By Tracie Miles, Crosswalk.com
Life as I knew it had ended, and I had a choice to make. I could either let my circumstances dictate my joy and happiness going forward, or I could intentionally choose to be positive and refuse to sink under the weight of negativity.
That may have been the most important decision I’ve ever faced.
After nearly 26 years of marriage, my husband and I abruptly separated. The heartache and devastation were overwhelming, and I spent the following few months in a puddle of tears, negative thoughts, rejection, and hopelessness. My vision of what the future was supposed to look like was wiped away in an instant, and my losses seemed to keep piling up. My fears about the uncertain future seemed innumerable, and I was consumed with worry for my children and how the separation might affect their hearts.
With each passing day, I felt the toxicity of negativity, hopelessness, fear, and pessimism seeping deeper into my heart. I felt as if I were stuck in a whirlpool, slowly being pulled under by the weight of my thoughts, yet desperately longing to be free and happy again. A tsunami had slammed into my reality, and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t stop sinking into sadness and, at times, even struggling with depression.
Several months later, the day finally came when my emotional and mental exhaustion seemed overwhelming. It was as if I was being robbed of all joy and happiness. I realized it wasn’t just my circumstances doing the stealing, but my thoughts about those circumstances.
I was fed up with feeling sad and hopeless. I was tired of assuming the future couldn’t be bright simply because the present was difficult. I was frustrated with wishing I could change the way things were while knowing I had no power over my situation or other people. I knew I needed to be a role model for my children and that my attitude (positive or negative) would permeate theirs. I also knew I needed to put my hope in God, trusting not only was He able to heal broken hearts and broken relationships but that, no matter what, I could have peace and joy if I intentionally invited Him to help me with my thoughts.
After some deep time in prayer and thought, I realized I didn’t want to spend my life being bitter and negative. I certainly did not want to be the kind of person who always saw the glass half-empty instead of half-full, inadvertently overlooking her blessings because of the bitter blinders on her heart. I had never been that type of person before, I became determined I was never going to be. I made a commitment to myself that even if life was hard, I would not let my heart get hard with it. It was time for a change, and I was ready.
I got on my knees and had a long conversation with Jesus, full of honest questions, anger, pleas, and tears. Then I sensed His voice whispering a gentle question to my spiritual ears, “Will you still love Me, Tracie?” Without hesitating, my answer was “I still love You, Lord.” Realizing I loved Jesus, despite what He had allowed in my life, gave me a renewed sense of hope. Not only in Him but also in myself.
I knew it would not be easy, but I grabbed hold of the hope, peace, and reassurance He was offering and committed to holding on as tightly as I could. As His peace washed over me, I latched onto His promise that despite my circumstances and hardships, living a life of joy and positive thinking was within my reach, and that the first step of the journey had to be taken inside my own head. I had no control over my circumstances, but I could take control over my thoughts about them. I knew I needed to begin shifting my thoughts so that they didn’t control my life any longer.
My heart lightened when I surrendered my negativity and committed to trusting God through this storm. I realized optimism and positive thinking were still within my reach because I had the power within me through Christ to choose to be positive, despite my circumstances. I merely had to make an intentional effort to do so. When I did, my whole perspective and outlook completely changed.
My circumstances stayed the same, but over time, my thoughts and my heart did not. Although it turned out not to be in God’s plans for my husband and I to experience restoration in our marriage, the restoration that He did in my mind and in my soul changed my life.
If you’re going through a time of marital difficulty, whether it be separation, divorce, or just a season of discord and hurt, how might your peace and happiness improve if you began to think differently? It may seem impossible to think positively and optimistically in the face of circumstances that leave you brokenhearted and afraid, but all things are possible in Christ. When you change your mind, He can change your life.
A positive mind will lead to a positive life, even when life is hard. God has a positive life waiting for you. All you have to do is embrace it, and open the door for transformation, one positive thought at a time.
Tracie Miles is passionate about inspiring women to deepen their relationship with Christ and live a life of joy, peace and happiness despite their circumstances. She is a speaker and writer with Proverbs 31 Ministries and enjoys sharing at women’s events around the country. She is the author of three books, including her latest release Unsinkable Faith: God-Filled Strategies to Transform the Way You Think, Feel, and Live.
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