My friend and her family live in an old but large and beautiful home. In the process of having the house painted, they discovered it was being destroyed by termites -- small and mostly out-of-sight creatures that worked without ceasing.
In a similar way, people often go through the crises of life with flying colors. They take time to mourn the traumas and tragedies. Yet, those same people are often being destroyed by the mental termites of negativism, fear, worry, anger and resentment. During the next few weeks, we'll look at some of these.
One of the most common is negativism. That isn't hard to understand since we are bombarded with news of violence. If we choose to fill our minds with this, we will be inundated by negativism. We will become pessimistic, unhappy people.
Several years ago, I was speaking to the Junior League of Richmond, Va. The mother of one of the members asked me if I would stay over and speak to senior adults at her church. The following day as I entered the meeting room, I was amazed at the obvious vitality and energy, especially when the hostess told me that the average age of those present was 86.
Seated by a woman in her early 80s, I said, "I like your new church. It's so beautiful." Without so much as a smile, she replied curtly, "It's too big; it cost too much money; I wasn't in favor of building it." Realizing I needed a new approach, I thought the weather would be safe, so I said, "Haven't we been having lovely weather this week?" Still without a smile, she said, "Yes, but it snowed six times this year." Subsequently, every time I said anything, she said, "Yes, but ..."
Finally, my hostess rescued me, saying, "I sat you down by Mrs. Jones because she's so negative that I thought you might help her." Wearily, I replied, "If you'd left me by her five more minutes, I couldn't have spoken." Negative people infect others with their heavy gloom.
What about you? Is there anyone who hopes they don't see you until after they have had a strong cup of coffee? Negativism is usually a thought pattern that has become habitual. Maybe you were reared in an environment where you were negatively conditioned by authority figures. You can, however, interrupt the pattern. It will take time and effort and prayers. Remember that whatever you are now, you will become more so as you get older unless you change the pattern.
If you are a bore at 20, you will be an impossible bore at 50; if you are stingy at 18, you will be a terrible tightwad at 80. When speaking to a mixed audience, I often say, "Women, there is nothing worse than an old woman who is mean, petty, whining and complaining unless it's an old man who is mean, petty, whining and complaining. Both are the crowning work of the devil!" It's time to change the pattern.
Nell Mohney is a Christian author, motivational speaker and seminar leader. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.