Attitudes

Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I can’t handle together (An old preacher’s greeting to each new day).” As I looked at the small green slip of paper, which had been carefully typed (on a “real typewriter”) and cut out by my mother, I thought of the positive attitude she had always shown in life. She was a great encourager, a strong support for my father and us kids.

Have you ever considered the tremendous impact our attitudes have on our thoughts, perceptions, and actions?… Positive attitudes lend themselves to a better approach on life, how we react to stressful situations, to resolving conflict, in interactions, and with any decision making. Negative attitudes do the opposite, as we struggle more in these areas and are more likely to give up.

But it is much more than that! What impacts our attitudes? From very early in life, perhaps even day one, our attitudes are being formed. My mom often reminded me to take one thing at a time when faced with an overwhelming task, like schoolwork or major decisions to make. An awareness of how our attitudes affect us allows us to look at and to approach life through a much broader lens and with greater understanding.

Have you ever just made up your mind that you are going to have a good day? While not knowing what each day brings, I have found that beginning with a better attitude helps me to approach things more positively. Do some people just “rub you the wrong way”? Instead of stewing about them, what if I decided to respond with a caring attitude and supportive actions or words that were not dependent on their response or lack thereof? Looking beyond sharp responses, unkind words, or silence requires some major attitude adjustments before they are encountered.

Attitudes are constantly developing and revising as we grow and mature and as life experiences occur, hence we hear admonitions to change our attitude or to examine our attitude when situations warrant. Phrases such as, “Watch your attitude” or “You need to change your attitude” come to mind!

As an early “attitude lesson,” I remember when a neighbor’s grandkids were calling unkind things across the fence between our yards. My mom encouraged us to respond with a positive and friendly attitude and when we did friendships were formed and we enjoyed our time together. “Attitude adjustments” are often needed in all ages and stages of life.

How much control do we have over our attitudes and what can we do about it? How can honest examination and understanding improve our physical as well as our mental or emotional health? What part does our faith background play in our attitudes? I ask myself these questions and think about how my attitude is helping or hindering my relationships, my level of stress, my openness to God’s call each day, and my trust in Him.

Just thinking about this and about life in general has already begun to shift things for the better. I have a feeling that I will be working on my attitude for the rest of my life, and that is not a bad thing! My prayer is for us all, as we dig in and take an attitude check each day. We may be pleasantly surprised at the difference it makes!

Trust Fully

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At dawn’s breaking, day’s nooning
Eve’s dawning, night’s sighing
What message sending
… trust fully

When rising in doubt, so restless foreboding
Or lonely now stressing, growing angry or fearful
When foremost is … self
Trust fully

What attitude taken, what visions or angst
When anxious or doubting, ‘I deserve’ and ‘why me’s’
Spreading discontent’s seeds
So hard to trust fully

Not foolish naive, of life’s follies and stress
Walk slowly take courage; run swiftly, greet confidence
Still self; be assured
And trust fully

Are you pointing to … Him, God’s hand held each day
Thoughts that are fruitful, for others to know
Nourishing lifting
… trust fully

Where vision does take us, eyes do perceive us
Words spew or bear up; actions tear or build up
Ear shut out or listen
… ah, trust fully

Contentment and blessing, joy enriching,
Smiles bring laughter; peace offers comfort
God is present
… trust fully

A Bad Rap?

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Think now of the mule, the donkey, the goat…
Such creatures as this who bear a great load!

Such poor reputations and so misunderstood
For services provided on a regular basis

Now Jack, now Jenny the sun is well risen…
Come on! You’re well rested! Time for a new day

Let’s go! … Please?!
Hey, wake up! Ah well…

Here Sweetly. You too HeeHaw.
You can join your friends in the cow pasture.

Guard duty today. No, over here…
Ohhh! I’m your friend. Run everyone! Run!

Billy! Where are you going?
Get out of the way! Don’t eat that!

…There we go. All settled now?
All in a day’s work for my unappreciated friends

What’s that? You’re considering getting a camel?
Hey! Watch out! He’ll spit in your eye!

Free to Be

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The car’s packed and we’re heading down the road to new adventures! …I remember my anticipation as a teen going off to college. Along with some normal anxiety, I looked forward to having my own schedule and being able to make my own decisions. I was free to strike out on my own. Free to be me… Rather a scary thought as I look back on that, but my parents and others had prepared me well and my faith in God was real and strong. Growing and maturing is an important step in life.

Free to be. Free to make choices. Free to consider future and present actions… But isn’t it also easy during that pursuit to become too self-focused, missing out on the richness and satisfaction of reaching outward in service and in working with others? We’ve all heard the clamor of the world. “He said…” “She did…” “That’s a lie…” “You deserve…” Perhaps I am just more aware as I’ve gotten older, but selfishness often seems to be encouraged. Talking at once seems to be the norm. People loudly espouse their agenda, poisonous words tearing others apart, hurting and demeaning everyone.

As I discovered during my college days, along with freedom comes new responsibility, greater accountability and consideration of others. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.” * In our freedom, I pray that we will remember the element of respect, building up and caring for others, rather than tearing down and destroying.

Of encouragement to me is the observation that when we face common challenges or tragedies, we begin to gain a sense of our shared humanity. When we take time to notice and acknowledge people as important and valued, then differing perspectives, needs, or goals no longer seem as significant. When we reconsider harsh words, there are fewer times to regret. When we choose positive actions, then growth and reconciliation are made possible. When we allow change in our own thinking and perspective, we discover room for compassion.

*1 Corinthians 10:23

 

Gentleness?

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“Ouch! That hurt!” …Whether a scrapped knee or elbow or a stumped toe, childhood memories for this tomboy keeping up with three brothers included the inevitable mishaps. My mother’s gentle, but no nonsense, ministrations with band-aide or ice packs taught me of compassion and strength. Care and concern was mixed with encouragement that all would be well.

Jesus modeled this gentleness and strength throughout his ministry. He reached out to heal and to provide for those who came to him. He also called them to show by their good life that their works were done with “gentleness born of wisdom.” *

Wow! That’s not so easy! We have all had our rather “unwise” moments when we’ve blurted out things without considering their consequences. “Bite your tongue,” people used to say when less than thoughtful words came out, or “I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying what I was thinking!” In listening to people, especially in news reports on television, it seems many are talking at once with little respect for others. Self-control and kindness are often disregarded… Our words and actions do not always reflect wisdom or a gentle spirit!

It can be tough to say or do things in a gentle (and more positive) manner, rather than just from a “self” focus. It seems significant that when Paul told the Galatians about the “fruit of the Spirit,” the last two fruits he listed were gentleness and self-control… We have to work at it, but the results are worth it.

One thing that helps me, is to take time to rest and de-stress as regularly as possible. It’s so much harder to respond in positive ways when I’m overly tired! Sometimes I need to remove myself from a situation or conversation, if only briefly, so I can calm down or take time to think first. We all learn what works best for us.

Gentleness? God grant me a gentle heart, so I can serve You better!

*James 3:13