Our mind loves to focus on what is negative. Perhaps it helps us perceive danger so we can protect ourselves. However, when we perceive danger or distress in everything, we become super vigilant, depressed and worn out. We no longer experience laughter or happiness. There is no joy in our lives.
I do not like gray skies that go on day after day. I would not be a very good cave dweller. I need light. During long, northwest cloud-covered days, a light box joins me and my cup of coffee as I begin my day with The Message and my laptop. But while I am encouraged with God’s word, and the light box changes melatonin levels in my brain, I also bring to the mix my automatic responses to what is going on around me.
In Philippians 4, St. Paul tells us to “celebrate God”. We are told not to fret or worry but instead pray and fill our minds with things that are “true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (The Message)
So I put a new perspective on the gray northwest skies. I look out my window and see instead of rain and gray the green landscape of lawns, trees and bushes. In spring, I marvel at the abundant colors from tulips, daffodils, rhododendrons and azaleas that thrive under rainy as well as sunny skies. I change my focus from the color gray to the green, red, purple, and pink colors of plants and trees that bloom in spite of cloudy days and make the Pacific Northwest one of the most beautiful places in the world to live.
In the same way, we are challenged to put a new perspective on other things in life. Parents are challenged to teach their children rules and responsibilities while giving them freedom to be children. We are challenged to see the good in the grumpy neighbor and difficult family member. We are asked to pray for those that aren’t nice to us. We grit our teeth and try to work with that difficult supervisor. Every day, life presents challenges that when we respond to them at face value leave us angry, stressed, resentful and oftentimes bitter. Life is more than unfair – it can be downright cruel.
As we search scripture for words of comfort and love we also find a God who is teaching us to change our perspective and focus. When we allow God’s love to enter our sphere, we see the wounds and pain that cause people to strike out; we see the losses that have colored their internal skies not only gray but black. And we can appreciate the loving traits as well as the struggles of our spouse, children and co-workers. And in so doing, we can offer a new perspective to their day – that bright spot of love that changes another’s gray existence of hopelessness and despair to bright colors of hope and peace.