how much good does it take?

How much good does it take, to offset all the gunk?   I wonder this for my clients.  For all the wounded people who come in with a world of hurt and a pack of lies eating them up inside.

How many times will I need to say, "You're a person of value.  Your voice counts.  Your opinion matters.  You get to choose."

And I wonder this for myself.

How much will I need to hear that I'm loved and accepted, before I stop doubting and wondering and slamming the door?

I know these things are true, but how long is it going to take, to get it through my thick head?

Of course, people have studied this positive-to-negative ratio, and it turns out that about three positive comments to one negative is what you need for minimal functioning, at least for a team in the business world.  The actual number is 2.9013--it's called the Losada Line, in honor of Marcial Losada, who did the research.

If you happen to want a high-functioning team, you need 5.6 positive comments for every single negative one.

Interestingly enough, John Gottman came up with a similar number when he researched married couples.  He found that couples need 5 positive remarks for every negative remark as well.  And, Gottman found that couples who got divorced had a ration of .777 to 1.  I think that translates into four negative comments for three positives.  At least .777 and 1 are almost the same, right?  (If my math skills have not failed me yet today.)

You don't even have to be overwhelmingly negative.  You can just be pretty equally negative and positive, and that's a bad place to live.  Toxic to your marriage.

(Of course there are other factors involved, and maybe the negative comments are just the 4th horseman of the apocalypse, but you'd have to read Gottman's fabulous book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work to figure it out.  There's your link, straight to Amazon.  Go buy it now.)

This is pretty disheartening to me some days.  I feel like there's no way to pile up enough good words to block the tsunami of garbage that comes our way.

But I'm kind of hoping that I can count more than just straight-out words on the positive side.  

Because Scripture does say that the heavens declare the glory of God, and that every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Light.

So the positive words help a lot.  They really do.

"God delights in me."  I'm going on live on those four words for the rest of my life, I think.

And these words from Brennan Manning:  "Define yourself radically as one Beloved by God.  This is the true self.  Every other identity is illusion."

But I'm going to count the good gifts like chocolate, and Jimmy John's #6 Vegetarian, and walks on the beach, and Widor's Toccata, and sunsets and stars, and my crazy little poodly dogs.  Travel to faraway places and the ever-changing beauty of the earth.  Crepe myrtles and sages and lantana that bloom even though it's 100 degrees outside.

All the people I love, and who love me back, in ways that heal and comfort and sustain me.

The time and the prayers and the tears and the laughter.

I'm counting all that.

When I acknowledge and revel in every single bite and drop of blessing, when I let all the good stuff in, when I stop blocking it with being scared of vulnerability and loss of control.

Because, a door is a door.  When I keep everything locked down safe and tight, I may keep out some bad stuff, but I also lock out the good stuff.

When I open myself to the whole package, believing that God is good all the time and that He loves me, no matter what.

Then, the numberless blessings.  

They are goodness enough for all the gunk.

For all of us.

(I did what passes for research here on Wikipedia, by the way.  Since I am such a scholar.


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