There have been times in my life where I was the poster girl for positivity. It was not that I never felt negative emotions rather I felt like as a Christian I was supposed to always be positive with a smile on my face acting like all is perfect in the world. Similarly I find it really hard to make friends when you are not being positive. Not many people are willing to befriend a negative, depressed person. I think it also came from a mentality in my family called “mind over matter.” Its a favorite saying of my father and brother. The thought that you can change reality by simply ignoring the facts and toughing it out. That is not healthy.
Positivity is a great thing. There are actual scientific studies that show positive people are more likely to recover from illness. By being positive all the time and ignore the ugliness of life I stored up a lot of well let’s just call it what it is “shit,” pardon my French. But the Bible is full of scriptures telling us to rejoice, be anxious for nothing, have joy in suffering. So how do we do these things but not store up the “shit.”
I was confused about how to rejoice and praise God but also not have a fake positivity where I simply ignored the honest truth of bad, ugly things in my life and this world as a whole. The answer that came to me is the compliment sandwich. This is also the pattern I see in the psalms of David.
So here is what I concluded. My sandwich starts with a piece of bread which is me having gratitude for all the wonderful blessings in my life and thanking God for his goodness. Then I have the meat and cheese where I tell God about all the shit in my life, I may even yell, cry, get angry and ask WHY GOD. Then I finish it with another piece of bread where I thank God for his love, sovereignty, grace, forgiveness and ask his will be done in my life and this world.
The amazing thing about God is he can take it all. He can take all the anger, frustration and pain. For many people have reprimanded me for having a temper tantrum but God never has because when I finally stop yelling at him he says, “my dear child, I can take it all, you are safe in my arms, I will love you always, just do not walk away from me.”
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9