Just because this week’s “Think Right Thursday,” just happens to fall on St. Patrick’s Day, it would be an obvious choice to make this a blog about him, right?
That’s the silliest thing I ever heard.
NO NO NO!
This week’s blog is about YOU. Just you.
And also about how St. Patrick’s story can inspire you to get through your tough time.
But mostly about YOU.
A Little Background That You Might Not Have Heard Before
Sometime around 400 AD, Maewyn Succat was born in the United Kingdom. His parents were Roman citizens, and may have been in some position of authority of the Roman colony in Britain. If the VeggieTales account of his life is accurate (and I believe it is), he was abducted by pirates as a boy and sold as a slave in Ireland. Over the next several years, he tended pigs and sheep, learned to speak Irish, and had a life-defining moment, where he committed the rest of his life to God. One night, he was led in a dream to run away to the coast, where he took a ship back to Britain to find his parents.
At that point, he moved to France and studied to become a Christian priest, and eventually a bishop (which is like a regional manager for priests). He took on the name of Patrick, because…sometimes…uh…high-ranking church officials like to assign new names to each other. I’m sure there’s a good reason.
Some years later, he was led by another dream to return to Ireland and preach the Gospel. He evangelized thousands of people and planted churches around the Emerald Isle until his death, some 40 years later. Later on, he was canonized by the Catholic Church and given the title “Saint.”
It’s a great true story, and in spite of all the legends and embellishments that have emerged over the centuries, this synopsis includes the handful of story elements most people agree to be accurate.
What does that have to do with you? After all, this “Think Right Thursday” is about YOU, not him.
The thing I want you to take away from Maewyn’s story is that he overcame his adversity and changed the world. He could have given up after he was abducted. Who could have blamed him? Being kidnapped is extremely traumatic. Being sold as a slave is humiliating. Living with pigs is no way to grow up.
He could have grown bitter and angry, and everyone would have understood. I bet hundreds or thousands of other young boys in that era suffered a similar fate, and just gave up on life. But what set Maewyn (Patrick) apart was that he chose to rise above his circumstances. He trusted his life to God. He worked hard and diligently, serving his masters to the point that he learned their language fluently. A bitter, resistant slave doesn’t go to that trouble; he just does what is necessary to avoid a beating or death.
The only thing that can enable a person to rise above trauma and live again is a decision to be positive in it.
You have to decide that you want to go on.
I have had plenty of opportunities to walk away from my practice, I lost a marriage, and I have lost good friends. There have plenty of days when I didn’t want to get out of bed.
But then I got out of bed.
Getting out of bed is a decision to take an action. It’s a step forward. If you’re in a place where getting out of bed doesn’t seem possible anymore, get out of bed. It’s only one step, but it’s one step.
If you can take one step, you can take another.
I’ve seen people who stood in the shower and cried because they were too beat up to even make a decision about what to wear. I’m serious. They were so wounded and so broken and so overwhelmed by life that they couldn’t process even the most simple decisions. Friend, that’s a nervous breakdown. If you’re there, I’m sorry. I don’t have any idea what to say in a moment like that except that I hurt for you. Talk to someone. Call my office if you can’t find anyone else. I’m not a counselor, but I know how to listen and pray.
Anyway, if you can take just one step forward, give yourself a hand. Celebrate your small success and then go get the next one. Victories are made of small successes.
What Can You Control?
Maewyn decided to turn his attention from the problem he couldn’t control to the things he COULD control – his attitude, his work ethic, his interactions with other people.
He made a decision to stay positive because that was a choice he had the right to make. Even when all other choices were taken away from him.
In order to choose to stay positive, you need faith. Faith is not some spooky religious thing. Faith is believing what you can’t see but you know is real. Faith affects your behavior. If you believe that a 500-pound man living at the North Pole with flying deer and a bag of toys can see how you act during the month of December, it affects your behavior.
If you can believe that a positive outcome is possible, you can start to believe that God, the Universe, Karma, or whatever name you want to assign will work things out on your behalf. Even if you only believe in your own ability to rise above your circumstances, you still have faith.
Of course, you’re too mature and sophisticated for that kind of thing. But when you place an order on Amazon, you start watching the door, don’t you? You have faith. What are you using it for?
Maewyn used his faith in the goodness of God to direct his actions. If God was going to be kind to him, he could make the best of his current circumstances. So he did.
But this isn’t about him. It’s about you.
What About You?
You have every right to get down about something in your life. I think most people would understand if you just gave up the ship in that one area of your life. Maybe it’s a real doozy.
But is that the way you want your life to go? Is that how you want your story to be written? That you gave up when things got tough? That you just shrugged and backed away when things looked hopeless?
Show me one person who changed the world by giving up when things looked bad. You know better than that.
Make a list of the things you can control.
Here, I’ll do it for you: you can choose what you think, your attitude, how you respond to circumstances, what you say, how you treat people, how you feel about your lot in life, and what you make of it. You may not have put yourself in the situation you are in, but you are 100 percent responsible for where you go from here. Will you let this moment define you? Is this who you want to be from now on?
Rise up by controlling what you can control and let the rest be what it is. Decide now that, no matter what else you might lose, and no matter what anyone else might do, as long as you are breathing, you have a choice to be positive, and you can make that choice if you want to.
Are you getting this?
I am. I am talking to myself here, I hope it’s helping you.
If you know someone else who might need to hear this, take six seconds to share it on Facebook or Twitter. You might be surprised at who needed this today. Starting with me.
“At the end of feelings is NOTHING. At the end of principles (including the principle of choosing your attitude) is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas