The Danger of Should: Why Positive Thinking May Not be the Answer

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A preliminary scrolling of Instagram started my day, between the morning meandering that makes up the daily routine of my life and sitting down for my first cup of coffee, I find myself under assault.

The word, should, catches my attention.

I haven’t opened my Bible yet, but fortunately I must have slept in my spiritual armor. Or maybe after years of wearing it, it finally has become my permanent garb. Or maybe it’s just that I open my Bible enough so when I am confronted with philosophies disguised as wisdom in the form of memes, posts, advertising and free offers, I recognize the not so subtle brain washing of an unseen enemy who plays for keeps.

Have I gotten your attention yet?

I’m not a not a superhero, nor do I play one on TV and I am not a perfect Christian either – because they don’t exist. I’m just a girl who reads her Bible frequently who likes to think she’s more of a disciple of Jesus than not. The thing is, I take Jesus at His word.

If you take Jesus at His word, then you’ll take issue with a lot of things that posture themselves in opposition to that word.

The words that Jesus spoke are estimated at about 30, 000, and are recorded and preserved in four written accounts of His life found in the Gospels. These four accounts make up the introduction to what is called The New Testament. Bound together with the Old Testament writings we have what is revelation enough to understand God…if such a thing is possible, or at least who God has revealed Himself to be by His own account in words through many individuals led by divine power.


This is my understanding, and it happens to be what I believe. So, if you disagree, this where we probably part ways. Nice knowing you.

I want to address what I can only say is “nothing new under the sun”. You can read my favorite book, Ecclesiastes, for more on this concept.  However, one cannot do a scroll through social media or walk down any street it seems in 2019, without concluding anything goes these days…oh but wait – ALMOST anything goes.

Those 30, 000-ish words Jesus spoke? Well those words got Him, and several of His followers crucified, tortured and killed. It still does… depending on where you live.

So why is it today, there is this assumption in many “believing” groups, that following Jesus leads to lace and lollipops, happily ever after and polka dotted landscapes with puppy dog trails? And if you try to speak otherwise, as in actual theological truth- you will be looked at as an alien, and possibly boiled in Non-GMO, vegetarian, gluten-free, calorie free, zero-content broth (no animals will have been harmed in the making of such broth either, for good measure).

I sit here wondering how we as Christians can continue to fly under the radar, so to speak.

Jesus never said a thing about positivity, positive thinking, self-care, self-love. Jesus communicated a radically superior way. One that can only begin to be comprehended through eyes of faith. Through radical self-disclosure, repentance and death. And it’s not that I don’t think the underlying beliefs of these ideas solo hold value, but when they are knit together to form a philosophy which undermines the authority of Christ, well, then I have a problem. And so do you if you are drinking that Kool-Aid.

So when I read this morning in that post, in a feed full of posts that say the same thing over and over with ever increasingly beautiful pictures that, I should love my life, that this person (and many more these days) can show me how to “love my life” more, by ways they know have worked for them…through moon phases, rigorous regimens of physical challenge, and through creative ventures promising to lead the way to happiness and fulfillment, I find myself feeling uncomfortable. The assault is relentless, variations numerous, and the possibilities endless.

If the spirit within you is stirred and distressed, don’t doubt it is onto something. Just because it looks pretty, smiles and seems harmless doesn’t mean it can’t take you down.

The Jesus I know, and follow does not preach a positivity gospel. I am sorry if this is bad news for you. But he does beg us to follow Him and die. Die to SELF including self–love, die to self-ambition, die to loyalty to friends and family- if they keep you from Him, die to that ONE THING that keeps you from believing Him completely. Because that one thing will take you down.

That one thing to which you cling that keeps you from the One True King will be your undoing.

When He is first, you can believe that all things will be in the right order in your life. It may seem like all hell will be against you. Because it will be. But it won’t matter, because you will be secure in something besides the fly-by-night philosophies of today packaged and branded beautifully. You will be standing on an Eternal Rock and The Truth that is Forever. The same promises that were made before time, in time will stand and be fulfilled. You might think that is a positive thing. That could be the most powerful positive thing you ever believe.

