article by Paul Lipe
I REMEMBER our whole-family, February gathering out in Dallas for the purpose of celebrating the 9th birthday of Anna Kathryn. Anna Kathryn is the second child of our son Jonathan and his wife, Mary Linda, and is a sister to Sarah, Jon Paul and Lilly (who, at that time, had not yet been born). In addition to Jon’s family, the celebrants included my wife, Linda, and me, and my daughter, Mary Linda, from Jackson, Mississippi, her husband, and her children Trey and Mary Hastings.
We enjoyed the special occasion at an indoor water park at Great Wolf Lodge just north and west of Dallas. Following a fun-filled day, the ladies remained overnight at the lodge, while the guys (there were 5 of us) returned to Jon’s house to spend the night.
The girls in the family spent the whole of the next day doing what they do best – shopping! In fact, they had so much fun in that endeavor that, when they finally returned home, it was too late for them to prepare dinner. So, they ordered take-out from what they thought was one of Anna Kathryn’s favorite restaurants – Pei Wei, a place that specializes in Oriental cuisine. One of the dishes was Honey-Seared Chicken, again, a choice that they thought would please “AK.”
As the result of his business responsibilities, Jon missed out on the dinner, but when he reached home that evening, he asked “AK” how she had liked her birthday “doings.” She replied that everything had been great except for the take-out dinner. “But,” she added, “I don’t like Honey-Seared Chicken, and I don’t like Pei Wei.” Her Dad’s response to this was, “Kat Kat, honey, can’t you be a little more positive?” She broke us up with her reply: “O. K., I’m POSITIVE that I don’t like Honey-Seared Chicken, and I am POSITIVE that I don’t like Pei Wei!”
This young lady taught us an important lesson that evening – it is possible to be positive about a negative! I am persuaded that it is as important to refrain from wrong conduct and behavior as it is to engage in doing what is good and right. Examine, for instance, the Ten Commandments, which are the basis for Judeo-Christian ethic. Over half of these commandments are concerned with things we are to avoid, things we are told NOT to do.
Do you think God may have realized that the temptation to do wrong was stronger than the inducement to follow right paths! At any rate, when He tells us not to steal and not to murder, He is very positive about those negatives.
As parents, and as grandparents, we want the best for our children. Therefore, we try to implant in their developing minds the principle that doing good things is a good thing! We encourage them to be kind, thoughtful, honest, pure, trustworthy, disciplined, dependable, loving…the list could go on and on. What an encouragement it is to see this kind of character being formed in our offspring! Observing these positive traits in those we love is a source of incredible joy.
Almost as important to us, however, is being confident that those dearest to our hearts are learning NOT to practice habits that are harmful. We want them to be as committed to refraining from wrong thoughts and actions as they are to pursuing those good qualities which are so critical to us. I like a phrase from Nancy Reagan, wife of one of our greatest Presidents, who, in reference to drugs, said, “Just say no.” It should be evident to us all that as doing “right” things pays a good dividend, so does doing inappropriate things have its negative consequences. Therefore, let us be positive that we will NOT engage in activities that are not virtuous and admirable. We should be devoted to doing what is noble, but also as committed to avoiding what is unworthy.
May we all, then, operate under a strong conviction, a positive conviction that we will not be guilty of doing those things that will have negative, bad consequences. And let us have the courage to promote our positions that involve a positive negative. If something does not have God’s approval, shun it – and encourage others to do the same.
I hope we can agree that it is O.K., even commendable to have a positive negative, because, when it comes to the approaching Presidential election, I am POSITIVE that I will NOT vote for …