Saturday, November 29, 2014

An Attitude of Gratitude

Photo image courtesy of Petar Paunchev via

There truly is something to be said about the complexity of our demeanors; dictated by our emotions and circumstances, our attitudes can redefine who we are and what our values are on a given day. Without the right ones, we’re unpleasant, bitter, full of ourselves, needy, and any other slew synonyms our cohorts can come up with to condemn our poor behavior. Our attitudes can immediately alter how others feel about us, which leaves to be said that such an important piece of ourselves should probably be under our own stronghold, not the fluidity of the world’s.
So now we have a simple solution: take control of your attitude and you can take control of your life. Pretty easy, right?
Wrong: it’s completely incorrect, and all of you have learned that firsthand!
Our attitudes tend to be wildly influenced by what the world has to dish out at us.  Wake up late on an important work day, you label it a bad omen and act as though the rest of your day will be just as miserable.  You find you don’t have the money to pay the gas bill for the old minivan, your attitude becomes irrational, and you assume you won’t be able to travel anywhere for the next six months. Your child is suddenly admitted to the hospital, and just like that, the only thing you can think and talk about with anybody is the misery of having your young ray of sunshine wrapped in a cocoon of IV’s and starchy hospital sheets.
We’ve all been there, and it’s clear to say that we let our emotions and situations take the driver’s seat of our behaviors. So, what is there to do when our own human flesh fails our needs and expectations? I’d say that’s a pretty easy query to answer, and the solution is nowhere near pitying our imperfections. As in all things, we use the spiritual rule of thumb and turn to God.
Allow me to digress:  The beginning of my junior year had been a difficult time for me to bear, and my attitude clearly resembled my hurts. I had recently lost my six closest friends over the summer, leaving me quite stranded and alone. For the three months that followed, I spent my time in solitude, pitying my absolute lack of relationships. One good thing emerged from this isolation, and that was the empty time I spent in thought. I remember walking to work one day--no music, no friends, barely a visible man for blocks--and feeling dumbfounded with wonder. I couldn’t make sense of myself that day, because after so many previous months of melancholy, I felt joyful and serene, and only for this one reason:  I was grateful. I watched birds fly by, and smiled at how complex their bodies were, how their bones were so light that they could carry themselves in midair. I considered my own body, how oddly balanced my organs and bodily functions are, how all of myself is made in such a way that the universe could never create me by chance.
My vision traced a trail of power lines and I thought, “God made man and God put the first thought of ingenuity into the minds of His creation. It was God’s plan for men to weave metal into cables, to force heat into those cables to generate power--tangible power! God meant for man to carve wood into perfectly balanced posts to suspend the cables and conductors. God designed electricity to create the light which these cables bring! It’s all in God’s plans before it’s put to a draft!”
For all these things--for the birds, the cables, for being able to walk to work on my own two feet--I was grateful beyond words and beyond reason. Following suit, my attitude had made a complete ‘180: by focusing on what blessings I already had in this world, I was able to train my emotions away from my terrible circumstances and hone in on the grand scheme of what God had set forth on the earth. My demeanor had made a drastic change because of my thankfulness for God’s presence in the world, just as God has said it would...


When we are grateful for all the little things God brings to our lives, the massive appearance of our woes becomes as small as God intends it to be, and when our hearts are set on the better things in life, our attitudes gladly follow in their wake.
Pray: Lord, help me to leave behind all of my worries, troubles, and harmful emotions. Let your spirit fill me so that I may reflect Your perfect peace in every sense of myself.

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