Last night was a low point for me. I think the stresses of the last year and life in general built up and I reached “that point” that we all do when we bottle things inside. I had a bad sinus headache to begin with, and that moment of physical weakness broke me down to the point where everything seemed terrible. In the midst of it, suddenly realized how a bad attitude had come to rest within me.
I had one of those moments where I saw myself as a stranger would if he could see my thoughts. Ouch. I’ve let myself become bitter, critical, someone I wouldn’t want to be around. I’ve always said of people who act bitter or nasty that they must be terribly unhappy to act the way they do. It’s a way people distance themselves from hurts and worries, because it’s easier to find fault with everything around us than it is to admit our own shortcomings and make changes in our lives.
I’ve been one of those people recently, and I don’t like her. That’s not me, not the GW who seeks to live a godly life and treat people as God would have her treat them. I saw this bitterness and anger coming out in destructive ways.
Most people might not have noticed this. We all have different faces we present in different situations. And no single part of our personality defines us as a whole. Even as the apostle Paul said of how he adapted to various situations, “I have become all things to all men” (1 Cor. 1:9). Often, it’s only family or very close friends who see the undesirable parts of us because we hide it so well from others.
Still, even if no one else knows, I do.
So, I cried. A lot. It’s been months since I’ve cried and I know even that alone would have been cathartic. But I also asked God’s forgiveness for my attitude and asked Him to help me be the person He wants me to be.
I know it isn’t going to happen overnight. Oh, how I wish it would! It involves daily choices. Sometimes it means taking things by the hour or even by the minute.
It means thinking things through before I say them, asking the Lord to be my inner censor. I don’t want to be that person who makes the light go out of someone’s eyes with words rashly spoken, even if I’m right. Why do I need to show I’m right about something? Why is this important to me and, really, does it even really matter in the grand scheme of things? Why do I need to defend my actions?
Are my words, be they spoken or written, going to build up or tear down? Is my critique legitimate? Is it really necessary to voice it? What are my motives for what I’m about to do? That’s a biggie. What do I hope to accomplish with these words or this action? Will this make me a better person? Will it bruise or will it heal? Will it draw others to God, or only serve as ammunition against Him and His people?I must ask myself these when I feel a need to prove a point:
You get the idea. It’s hard! But it’s worth it.
It’s also something I need to do not only for myself, but for everyone around me. As Dennis Prager writes in Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual, it behooves us to make our own happiness our personal goal. It’s not shallow or selfish to want to be happy. Anyone who’s spent a lot of time with an unhappy spouse, parent, child, friend or coworker knows how unhappy people make those around them miserable.It’s an excellent book – I highly recommend it
This brings me to today.This morning, I read a post on the Fiskateers message board that made me stop and think. It was a call for people to list 5 things they’re thankful for. This was my post:
What a great idea. Thanks for starting this thread! I am thankful
1. that God knows us from the inside out, and loves us in spite of our baggage
2. for my husband who, like God, is long on grace and is my best friend
3. for the big family I married into; as a “lonely only” it’s nice having siblings
4. for the technology that lets me photograph and instantly see the pictures, connect with friends from around the world, and learn new things with such ease
5. for this time of year, when I can put my garden to bed without guilt and turn my thoughts more toward scrapbooking and other indoors hobbies
I have one more to add: I am thankful that my future is not etched in stone just because I have a propensity toward something. We do not have to stay the people that we have become. As the saying goes, “God loves you just the way we are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way”.
So here’s to change, whether it be noticeable only to us or to many.