Is the glass half-empty or half-full? My own tendency is to see the glass as half-empty, and suspect that the other half full of some kind of odorless, tastelss clear toxic chemical.
Some pretty serious things have happened in the last few days:
– A freakish series of events in the last week may (?) have deep-sixed the publication of the book manuscript I just finished.
– My husband was in a car accident. The other person involved in the accident has already retained a lawyer.
– One of my children has made a very hurtful, painful choice that reads like rejection to me.
– Our church situation continues to be a source of sorrow and dysfunction, not community. We are weary at constantly grubbing around for ad hoc community. It’s better than nothin’, but it ain’t what we know it should be.
Yes, it could always be worse. All of it could be a heckuva lot worse. No one is hurt (my husband is just fine – not even a sore neck) or sick or in jail or in imminent danger. But those sorts of comparisons don’t really help at all. “It could always be worse”, the words of the half-full-glass people, throw circumstances into some sort of a comparison mode. Those comparisons actually tend to make people feel like their tsuris (Yiddish for troubles) shouldn’t matter. But tsuris happens. And stuffing them, or ignoring them, or saying that things could be much worse tends to make me feel much worse because I start to feel like a gigantic wimp.
When I have attempted to count my blessings as a way to assuage my woes, I grit my teeth, start listing them, and then deteriorate into a puddle of self-pity.
You know what actually seems to change me?
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8
The Greek word for “think” here is logizomai. It carries the sense of numbering, or accounting for, gathering. Counting my blessings doesn’t work. But “counting Him” – numbering the Immeasurable, pondering all that He is: true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy – this changes me. Centers me. Shelters me. Aims my life away from me…and this…toward Him. He is wonderful, and worthy of every praise I can offer Him. (Somehow, I wonder if the praise that rises to Him when things aren’t so good smells different to Him…?)
The glass is empty – poured out as an offering. The glass is full – overflowing.