In the den of the home in which I grew up in North Carolina was a picture that always made me feel gloomy. The den itself, perhaps a smaller version of today's great room, was a happy place where we children studied and all members of the family played games or listened to the radio. Yet, that one picture made me want to look the other way.
Imagine my surprise one day when I walked into the den and found that Mother had bought a new frame, and the entire picture seemed appealing. Actually, the picture hadn't changed, but the new frame caused me to see it with a new perspective.
Individually, we can reframe our lives. The difficult places may remain, but if we reframe the situation, we begin to see possibilities. In Isaiah 43:19, God says, "Behold I am doing a new thing. Lo, it springs forth. Do you not perceive it?"
One of the reasons we don't reframe is that we stay focused on what we have lost, or fear the future or the hurt, and don't look for the new thing God is doing. My current situation is a good example - compound fractures in my right leg from a fall on the ice, requiring weeks of therapy. Like the picture on the wall, the situation looked gloomy and unhappy.
Only when I accepted the facts of the situation, instead of fighting it and asking "Why?" could I see new possibilities - meeting new and interesting people, finding I can meet more physical challenges in therapy than I believed possible, even receiving an idea for a new book. The choice was mine. I could whine or reframe. I chose the latter (most of the time).
I began by feeling great gratitude for the faithfulness of my family in the midst of my daughter-in-law's battle with cancer, the graciousness of friends expressed in cards, visits, telephone calls, prayers, and the most amazing Sunday School class, where members have taken more than their share of responsibility to keep the class vibrant and full each Sunday.
There is a second thought pattern that keeps us from reframing - a negative frame of mind or letting daily irritations blind us to possibilities. Once on a Piedmont flight, I was reading their magazine and found an article written by a Methodist bishop I knew. Bishop Ernest Fitzgerald told of going home and finding a new suit his wife had bought on approval for him. He didn't even try it on. He didn't like the color or lines of the suit. He asked his wife to return it.
The following day had been less stressful for him. On returning home, he saw that his wife had exchanged the suit. When he tried it on, he said, "This is exactly what I like." Smiling, his wife said, "It's the same suit that was hanging there yesterday." The only difference was his frame of mind. The irritations of the day before kept him from reframing.
Nell Mohney is a Christian author, motivational speaker and seminar leader. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.