This article is shared by Marsha Jordan
I don’t like morning — it starts too early in the day. Yesterday morning was worse than most and started out bad from the get go. I always know it’s going to be a lousy day when it begins with getting out of bed. I’ve had bronchitis for over a week, and to make matters worse, I awoke with a migraine the size of Hoboken, New Jersey. I was crabbier than a seaside restaurant.
I’d had surgery on my hand and was taking pain medication that made me lethargic, so I just wanted to veg out, watching Gilligan’s Island reruns and old movies. But right in the middle of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” my TV died. (Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!) I don’t know what went wrong with it, but it may have had something to do with the flames shooting out the back like fourth of July fireworks.
Do you know how boring and frustrating it is to be cranky, tired, and sick but not have a TV for distraction? I had to put up with my own company. That’s as much fun as spending the day in a phone booth with a Pitt Bull that has PMS.
I decided to make Christmas cookies, but that endeavor did not go well. The first bowl of dough was runnier than my nose. The second batch was as sticky as used gum on a hot sidewalk, and I burned the third batch blacker than a grease monkey’s finger nails. No wonder I hate to cook. After three flops, I gave up and vowed never to touch an oven mitt again. I think I’ll become a commercial cook, cooking only what can be heated in the microwave during TV commercials.
I grabbed the pitcher of juice and bumped it on the counter. The bottom exploded like an overcooked Johnsonville brat. A geyser of juice and shattered glass sprayed the cupboards and floor. After cleaning that up, I went into the den and slid across the room on a pile of dog vomit, smearing it all over the rug. Another mess to clean up.
The last straw was when I went to the drug store for antibiotics. When the pharmacist told me it would cost $60 for three days’ worth, I got madder than a constipated rattlesnake. And like a rattlesnake, I wanted to bite somebody. I didn’t have that much money on me, so I had to leave without the pills.
When I got back home, I stomped around complaining about everything that annoyed me. Being crankier than a giraffe with strep throat, I couldn’t think of a single thing that didn’t bug me.
Coincidentally, while listening to the radio, I heard a country song entitled, “I hate everything.” My sentiments exactly!
Then I recalled a funny story about a kid pulling a prank on his grandpa. While the old man slept, his grandson wiped Limburger cheese on his mustache. When grandpa woke up, he complained that the room smelled bad. When he walked into a different room, that one smelled the same way. Finally, he went outside to get away from the odor, but it followed him. Grandpa exclaimed, “The whole world stinks!”
Yesterday, even without Limburger cheese on my face, I felt like the whole world stunk.
Of course, I know that this kind of thinking results from focusing on the negative and not seeing the positive. When I do that, I say things like “always, ” “never,” or “everybody.” For instance, “EVERYBODY else has a better life than I do.” Or “Things NEVER work out for me.” And “Why do bad things ALWAYS happen to me?” I know very well that everybody doesn’t have a better life. Bad things don’t always happen to only me, but yesterday, it sure did seem that way.
When I have a “Limburger attitude,” and feel like the whole world smells bad, I need to challenge my false self talk. To adjust my “stinkin’ thinkin’,” I remember what the apostle Paul endured. He had a lot more “bad luck” than any of us could experience in a life time; and if anyone had a right to complain, Paul did. Yet, while in prison, he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always . . . ” (Philippians 4:4) How in the world can a person be happy when everything’s going wrong?
Reading some of Paul’s other letters helps to shed some light on his perspective. In his second letter to the Corinthian church (chapter 11) he wrote, “Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; I spent a night and a day in the open sea; I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers; in danger from bandits; in danger from my own countrymen; in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city; in danger in the country; in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”
Paul had a lot on his shoulders. Why was it not crushing his spirit? He wrote in 2 Corinthians 4, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” The phrase there that jumps out at me is “not abandoned.” Paul knew that he was not alone, and he could depend upon God staying with him, no matter what happened. That’s the key to contentment.
Paul could not control his circumstances, and neither can we. However, like Paul, we can control our attitudes. Reversing a Limburger attitude requires developing an attitude of gratitude. When I feel that everything is bad and the world stinks, I need to stop and make a conscious effort to focus on the positive. I think of the good things for which I can be thankful. If nothing else, I can be thankful that I woke up this morning. (Well, maybe there are some days when that doesn’t SEEM like such a positive thing.)
There’s at least one thing for which we can all be grateful: God cares for us and is willing to walk with us through difficulties. That in itself is reason to rejoice. I heard someone say, “Nothing can happen to me today that God and I together can’t handle.” That’s good to remember.
When I count my blessings, I feel bad about the way I whine and feel sorry for myself. I have a lot more than many others do. I have much to be thankful for and nothing to complain about.
Negative self talk can make me feel like the whole world stinks, but positive thinking is just as powerful. Practicing thankfulness often turns my outlook around. A Limburger attitude can become an attitude of gratitude.