“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.” – Anne Frank
I recently have been finding all sorts of encouragement and insight through the words written by young Anne Frank. I cannot imagine the stress she endured in her families position, yet she wrote so many beautiful and insightful thoughts. You can read some of my favorites rounded up here.
Though I am not in her position (obviously and thankfully!), I do learn every day about horrible, ugly things going on in our world right now – even right in my community. When I read the news I can become stressed and overwhelmed. However, this response is not productive and I am fairly certain it’s bad for my health.
So what do you do instead? Follow Ms, Frank’s advice and focus on the beauty.
To me, focusing on the beauty looks like this:
Anne Frank didn’t say “pretend it isn’t happening,” she says don’t think on it. Reminds me of 1 Peter 5:7, “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Just today I learned about fatal car accidents, uncertainties with our government, we passed the one year anniversary of the kidnapping of the Nigerian girls and 219 are still missing. Unfortunately, that is just scraping the surface. Instead of allowing my anxiety level to rise, I chose to give each situation up to God in prayer. Never underestimate the power of prayer. I pray for those involved, I pray for peace, for wisdom, for Jesus’ love to carve new paths and heal gaping wounds. I can’t be the answer in all of these situations, but I serve a God who can be.
And thank God the world is full of physical beauty – landscapes, architecture, people, etc – but ugly things can still happen within those walls and between those people. The beauty I am talking about here is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Not only do we give the ugly to God in prayer, but we are capable of putting this beauty back out into the world when we spend time in prayer.
I have the power to do what I can do. That sounds silly – but it’s a hard truth. Most of us desire vibrant, loving communities yet we haven’t done what we can do towards creating that. We can begin doing this by creating the habit of serving others in our own lives. Whether this looks like participating in outreach through your local church, or walking in the door of the closest school, hospital or homeless shelter and asking how you can be of service, make the choice to build your community. If this is totally foreign to you, start small! You may think two hours a month is not significant, but the person you’re helping would disagree.
Last but not least, chose gratitude. Have you ever heard the phrase what you focus on grows? Or maybe the thought that you can’t just remove a negative thought, but you should replace it with a positive one? Last year a girlfriend of mine introduced me to the idea of taking the first five minutes at my desk each morning to write down 5 things I am currently grateful for. They don’t need to be deep thoughts because maybe today you are just really grateful to have a coffeemaker. At any rate, the purpose is to create a focus of gratitude. I have gotten out of this habit but was reminded of it again recently and it is officially being reinstated as part of my morning routine. We will see how it effects my days!
Am I alone in getting overwhelmed with the news or are there others out there like me? Hope you found this encouraing!