Lighten Up! Don't Take Yourself So Seriously!

by Forshia Ross

My friend's problems were real indeed. She felt overstressed, overworked, and unappreciated. The demands of her family, her church, and herself were overwhelming. She tended to be a perfectionist, so the expectations to excel in every way were enormous. She struggled to keep up.

I knew how she felt and I tried to help her by listening, praying, and talking to her. Nothing seemed to ease her seriousness about everything. So one day I decided to try and make her laugh. I bought a pair of 'Groucho Marx glasses,' drove to her house, walked up to her front door, put the glasses on and rang the door bell. When she opened the door and saw me standing there looking ridiculous indeed, she couldn't help but laugh and laugh.

THE HEART OF THE MATTER

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

We often think of the heart as the 'feelings' part of us. But the Bible defines the heart as the mind, will, and the emotions. The Bible uses the word soul interchangeably with the heart.

The Spirit of man is that place in man reserved for God. When we invite God into our lives through Jesus Christ, His spirit takes up residence in that place reserved for Him and we become aware of Him. Where is that 'place' exactly? I don't know, but let us suffice to say that it is there. When God's spirit resides in us, it has the potential for positive influence upon our minds, wills and emotions. Of course, we not only need to initially let God in but we must continue to invite Him to influence us with His truth.

A cheerful heart chooses God's truth as a barometer for thinking and feeling. A cheerful heart allows God to turn negative situations into positive results. A cheerful heart really sees the glass of life half full instead of half empty. A cheerful heart looks outward instead of inward. A cheerful heart doesn't give up. A cheerful heart trusts God and it is evidenced in the way we think, talk, act, and feel.

SO ... GIVE ME THIS CHEERFULHEART?

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

I wish you could go to The Big Cheerful Heart Fast Food Restaurant and just order one. It would be so easy, wouldn't it? "I'd like one cheerful heart to go," I'd say. "Hold the negatives, including sour people, red lights, screaming kids, bills, slow checkout lines, etc., etc., etc.!" And, please, add a big hot fudge sundae with a cherry on top. Oh! Yes, hold the calories!"

But there are no shortcuts to a positive outlook. We can't buy a cheerful heart at the store. We can't borrow one from our neighbor. It doesn't fall down from heaven in a basket. We live in a real world that is imperfect, with real problems, heartaches, and struggles. Our cheerful heart must come through a changed perspective of our problems in view of God's truth.

Have you ever noticed that some people seem to be born with more joy genes than others? A positive outlook seems to come easier to them. Whether it's their personality or it's because they've had a better life, we sure don't like to invite them to our pity parties. They spoil all the fun. We think we would be cheerful, too, if we had their lives.

But, I wasn't always cheerful myself. You know how some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouths? I seemed to have been born with a serious one in mine. Everything had to be serious. I never knew how to take things lightly, and as problems in my life piled up, I let them pile up inside me, too. I wanted to be perfect. That, in itself, is an overbearing and costly endeavor.

In order to have a cheerful heart, the first place we must begin with is ourselves. We must take responsibility for our own misery. We must take responsibility for the way we think and the way we act. The world truly does not revolve around us. We cannot change someone else to make us happy and we cannot always change our circumstances, but with God's help, our negative personalities can be changed.

MMM! GOOD MEDICINE!

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

This scripture says that a cheerful heart is good medicine. The word, medicine in this context comes from the Hebrew word, gahah, which means to remove a bandage from a wound and a cure. A positive outlook brings healing to our bodies.

Did you know that comedians live longer than anyone else? It's a fact. Laughter is one of God's great, mysterious healing tools. Why do you think hospitals have clowns come to the wards to make patients laugh? We need to laugh when life is hard. It feels refreshing to have a good laugh. It is healing to the bones. I had a friend recently say to me that I always make her laugh. She's the serious type. What a compliment, I thought!

Are you too serious? Is everything a big deal in your life? In the early years when I would struggle so much with what people thought of me, the Lord gently spoke to my heart one day and said, "Forshia, do you really believe people have time to be thinking about you so much?" Well, I sure felt foolish! I was living in a self-centered world of my making. Don't get me wrong, I'm not crazy about it when I have to admit I'm wrong. The medicine doesn't taste good but it sure brings healing to my heart. God's medicine has a pinch of sugar in it. His love helps it go down better, Now, I can even let someone else think they're right and it's okay. I'd rather stay cheerful. God knows the truth.

IS MOODY BLUES YOUR DNA?

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

We cannot continue to stay in a state of sadness and disappointment and expect our health to improve. God can give us the first step-out of our habits of thinking. In those early years, I had to write down all my negative thoughts and then beside each negative thought I had to put God's truth about it from His Word. I had to admit that what I was thinking was wrong and causing wrong results. Then I would read this list over and over. At first, I did not see a change, but gradually, I began to see a change in my thinking and a lift in my mood. Just like seeds, the Word of God has to be planted in our hearts and we have to patiently wait for them to come up and bear fruit. We must continually water these seeds with the truth.

It has been said, that if you talk to a plant and tell it to die over and over, the plant will actually begin to wither and dry up. That's exactly what the results of a crushed spirit will do. Our spirits become more full of negatives than full of God and it comes out of our mouths and affects our health. We dry up. God is a positive God. Proverbs 10:28 in the Bible says that the prospect of the righteous is joy. His prospect or plan for us includes joy and lightness of spirit.

Sometimes, we think all our woes and pain are heaven sent. But often, it's because we don't know the truth. We become deceived by the truth of circumstances rather than the truth of God. He's not angry with us. He doesn't beat up on us in order to lift us up.

So... you think everybody thinks you have two heads! Well, two heads are better than one, don't you think? Lighten up! Smile! God loves you, even if you have two heads.

IS IT A SIN TO BE HAPPY?

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

All work and no play makes for dull people. As my ministry continues to grow, I have had to make sure I keep balance in my life. Actually, it started a while back. I would begin to know the warning signs when life was getting too serious. Ministry can become all consuming if you let it. Some people in ministry think every invitation to speak is from the Lord. Not necessarily so! Not if it is causing you to neglect rest and play on a regular basis.

It is not necessarily Godly to wear yourself out. What good are you if you die a slow death or die too young? Rest and play are necessary ingredients to a healthy outlook.

Negative and complaining people will suck the happiness right out of you. The Bible says bad company corrupts good morals. Let them take responsibility for their happiness. It's okay - don't feel guilty!

A few years ago, one of my friends came to my house and rang the doorbell. My husband answered the door and came upstairs where I was. "Peggy's at the door," he said, with a puzzled look on his face. "She wants to know if Forshia can come out and play?"

This article is copywrited. If you'd like to know more about the author, visit Forshia's site.