Despite all the joy and love of the Christmas season permeating our hearts and warming our souls, not everyone is optimistic about tomorrow. About next week. About next year.
In fact, I saw a recent headline (I didn't click the article) that indicated that the majority of Americans believe they're going to be unhappy in the new year.
And you know what?
I bet they will be, too.
Because it seems to me that they've already decided that's what is going to happen, and if that's what they're expecting, then that's what they are most likely to experience.
What's interesting is that someone who expects to be unhappy is more likely to overlook the good things in life because their anticipated unhappiness becomes the thing that is most real to them. You really do choose your attitude in life, regardless of circumstances, and if you've already chosen unhappiness for next year....
The truth is that we are all full of self-defeating prophecies. All of us. We have this tendency, as broken human beings, to think about the worst things as though they are the most inevitable things. We make promises to ourselves that the bad stuff will happen, and somehow, we think that our promises are more true than the promises of God Himself about things like love, life, hope, mercy, and grace.
This is why so many of us fail at our resolutions. Every year, we make resolutions with all the hope of Christmas in our hearts, all the hope that things really can be different because how could they not be with a baby in a manger. And every year, it doesn't take long before we start thinking we were stupid to make such resolutions because we know ourselves, and we know that we're never going to keep them.
We exercise for one day, then two, then three, and our muscles ache, and we remember that we have never successfully stuck with an exercise program. We're just "not capable" of it. So we start to think that we're not going to stick with this one, either. And once we know we're not going to stick with it long-term, we start wondering what difference one more day really makes. So we don't exercise today. And once we've broken it, we've broken it - see? We were right. We told ourselves we weren't going to stick with it.
We abstain from alcohol or cigarettes or drugs or porn or sugar or caffeine or whatever for one day, then two, then three, but the truth is that we really actually like those things. We like the way they make us feel. And we know that we aren't willing to go through life very long without that kind of feeling. So we decide that we're probably not going to stick with this. We can't. We're not willing. And as soon as we're not willing, we give in. Because what does one more day matter?
It happens every year, to almost every one. There comes a point where we just expect that we aren't capable of doing anything truly new, so we give up and go back to the old thing - the old thing that we've been trying to walk away from for...years. Because we do this to ourselves every year.
It's a dangerous thing, the way we let ourselves think. The way we convince ourselves that we're "just being real" about things. That we're "just being honest."
Why are we always "honest" about all the negative stuff that's killing us? Why is that "being real?"
The point is - your life can be all of the things that you believe about it. In fact, it already is. The problem is that you're just believing the wrong things.
But God has not given us a spirit of fear. Or timidity. Or anxiety. Or defeat.
What if you believed this season in His things, not yours?