Let’s talk about antidotes. You know, something that counteracts a poison or a disease.
I still need to get to the bottom of this one: is the antidote to a jellyfish sting really urine? I don’t know which would be worse the sting or…well, never mind.
But when you travel, as I enjoy doing, to like swamps in Liberia, you worry about all kinds of things you might catch. Like malaria.
And so to prepare yourself, or maybe just to feel like you’re preparing yourself, you get a pill from your doctor before you go. A sort-of antidote. And if you’ve ever done the anti-malaria preparations, you know there are a couple of options. There are some that are pills that you take every day, and there are some that you can take just once a week.
Well, in the weeks leading up to my recent trip to West Africa, I made the decision that the weekly option was better for me. Because, well, sometimes I forget.
The downside to the weekly pill is that it comes with some potential (rare?) side effects. Nightmares. Hallucinations. And confusion. All of which is still better than Malaria, which was a very real risk in the areas I was heading. (Note to self: I’ve GOT to get a different travel agent.)
So I took the medicine as I always do. With no noticeable side effects except a few reaallly interesting dreams. But it was worth it. Side effects and all.
Now let’s talk about another antidote.
To things like cynicism. Envy. Irritability. And that overall state of grumpiness.
I’m warning you, you’re about to roll your eyes (a sure sign of at least one of the above), because this is so obvious. You ready?
It’s really difficult to be grumpy and grateful at the same time.
James 1:17 says:
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
And this from Psalm 118:4:
This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Ask yourself this:
What percentage of my prayers are spent in gratitude?
What if, instead of dreading Monday morning, we spent time thanking God that we had a job that paid the bills. What if, instead of griping about our age, or our weight, or the weather outside, we thanked Him for another day with breath in our lungs. And what if, through the hard times we could still be grateful that God was stretching us and deepening our faith.
This does not mean we naively look away from life’s struggles and responsibilities. No. But griping (or worrying) about these things will not change them. If there’s still work to do, then get after it. But before, during, and after, let’s keep re-calibrating our hearts to the God who loves us relentlessly. The God who is not finished with us. The God who has not gone anywhere.
None of this happens by accident. We have to intentionally cultivate a spirit of gratitude in our lives. But when we do, we’ve found the antidote. And the side-effects, well, they’re way better than what you hear on those pharmaceutical commercials.
In fact, this antidote may cause you to fatigue less. To smile sooner. It may cause your heart to soften and your patience to grow. There have also been reports of others being inexplicably drawn to your overall pleasantness.
Try this: Use the Notes app in your phone. Open a new page and title it “thanks.” Now, start making note, every day, of the things that you’re grateful for. Carry them around with you and when the grumpiness begins to creep in, go back to your note and reflect.