You must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. James 1:19
It has been close to a week since the end of the Lenten season, and most folks have started to engage in activities or consume treats they scarified in the name of Christ for 40 days. My son has started making his popcorn every night around 10 pm. My husband has perused the frozen aisle for Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream. Starbucks is once again hopping with latte lovers, and folks on social media hiatus are back in the mix.
And me? Well, I slowly wandered back into negative thoughts, angry outbursts over minor irritations, and yes, gossip. Just like my ice cream, popcorn, and Facebook starved counterparts, I was apparently making up for the 40 days in which I worked so hard biting my tongue, and staying positive.
A forgotten day at work earlier in the week threw me into pity party mode. I was hormonal (because this is the excuse we women allow ourselves, A LOT). I woke up on the grumpy side of bed the other morning. I survived two meltdowns courtesy of our five-year old son over uncomfortable clothes, weird shoes, and dead flowers. I was staying up late to work on a large project due at the end of the week. I was behind on housework, work for church, school work. I was in an overall tizzy.
As everything began to crumble around me, so did my “happy” meter. And I wanted EVERYONE around me to know it!
My husband knew how irritated I was that lunches were not packed.
I got a little snappy with co-workers because they had missed my “Hallmark” holiday.
I yelled at my kids, well, because I had a lot to do. And, darn it! I wanted to have a meltdown over clothes and dead flowers for once!
I moved from 40 days of positivity, to Negative Nancy mode all in the span of 40 hours!
Starting a quarrel is like opening the floodgate, so stop before a dispute breaks out. Proverbs 17:14
And, boy had I opened the floodgates!
I had clearly forgotten that building others up meant praising my kids for the things they do well, not just harping on all the things they do wrong, or don’t do at all.
I had forgotten that not tearing down, meant I stopped the self-defeating talk that made a list of all my weaknesses and flaws.
I forgot the importance of not getting caught up in solving the problems of the world-my way, of course.
I had forgotten the power of prayer and an encouraging word.
And I had forgotten that the call to be slow to speak or get angry could be the difference in whether one has a positive outlook, an overflowing “happy” meter, or a change in mood.
While I was snapping, stomping, complaining, and yelling-I had forgotten how to be like Jesus.
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. Ephesians 5:1-2
Our lives will always be defined by circumstances and situations we face. Some will be good, and some not so. Most of them we do not choose, and cannot control.
But, we do have one choice. We can choose to change the way we see our circumstances. We can choose to change the way in which we respond to the annoyances that trickle into our daily activities.
Are we going to put on our rose colored glasses and see our situation as something positive? A learning experience? A chance to grow? A chance to become closer to God? A chance to encourage someone else? To share a word of praise or encouragement for what they have done?
Or are were going to put on our grumpy pants and see our situation from every sharp and stormy angle possible? A reason to stress even more? A reason to give up? A reason to lay on the floor and have a meltdown? A reason to not rely on God?
I know I want those rose colored glasses. I want to challenge myself to continue to speak life to those in my midst. To speak words of encouragement. To remain positive in a world that is anything but.
I want to remember that the call to speak the truth in love, to praise, to encourage, to be slow to speak wasn’t a call for 40 days only, but for all times. Even when I have been forgotten. Even when the side of my bed is a little grumpy. Even when my kids are driving me nuts. Even when I have too much to do, and too little time in which to do it. Even when all I want to do is give up, lay on the floor, and meltdown.
My choice? To speak life. To remain positive. To be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. For 40 minutes, 40 hours, 40 days, weeks, years, and beyond. How about you?