “There are enough people in this world willing to speak negativity over you. You need to speak God’s truth over yourself.”
Positive thinking won’t win this one. But He will.
Oh, it may appear to do the trick for a while but if this has got any depth of spiritual warfare to it, we have to realise mind over matter just won’t cut it. (And seriously, this condemnation being spoken over us and what we do – I doubt that ‘just happens’.) We need power. And this is where I love the fact we have access to it: “God’s Way is not a matter of mere talk; it’s an empowered life.” (1 Corinthians 4:20, The Message) I am going to stand on that promise.
So there are two prongs to this, I’m feeling: the negativity we speak over ourselves and the negativity we’re spawning in other’s lives by our attitudes and words. Is that a fair analysis? I know winning this battle is not an easy one. It’s one I thought I had won but slowly, insidiously, it can seep back in. But thank God (literally), this is not our fight to battle on our own.
(If it seems like I say that line a lot on this blog – it’s because that lesson has sunk home. I need Him. I need Him to live. I need Him to fight. Oh, He’s not standing there doing all the work for me but this is definitely a partnership here.)
Going back to those few years ago, I remember my friend and I discussing what we’d call our fast. Fast sounds short-term and we were hoping this would have lifelong impacts. I think I may have read up about them (although I can’t find the link now) but we decided to call them ‘yellow days’. Doesn’t it just sound sunnier than ‘Negativity Fast’?!
Well, you’ve all heard of blue days – the ones where nothing goes right and you’re just down in the dumps? Well, think of gorse flowers in the sun, daffodils in spring, a bright summer dress, the light of a candle – that bright yellow colour. Think of that. If a colour can be positive, yellow is it. I’m not saying we have to dance happily through every day – because there are days it’s ok to cry, and there are days it’s ok to scream at God, and there are days when everything is messed up – and those are the days we say “yet, I will praise the Lord” with the Psalmist. It’s gonna take faith to get there. And it’s going to take some deep housecleaning by the Holy Spirit in my case. But this is a journey I want to move forward on.
I don’t want another day where I get to the end and am just faced by how much negativity I’ve spoken. In fact, in the pigswill of cynicism, I wonder if I spoke love and truth over anyone or anything. And that saddens me.
So yellow days.
And because I’m the kind of girl who likes a visual reminder and likes making stuff just a little creative, I’m going to buy myself some yellow nail varnish. And maybe make a yellow bracelet. Something I’ll look at and go “oh yeah, I’m praising Him in this situation, not cursing my luck”.
Yellow nail varnish.
Just to make it a little more fun – and to remind me. You know how people tie knots in their hankies (in books, at least), well this is my ‘knot’.
Pondering this verse: “Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2v.14-15). Seriously – speaking God’s truth over situations rather than spewing negativity – what kind of impact could that make? Isn’t that a witness?
It’s a challenge, that’s for sure.
A mega one.
“Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of…the Living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night.” (Philippians 2v.15, The Message).