August 2023- “What are we looking for?”
I’m sitting at my breakfast table and pondering what to share with you guys, and I started to chuckle at the memory of a childhood story Larry shared with me years and years ago about him and Kenny.
This story actually made it into the book he wrote about his life with his brother Kenny. BTW the book is not available for purchase right now. It’s something I am working on. One of the chapters in the book is called “I See the devil”. It was a game that Larry and Kenny played as kids to try to scare each other. This was in the 1960s, and most people didn’t think anything about playing scary games back then. In fact, people would tell each other ghost stories, and Halloween was considered fun, and even churches would have spook houses in them. So keep that in mind as you read this story.
I will tell you the short version of the story…. Kenny and Larry were playing outside and trying to figure out something to do and Kenny said “Why don’t we play the game “I see the devil” and try to scare each other?” Larry agreed, and they began. So they started creeping around the yard, mind you this was in broad daylight, and began pointing into bushes or around the corner of the house, and saying the words “I see the devil, he’s over there!” They would run and laugh, and scream, and yell, but mostly laugh. Kenny had decided to creep around the other side of the old shed and told Larry to stay where he was. With in just a few moments Kenny came screaming from around the other side of the shed saying “I saw him, I saw him!” For some reason, as kids will do, Larry wanted to see for himself, because he wasn’t sure if Kenny was being honest but at the same time Larry was very scared, because Kenny looked terrified. So they both crept around the side of the shed and peering through the window, which was covered with chicken wire, and not glass, they both saw glowing eyes! The eyes were seeming to float to one side of the window to the other side of the window, then the eyes started moving up and down. Then suddenly the eyes disappeared. That’s when Kenny and Larry scream to the top of her lungs, and ran into the house, tripping, pushing each other, trying to see which one could get to safety first.
Their mother Stella, yelled at them to stop tearing up the house because she knew if they continue to do that they would break something. She noticed how scared they both looked and asked what they were doing. They really didn’t want to tell her, but Larry began the story first and Kenny quickly interrupted him saying “Oh we were just playing. We were just trying to scare each other, but we were just playing mom.” She excepted that response from Kenny and went about doing her household chores. But then she asked a question to both boys, she said “has either of you seen my cat? I have not seen her all day.” Kenny and Larry looked at each other and realized the glowing eyes they saw in the shed window was their mamas cat. They got a big kick out of that and start teasing each other about being scared of the cat, thinking it was, the Devil.
Larry said he learned a valuable lesson that day. If you’re going to look for something negative or bad, you will probably find it.
I thought of that story this morning and relating it to our lives, I thought I would share it with you. I’ve noticed how as humans, on occasion we look for the bad, and not for the good in others. There’s a statement that says “frustrated people can’t see the good in another’s mainly because they can’t see the good in themselves so they criticize and pick out the bad in other people“.
I’m sure we all know someone who is always dwelling on others shortcomings or they see negativity in most circumstances and they may even have a negative attitude about life. Psychologist call this Negative Bias. It is dwelling on an insult or fixating on a mistake or a criticism done to them by another person. Psychologist say that negative events have greater impact on our brains than positive ones. These negative events can have a powerful affect on your behavior your decisions and relationships. They say that we can have thousands of great memories and 10 bad ones and those are the ones we focus on if we are operating in Negative Bias. So psychologist say to help ourselves stop focusing on the negative things, we need to redirect our attention to something more positive and to get our mind on good things. They suggest going for a walk, listening to upbeat music, or reading a good book. But looking at a spiritual side, not just the psychological side, when we remember a bad situation, something hateful someone said to us, or something that hurt us or caused us pain, then when we go for a walk we should look at God’s creation and or pray, if we listen to music, let it be gospel music, or if we decide to read, let’s read the Bible or a good Christian self-help book.
Psychologically speaking , negative events weigh three times more than positive events. I think that’s why the Bible says in Proverbs 12:25 “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down but a good word makes him glad.” Philippians chapter 4 verse 8 says, “Finally believers, Whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable, and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things, [center your mind on them, and plant them in your heart].
The way our world is right now, where people say “hey, I’m just keeping it real“ so they say hurtful things or they put passive aggressive posts on social media, telling you off or berating you without calling you out by name, it can be a real struggle to ‘not’ focus on those negative words or attitudes people have toward us. But we have a choice, we can look for the good in others or we can look for the bad. I choose to look for the good, I choose to look past the words to the heart, I choose to look through the eyes of Christ, and do my best to love others, as I want them to love me.
I will end this months article with the thought, if you are looking for something bad, or negative or evil, you will probably find it. But let us look with purpose, toward God, his love, his kindness, his righteousness, and then do our best to look for it in others.