by Donna Lee SchillingerThe sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!” or “I will be murdered in the streets!” Proverbs 22:13
Watching a little more TV in these colder months? Would you like to do something a little more exciting? Before you answer, consider this: Most toddlers learn to say “no” before they say “yes.” They seem to prefer using the word “no” even after they learn to say “yes” (maybe because it’s the word they hear said to them most often). I tried not to overuse “no” in teaching and disciplining my daughter but she certainly preferred “no” as well. I called it her “default no” because of how quickly and easily it fell off her lips. Toddlers grow out of that “no” stage, but in many ways, we retain a “default no” attitude throughout life – some of us more than others. “No” thinking seems to be natural, and like many other aspects of our humanity, it’s something we have to overcome with the marvelous conscious thought with which God has blessed us.
Just as we can use positive thinking as a tool to lead a joyful life and reach our full potential, we can use negative thinking to get us out of a lot of things we just don’t want to do.
A couple of weeks ago, I went hiking with a group from our church. The short trail had a lot of interesting rock formations and they begged to be climbed. They were big, lumpy rocks that were easy enough to scale. Everyone was climbing – even our little lapdog we had brought with us! I was about to go up to join my daughter and husband at the top when a young lady offered to keep my dog for me while I climbed. I asked why she wasn’t going to climb and she responded that her sister-in-law’s sister had just been in a climbing accident in which she had shattered her ankle. “I don’t want to end up like that,” she said. She was using negative thinking as an excuse not to engage in life.
As a former Peace Corps volunteer, I hear a lot of stories like that. If I’m talking to someone and it comes out that I was in the Peace Corps, very often the response is, “Oh, I always wanted to do something like that,” followed by some usually non-reason why they failed to engage in life.
It takes a healthy measure of self-esteem to try something like the Peace Corps or shimmying up a rock formation. It also takes a desire to overcome inertia! Often, we don’t lack the self-esteem, we just lack the steam. It’s so much easier to sit in a low-risk environment and be entertained. But the only thing we develop in front of a television is a mind full of plots, jokes and trivia. We don’t make friends in front of a TV. We don’t develop character in front of a TV; we aren’t about the work of our Heavenly Father in front of a TV.
How much time do you spend in front of a TV? That’s the same amount of time you’re missing out on other things in life that pay much richer dividends than a big win in Trivial Pursuit. Can’t think of anything to do besides watch TV? How about a book? Reading is entertainment too, but it engages your mind in action in a way TV doesn’t and it builds your vocabulary. Switching a book for the boob tube a few nights a week is easy enough, but how about trying getting involved in something with other people in exchange for one or two nights a week of TV? If you do a little digging, you’ll be amazed to learn of the myriad of things you can become involved in – whatever your level of ability or mobility and even in small communities and without spending a dime. Engaging – becoming involved in life – makes living a lot more enjoyable. So the next time you receive a decent proposition to do something that requires more than blinking, try saying “Yes!”Hold this thought: I’m going to stop making excuses, get off my lazy butt and do something interesting in life. Donna Lee Schillinger is editor of the recent anthology Purity’s Big Payoff/Premarital Sex is a Big Rip-off, winner of the 2012 Christian Small Publisher’s Book of the Year. In 2008 she founded On My Own Now Ministries to encourage faith, wise life choices and Christ-likeness in young adults. On My Own Now publishes the free, monthly online magazines, Single! Young Christian Woman and Genuine Motivation: Young Christian Man.