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“Those people are idiots!” she said as soon as she got in the car. “They don’t know how to run a business.” My neighbor’s car was in the shop, so I picked her up from work one day.  “They messed up the schedule and asked me to stay later so I stayed till 4.  Now those jerks want me to stay till 8 and I refused.” She was talking about the managers at the drug store where she worked. “They said they won’t have anyone to work the register.  I said, ‘Guess what? Life ain’t fair.’”

It was only a few minutes’ drive from the drug store to the street where we lived, but it seemed like an eternity. I love my neighbor dearly, but this is the story she always tells about life, in one form or another.  Life isn’t fair.  Everyone else is an idiot. She’s not happy.

After a while, you have to realize that if you spew venom all the time, you’re also sitting in a pool of venom.  You can’t come out unscathed if you’re swimming in poison all the time.

You have to re-train your brain to stop focusing on the negative. The only way to do that is to tell a different story.

If my neighbor were really asking for advice, I’d tell her that she’s clinically depressed and really needs professional help.  I’ve told her this before and she agreed, but didn’t take the next step to see a counselor.

But she’s not asking for advice.  She’s playing the only tune she knows.  Life is bad. I’m not happy.  It’s someone else’s fault.

We’ve all been through dark days, that’s for sure, but the only time I think about hard times I’ve been through these days is to say a prayer of gratitude. The challenges were not a test, but training – a way of building resilience muscles and authenticating my compassion bona fides so it isn’t a hollow claim to say, I know how you feel.  I’ve been there. It seemed like it would never be morning again.

God always showed up to walk with me, but at one point in time, I didn’t see Him there.  I was laser-focused on what was wrong, the pile of stuff in front of me.  I can’t do this alone!  I don’t have enough! Why does this always happen to me? If only I had taken a breath and looked behind me, I would have seen that God always had my back.  All I had to do was tell a different story. I just had to close my eyes, put my hands together in prayer and sing a new song.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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