Who Is In Control?
Have you ever really considered that no one can control your thoughts? Oh yes, others may control your physical body. And yes, others may control even your speech. But without your consent, no one can control your thoughts.
Now let us look at some of the implications involved. If you are the only one who can control your thoughts, does not this indicate that you are the only one who can control your attitudes. You do have a choice of whether to view life with a positive or with a negative attitude. It is true you cannot control all the circumstances of your life, but you are the only one who controls your attitude toward those circumstances. You, and you only, are the one who decides whether to view the circumstances of your life with a positive or with a negative attitude. Unfortunately, many people choose to view life with a negative attitude.
But, you say, "You do not know the circumstances of my life. There is no other way to view the circumstances of my life but with a negative attitude." Wrong! There is another way.
No, I do not know the circumstances of your life. But I do know how bad life can be. I do know what it is to be raised in the ghetto and in a home in which I was not wanted. I do know that "the system" (teachers, store clerks and the law) seems against you. I do know what it is to be told, "It would be a waste of money to educate you; you will just end up washing dishes somewhere," knowing that dishwashing was the final step before hitting skidrow. I do know what it is to have a store clerk demand to see your money before showing you the merchandise you want to buy. And I know what it is to be questioned by the law just because they can tell by your clothes that you are out of your section of town. I also know what it means to be utterly without hope that those circumstances of my life would ever change for the better.
No, I do not know the circumstances of your life. But, yes, I do know much about the curves that life can throw you. And I also know what it is to handle those curves with a bitter attitude toward life. I also know what it means to carry that bitter attitude long after the circumstances of my life had changed.
I also know what it is to face the curves life throws at you with a positive attitude. I know what it is to begin to have hope of a better life after nearly 50 years, and I also know what it is to have all that hope dashed to the ground by one act of a drunk driver. I know what it is to be a honor student already accepted to a college with very high academic standards, and following the accident to realize that I could probably not even handle college work and not knowing if I would ever be better. I do know what it is to be very active (I rode a motorskooter back and forth to classes) and to wake up permanently paralyzed from my rib-cage down. I do know what it is to realize that I can never return to my own home (my small trailer will not accommodate a wheelchair). I do know what it means to learn that the drunk driver who hit me from behind only got three years in prison, while I face a life sentence in a wheelchair, possibly even confined to a nursing home for the rest of my life. Yes, I do know the curves that life can throw at you, and I also know that it is possible, no matter how bad those curves may seem, to face them with a positive attitude: "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8).
And I also know that like most things people tell you, it is easier said than done! The first step towards viewing the circumstances of life with a positive attitude is to realistically analyze those circumstances. Is there any reasonable way you can alter your circumstances? For example, suppose you and your friend have had a fight and he is totally at fault. If you really value the relationship, you go ahead and make the first move to get back together. That does not mean that you accept any blame. Just give him an opportunity to "save face". It is difficult and embarrassing for many people to acknowledge being in the wrong.
But let us be realistic. Many circumstances of life are beyond our control. What do we do then? Accept the facts as they are and go on from there! Instead of wasting energy on what you cannot do, start looking around for what you can do! For example, my spinal cord is severed. I would be wasting my energy if I spent most of my time wishing I could walk again. I never will. Instead, I am trying to strengthen those muscles I can use so I can make more efficient use of my wheelchair.
No, it is not easy to view many of the circumstances of life with a positive attitude. It takes practice. It takes hard work. And you will strike out many times. But let me ask you a question. Who is in control -- the pitcher who throws the curve ball or the batter who can hit that curve ball? Be in control of your own life! Learn to hit the curves that life throws at you!
Sandra F. Cobble
Published in The Old Paths Archive