Was my decision to become a Christian not the beginning?
I have written about my decision to become a Christian in my first year at university. I used to think that was the beginning. Nowadays, I look further back in my life. This does not reduce the importance of that decision or take anything away from those who influenced me at the time, and since. It just puts it all in context.
Was there a beginning during the year before my decision?
Just before I went to university, I saw the musical Fiddler on the Roof. I was impressed by the way the main character (a Jew – not a Christian) spoke to God casually, honestly and often irreverently, like an old friend. His religion was an important part of his life, but it wasn’t just the official side, it was a relationship. I also remember seeing a debate on TV where someone said people always believe what they want to believe: what makes them feel comfortable. In reply, an elderly clergyman said there were times in his life when he had wished God didn’t exist. He had been tempted to give up, but he didn’t because he knew God was real. That stuck in my mind.
Did school help or hinder the beginning of faith?
When I first became a Christian, I began to learn about the faith and I realised how little I had learnt in RI or RE and through assemblies. I had taken History as one of my A-levels, and during one term we had specialised in the Reformation. We so concentrated on the economic and political factors that little of the religious aspect came through. In the long run, that was useful, as it helped me put things in context, but it played no part in moving me along the road to faith.
Did my faith not have a beginning at home?
My parents were not atheists, but we went to church only occasionally. They didn’t talk about it much. However, an old lady who was a close friend of my parents, was a Methodist, and did talk about it sometimes. I don’t remember much detail, but know it meant something to her.
When was the beginning, out of all these moments, and what came next?
I don’t know, but I suspect they all had a cumulative influence on me. Of course, my decision to follow Christ was in itself a beginning rather than an end. I will write about the next milestones on my journey in a future blog.
Negativity is a state of mind, which includes pessimism and blame, low expectations, beating yourself up and passing the buck. You can easily fall into it, but people find they can’t climb out of it so easily.
What has negativity got to do with depression?
As I have said before, you can talk yourself into being depressed, if you see only the worst in situations, in other people and in yourself. It generates anxiety and stress, making you feel worse. You can suffer at least some of the pain for something that hasn’t happened yet and might not, because you convince yourself it will. Perhaps you fail to see the upside of failures, mistakes and setbacks, and, rather than learning from them, you wallow in them.
Where does negativity come from?
There are three main sources:
and your environment
What can you do about negativity?
You might think your personality is fixed, but you can change if you want to, if you are aware. Decide to reject negativity and look for the upside. Forgive others, forgive yourself, learn your lessons, move on.
Re-evaluate bad experiences and learn from them. Don’t accept that the past controls the future, but think how you could act or react differently next time.
Try to avoid negative people. That’s not always easy, if you’ve got a lot of negative colleagues, relatives or friends, but try to mix with a few more positive types when you can. Also, try to take negative comments with a pinch of salt, whether they are about you, about others or about life.
I have become more positive since I left work in a corporate environment, where most of us didn’t make important decisions. Since then, I have got involved with self-employed people, who accept responsibility for whatever happens and see opportunities rather than problems everywhere.
When you feel yourself getting depressed, make an effort to think more positively. General Bill Slim led the British Army in Burma in World War II. He always said things weren’t as bad as they looked, although they looked pretty bad, most of the time. Slim kept up his own spirits and those of others. Looking back, we can see that he was right. Things were not quite as bad as they looked. They seldom are.