On Being a Positive Realist
"Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."1
About mental illness: Fortunately, it is accepted today as an illness perhaps more than ever before. In the past, mentally ill people were criticized, condemned, rejected, and even accused by some uninformed people of having demons. I don't know any easy or simple answers to help such sufferers, except to assure them of our love and acceptance. Medication helps many, but not all. It's the same with psychological counseling. It, too, helps many, but not all. I have two family members who are bipolar, but as long as they stay on their medication, they do very well.
With my grown son who is bipolar, I'm thankful that the medication he is on has helped him cope very well. Regardless as to whether he is up or down, I constantly assure him that I love him devotedly. But what I've also done to help is to encourage him to try to change his thinking so he will see that he is living with a challenge—rather than as a problem.
If you have a toothache, positive thinking is pretty much impossible. This is why I like to think I am a positive realist. If you are a positive realist and have a toothache, you will get to the dentist as quickly as you can. A positive realist sees his setbacks and problems as challenges that, with hard work and commitment, can be risen above and overcome. It has been well said that every one of us either has a problem, lives with a problem, or is a problem.
If you are living with a discouraging situation, try to think in terms that you are living with a challenge—not a problem, and with God's help and that of others where needed, you will do your best to rise above your challenges and become a better, healthier and more fulfilled person. And for those who suffer from mental illness, let those of us who are not so afflicted remember God's Word which says, "Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone."2
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to learn how to harmonize my thinking with Your Word, and in so doing turn all my problems into challenges and with Your help rise above and overcome them. And help me always to understand and 'encourage the timid, take tender care of the weak, and be patient with everyone.' Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Philippians 4:8 (NIV).
2. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NLT).