When I became a believer, I was immersed in the thinking prevalent in the world at the time. I did not grow up in a Christian home or have a religious upbringing. Yet here I am standing on a foundation as sure as Jesus Christ himself and immersed in Him instead of the world. oh, I am still learning, and I am far from who He calls me to be…but I ‘m on my way and swimming in Scripture keeps me from swimming too far from safety. Even if I am swimming with the sharks.

How about you? Do you think you need positivity in your life? Are you curious about following signs to guide you in life or wonder if there is harm in doing so? Read Colossians (it’s my personal favorite and God used it mightily to disentangle my mind from the vain philosophies I was following). Read 1 and 2 Peter. Meditate on Scripture day and night. Even if everyone else thinks your weird for doing so…it will keep you from the positive thinking that will positively lead you astray. Positive thinking to me is found in taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (1 Corinthians). That’s powerful thinking. Powerful thinking usurps positive thinking every time.

If you are a Christian the Word of God is your authority. Not every whim of teaching blowing through your view.

I have not written this way in a while, so be sure you let me know what you think in the comments below. I just felt led to share this and I hope it makes sense and hits the target God intended!

Looking to read the Bible more for all it’s worth? Join in with us in Journaling through the Book of John: A Journey for Lent and Beyond

If you have a question, or feedback leave it below of e-mail me at





Published by enthusiasticallydawn

Dawn Paoletta is the author of Journaling for Discovery and Delight. Her writing is included in several anthologies and her poems have been included in the Wickford Poetry and Art Exhibit and Books. Dawn is currently working on her next book. Inquiries at

9 thoughts on “The Danger of Should: Why Positive Thinking May Not be the Answer

  1. I get that same squirmy feeling, Dawn. Our self-esteem in Christ is high, but not because we’ve pampered ourselves. It’s because we are children of the High King, who valued us at the price of His life. And it is our Joy to then lay down our lives, as well, in the great cause of sharing this amazing gospel/good news with others. Jesus calls for sacrifice and servanthood. And in that, ironically, we find great joy and fulfillment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dawn:
    Thank you for obeying the Spirit’s leading and speaking truth. What a blessing you are to have a sister in Christ who actually overflows with living water and love. You demonstrate your love for us in that you don’t want us to be deceived. I needed to hear this today as I was about to take a step in the wrong direction. Thank you, please continue to speak truth as the end is near.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw your comment yesterday and my heart was so happy! Thank you for always affirming me in why I am here – my true purpose. I get sidetracked by so many lesser things , then God just blows me away with His grace and allows His words into my heat and head and I think, why would I settle for anything less! Praying with you for all the victories in our lives, Melissa- In and by His amazing grace!


  3. Thank you, Dawn, for speaking the truth in love! Christ told His followers to take up their cross and follow Him…that cross was not an easy thing to bear…it would take them to places where no man dared to go before…and many would have to leave loved ones and homes and things behind to follow Him all the way. Being a disciple of Christ is not for sissies. I’ve recently written about this as well. The beauty is, Christ doesn’t leave us alone on our journey. He goes with us…He goes before us, and He brings up the rear guard…we are never left on our own to struggle…but we will have plenty of struggles…but never without His love and guidance. Yes, we need to speak truth as found in God’s Word…not as the world teaches and some “preachers” preach…they preach falsely and lead many astray. God bless you for standing tall and strong in Christ.


    1. Hello Pam! So glad to see one of my journal ladies (original!) here- and thank you- I agree – He gives us all we need- His very presence. Oh, that eyes would be open to see! Love to you!


  4. Yes and yes and yes! The very best way to “be all I can be” and “reach my fullest potential” (etc., etc., etc.) is to let HIM increase that I may decrease. Disappointment, sorrow, illness, even tragedy, cannot destroy the deepest joy in my life if my joy is in Jesus, whatever he may bring.


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