I pulled out of the driveway and pushed the CD into the player. Today, it wasn’t music; today, it was Norman Vincent Peale’s book, The Power of Positive Thinking. On a typical day my drive to work takes about 15 minutes but once I hit the main road, I could see traffic was not going to be smooth. Inching along, I listened to Mr. Peale’s approach to positivity, arriving at work just in time.
Once there, I began my morning routine. A co-worker exclaimed, “My, you have a positive step!” I laughed and joked, “Well, I’m listening to Norman Vincent Peale’s, The Power of Positive Thinking on CD!” Her composure changed and within a moment she began to tell me that Mr. Peale’s materials were out of date, old fashion, and biased.
Trying to stay positive I replied, “Well you can take what is good and ignore what doesn’t apply to today.” That wasn’t good enough for her and she stated, “He’s from a time when men went to work, coming home to a meal a woman put on the table.” It was obvious that this was a degrading marital responsibility to her. I thought to myself, “I put supper on the table by the time my husband comes home from work almost every night!” It’s what works in our household. I felt my positive step begin to wilt and I looked for an escape from this conversation.
My shift ended and I drove home, listening again to the book on CD. I changed into sweats and checked my emails. I had sent a friend an article that I thought she would enjoy. Sure enough, her response was there, but it wasn’t what I expected. I had sent her an article thinking she’d find it interesting, and she did, but in her reply she had dissected it and got a bit preachy. What I’d meant to be a playful, fun piece of literature seemed to have become cause for a lecture. In moments like these, I often wonder if there’s anyone out there who speaks the same language as me. I decided it was best not to reply. My positivity had left the building.
I walked to my kitchen to wash the dishes and looked out my window above the sink. There on my window, in my handwriting, was a small piece of paper I had stuck there to interrupt my view some weeks past.
I read, “Don’t let others’ bad behavior steal your joy.”
I breathed in and released it. Lord, thank you for being my joy and my strength.
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