Are You a Pollyanna or Mrs. Snow?
Story by Kristine Barnes
In 1960 there was a movie, based on a best-selling 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter, about a young girl who had a habit of finding the good in every situation. She was a “glass-half-full” kind of girl. Or was that half-empty? That analogy has never made sense to me. Whether the glass was only half empty or still half full, you have half a glass of whatever. So what’s the difference?
The difference is Attitude!
In the story, Haley Mills as Pollyanna worked with a grumpy Mrs. Snow, played by Agnes Morehead, who saw only the bad side of everything. She had wealth, a beautiful home, but no friends and poor health only because she decided to be weak and angry and pitiful. Her negative attitude caused her to have a bad life in a place most people would feel privileged to inhabit. Pollyanna repeatedly pointed this out to her. In one of my favorite scenes, she removed all the prisms from a chandelier and hung them on strings across Mrs. Snow’s bedroom windows. The result was an explosion of rainbows on the walls. How could you look this and not be stunningly reminded of the glory God’s creation when you can see the magnificent beauty of colors contained in a single beam of normally invisible light?!?
Many years later, because of this scene in the movie, our windows are full of glass and prisms which create shimmering rainbow bugs upon every surface when the sun’s light hits them. They bring joy and even laughter when someone in the room has a richly colored rainbow quietly plastered across their nose!
Pollyanna named her penchant, the “glad game”. Regardless of circumstances Pollyanna was determined to find something about which to be happy.
Billy Graham had a similar attitude. In a biography called America’s Pastor, author Grant Wacker wrote, “Graham came across as saying, ‘give your life to Christ, bury your prejudices, and just go out and do the right thing.’ He had an irenic disposition always striving for a position of peace, moderation, or conciliation, blended with an irrepressible sense of humor. He believed ‘hot heads and cold hearts never solved anything.’ In Graham’s view of others, he did not analyze motives, he just saw opportunities.
“With the Apostle Paul, Graham knew that people persistently did what they willed not to do and failed to do what they willed to do. But for Graham failures of that sort were remedied fairly easily. They signaled fixable breakdowns in the operating system rather than flaws inherent in the design. With the Holy Spirit’s help, firm resolve, and common sense, we can determine to take hold and march forward.”
Graham believed, “If a man accepts the deity of Christ and is living for Christ to the best of his knowledge, I intend to have fellowship with him in Christ.” He said, “There is far more emphasis on love and unity among God’s people in the New Testament than there is on orthodoxy, as important as it is. I have learned that although Christians do not always agree, they can agree to disagree agreeably, and that what is most needed in the church today is for us to show an unbelieving world that we love one another.”
Graham preached one basic message for over six decades. He called for virtues that all men and women of good faith should seek: self-discipline, sobriety, and purity in one’s personal life, forgiveness, fairness, and honesty in one’s social life, and a commitment to work for justice for all people in one’s public life.
Throughout his preaching life Graham’s core gospel message included: the authority of the Bible, the stranglehold of sin, the power of redemption through Christ, the necessity of a disciplined person, and the command to share the gospel with its promise of the life to come.
When Graham spoke at his crusades, his message was straightforward. “Some day, for all of you, if you don’t know God, the music will stop. It will all be over. Accept the fact that you will die, make arrangements, make provision for those you leave behind, and make an appointment with God. The Christian life is not a way out, but a way through. You don’t have to straighten out your lives first, just as you don’t have to make yourself well before going to a doctor. God loves you, and He can make a difference in your life if you will let Him…He gives us strength for the present and hope for the future…He alone can bring peace with God, peace in your heart, and peace with those around you.” Graham ended every service with an invitation to choose Christ, or not choose Christ, but to make a choice! He told people “Come as you are. We’ll wait.”
Just as Graham told folks to come forward, just as they were, and accept God’s love, we have that same opportunity. I think Billy Graham is a Pollyanna for very valid reasons. He chose to seek the good in each situation and to help others find it.
Wherever you are on your individual timeline, you may also strap on a pair of rose-colored glasses, with a coat of pragmatism, grab the HOPE and become a Pollyanna too. As Graham said, “With the Holy Spirit’s help, firm resolve, and common sense, we can determine (that is choose) to take hold and march forward.” God is the Giver of all good things. They are all around us, always - we just have to be on the lookout for them. You may choose any day to play Pollyanna’s “glad game” as you deepen your relationship with our Father, recognizing all He has in store for those who love Him, and chose Him as their God. Find joy - be glad!
One of my regular “Pollyannas”: Most people eat to live. I live to eat. One of my greatest joys when eating alone is creating meals from scraps. I go thru the fridge and scan our counter for ripening produce, determine what most needs to be used before it spoils (I HATE wasting food!!) Then I make crazy combinations of leftovers. The funny thing is, no matter what random ingredients I have, the meal almost always comes out awesome. I am SO glad to sit by my sunlit, glass-filled bay window, awash in rainbows, and the sounds of classical music on the radio, with good reading material beside me, and then savor every moment and every bite.
Here are a few things to consider …YOU can:
1 Determine to be happy – focus on the good things you have in your lives.
2 Rejoice in trials - lessons and blessings come within challenges and mistakes.
3 Be a person of integrity – a clear conscience eliminates the fear of discovery and the weight of guilt.
4 Know what you believe – plant yourself firmly on the Rock so you cannot be moved.
5 Demonstrate Christian love – Jesus loves everyone and charges us to do likewise.
6 Embrace fellow travelers - everyone is on the same journey from birth to death.
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