Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Putting on My Big Girl Panties

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29

If Monday mornings aren’t difficult enough already, starting one out with a massive migraine headache made it even tougher for me to drag myself out of bed at the beginning of this week. In all truthfulness, I didn’t.

As I pressed my fingers into my temple and the back of my neck, hoping to apply enough pressure to stop the painful pulsating in my veins that made my head want to explode, my astute husband could tell I wasn’t faking “sick” and without a word, he got my daughter ready and over to her elementary school. It was at least another hour before my body recovered enough for me to open my eyes and be willing to face the world. “Thank goodness I’m married and self-employed!” I thought to myself, as I rolled over and looked at the clock. Nine-thirty.

Even with the late start, I would have been more than happy to have spent the day in bed. My head was still throbbing, albeit more subtly, and my body felt as if it were recovering from an automobile accident. I hurt. Everywhere.

When I finally did get up and over to my home office, I did my usual quick Facebook check and thought about what I would post as a status update. “Migraines suck,” I typed. I was sure I would get a lot of sympathy “likes” on that post, especially from fellow migraine sufferers. But then, I stopped. I thought for a minute. What if…? “What if I do something different today?” I asked myself. Not to take away from my “be real” philosophy, but I decided to step out of my pain and into the shoes of my friends. What did they need today? To hear my complaints, or to find something uplifting in what I had to share? What if I made a conscious choice to focus on the good and only to let positivity pass through my lips…for one whole day?

I thought about a couple of Bible verses related to this. “Only (say) what is helpful for building others up according to their needs…“ (Ephesians 4:29) andThink about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.” (Philippians 4:8).

“OK, God,” I prayed. “We’ll try it your way this time.”

Taking a cue from the verse in Philippians, to dwell on the good things in others, I deleted my yet unpublished “Migraines suck” status and replaced it with a challenge to my Facebook friends. “Who all is excited that it’s Monday? Anyone got big plans this week? If you’ve got good news or you’re just happy it’s the beginning of a new week, share it!”

The response was exactly what I needed. Instead of just “likes” on the post, my friends shared all kinds of exciting news. Soon, I was smiling too! Their good news took me out of my pain and into their joy. Huh! This little social experiment was starting to pay some dividends.

The day progressed, from one event to the next. Work in the morning. Lunch with my mother and friends. Errands in the afternoon. My daughter’s school play that evening. No matter how I felt (as my headache turned to nausea), I was determined to keep going and to put forth a smile when I encountered others.  I listened more intently. I encouraged more fervently. I empathized more joyfully. Did my pain and illness go away? No. But did my outlook improve? You bet it did. When I took the focus off me, then I was able to experience more of the beauty in others. And by the end of the day, I was able to count more of my own blessings as well!

Oftentimes, no matter what kind of pain we are going through, we are faced with having to “put our big girl (or boy) pants on” and do what we need to do, regardless. We don’t have the option of putting our life on hold or taking endless sick days. Life goes on. Our lives need to go on! It is on those days that it’s to our benefit to hold tight to those words of Scripture which encourage us to focus on the good – even if that means focusing entirely on others. After all, misery doesn’t really love company, does it? But rather, joy begets joy! And all the while, God’s grace abounds and we find ourselves blessed.
Where are you in your pain today? Are you able to take your mind off it for a little while, so that you can take in the joy that others can share with you? Take a moment to ask God to give you the strength to do what you need to do today, and to give you the opportunity to experience His grace and love through others you encounter along the way.

Putting on My Big Girl Panties originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins.  Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

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