When I was a young adult in college, I rented a home with an apartment on the backside. It was my first experience with roaches. The roaches didn’t live with us. I wouldn’t see them all day or if we were home and up late at night. One night I discovered they visited when I woke up in the middle of the night turned the kitchen light on; they would scattered out of sight. It didn’t matter how clean I kept my house, sometimes the bugs would get into my house.
After a few screams and calls to the landlord I found out that the back apartment had roaches. As a single male, he might not have cared; I did. If I wasn’t diligent when I saw them, my neighbors problem could quickly become my problem. I remember when I finally moved, we loaded all the stuff in the U-Haul, and set off two bombs in the truck and let it sit just to make sure we didn’t take any of the “visitors” into the new place. Over the next twenty years, I quickly learned when a neighbor had bugs and when their apartment or close by house would get treated. To this day, roaches still freak me out.
I am not sure what got me thinking about this the other night, but I thought about how it applies to my spiritual life as well. I work with people in difficult circumstances and there are times that I allow other people’s junk to get on me. I allow their problems to become mine. Much like my neighbor’s roaches, I pick up other’s bad attitudes. If I allow myself to react or worse yet, to join in to the negativity it becomes my problem.
I like to think that I have a positive life stance as John C. Maxwell calls it. My attitude, assumptions and expectations about myself, others and the world around me generally come from a positive perspective. As a social worker, it’s called the strength’s perspective and I have always excelled at finding positives in even the most difficult of circumstances.
In I Corinthians 15:33 the writer warns that bad company corrupts good character. I can’t spend all my time around negativity and hope to maintain my positive life stance.
I can not be shocked by the circumstances and attitudes that I come across in dealing with people. I can however guard myself to not pick up those things and make them my own. I can receive negativity and not give it back. I can be surrounded by the darkest of circumstances and not join in to them.
Isolation from the world around us is not the answer. We are called to be lights. Darkness cannot overcome the light as long as it shines. Light has to stay plugged in to its source to shine. I am called to go out into the world. Its up to me to make sure that I keep my house clean and stay plugged into the Source, so that bad company doesn’t corrupt me.