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  • Writer's pictureBecky Proctor

Susie Sunshine or Debbie Downer, the choice

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. I grinned as I donned my new “I Just Want to Do Yoga and Pet My Dog” t-shirt. I was taking Dixie for her morning walk, during which I planned refine my thoughts for today’s blog post regarding silence.

God had another idea.

Strolling along at a leisurely pace, I watched an unfamiliar woman approaching at a clip, out for a morning power walk. Her face was open and friendly. Just as we smiled and exchanged hellos, a pickup truck for a paving contractor, full of men in fluorescent yellow vests and orange traffic cones, passed between us.

“Look at that,” she yelled to me, never missing a step. “It’s empty. They’re supposed to be driving through the neighborhood picking up stuff.” She gave a disgusted “hrumph” as she disappeared out of sight.

Freeze frame.

I am standing there like a cartoon character. Didn't she see the asphalt company logo on the truck doors? Didn't she realize she had just walked past a paving project at the opposite end of the street? Why the contempt for city employees? Did she get up on the wrong side of the bed? Did she feel better after complaining to me, or would she carry the attitude throughout her day?

Momentarily taken aback, I recovered and said a quick prayer for her, this stranger, that her anger might quickly and harmlessly dissipate.

Again, like a cartoon character, I used my hands to brush her negativity off my arms, my chest, my ears and my head, trying to rid myself of her disgruntled attitude. (I’d seen other yoga teachers do this before, so I thought I would give it a try. Plus, there were no other people on the street.)

Then it occurred to me. I do the same thing. Often I make conversation using complaints, grumblings, and negative observations.

On one occasion, I felt a subtle unsettled vibe coming from someone within earshot and I felt ashamed and reigned myself in.

Then I forgot about how that felt and went back to doing it again.

“But, but, but ….” I hear a little voice in my head saying, “It’s the norm. Everyone does it.”

I tried that excuse as a teenager. It didn’t work with my parents. I doubt it works with God, either.

Because of God’s immeasurable love and mercy, I, as a Christian, am called to rise above the crowds, to be more than a grumbler and not settle into habits of first world gripers. I am called to spread love and light, not anger and vitriol.

Life is short and full of distractions. I want to be Pollyanna and Susie Sunshine. Not Debbie Downer.

I want to change the atmosphere around me. I no longer want to contribute to fear, anger and angst. I want people to be drawn to me, not because of me, but because of the God Who loves me. I want then to feel valued and precious. I want them to absorb my love and encouragement and, in turn, pass them on to others.

That's what I can do and what I must do.

This really isn’t my dress rehearsal. So I ask myself, "If not today, then when?"

Lord, it’s painful to look at my own faults, but thank You for putting them in front of me. Surround me with people who lovingly nudge me when worldly attitudes issue from my lips. Let me be a force for good and for Your glory. Amen.

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