Karen Gibson: The power of optimism

The economy affects the minds of many people in our area. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I said that many of us go and get the morning Craig Daily Press to see if there is any new word on an oil or gas company increasing drilling, pumping or building a lot more wells in Moffat County. As one drives or walks around Craig, we notice that real estate signs in some yards have disappeared, while others pop up in someone else’s yard. I don’t even have to turn on the radio or the television to hear about other fearful concerns that might be happening in the nation or the world. Unless you don’t listen to radio or television, the news we hear affects our thoughts, how we react to situations and our spiritual well-being.

I have come to realize that optimism or positive thinking breeds positive thinking. It is really easy to find topics about which to complain. I usually fall into the chasm of complaining before I realize it. And I don’t even have go by myself, others go right along with me. Yes, it seems as though we can connect with each other quite well when it comes to finding something to complain about. I have a clergy colleague that gave me a purple rubber bracelet a few years ago. You know which kind I’m talking about; you may have a couple of them yourself. This bracelet says on it “A Complaint Free World.org.”

I can’t help but recall my friend, Norman Vincent Peale, who recognized long ago that the way we think can change the world. I call Mr. Peale my friend, because his book, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” changed my life and that’s what friends help us do. In the New Testament, James speaks about taming the tongue, “We all make mistakes often, but those who don’t make mistakes with their words have reached full maturity. Like a bridled horse, they can control themselves entirely. When we bridle horses and put bits in their mouths to lead them wherever we want, we can control their whole bodies. Consider ships: they are so large that strong winds are needed to drive them. But pilots direct their ships wherever they want with a little rudder. In the same way, even though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts wildly. Think about this: a small flame can set a whole forest on fire. The tongue is a small flame of fire,” James 3: 3-6a.

James says more about the tongue, but this is enough to be reminded that the tongue can be very powerful (and dangerous).

We all have the choice to be positive and optimistic or to be negative and live out of our fears. Each day we face challenges that may make us feel sad, disappointed, hopeless, angry or fearful, but Jesus came to walk with us. When someone starts complaining, I am going to say “why don’t we pray about that?” Here is a prayer from a Celtic Prayer Book, “Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.” And maybe I should put the metal token back in my pocket that I received on St. Patrick’s Day, that says: “Christ above me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ around me, Christ below me, Christ within me.”

Amen.

Karen Gibson is co-pastor of Friendship United Methodist Church

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