Being a father of five kids is challenging on the good days, and darn near impossible on the troublesome days. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids- they are all amazing- and most of the time the challenges have noting to do with them as individuals. The challenges have to do with the to do list. Navigating the appointments, tasks, and life stuff of a household of seven is kind of like playing Tetris; you fit blocks in the best spot possible, and as soon as you figure that one out another starts down the pike. It is challenging, it is trying, and it is 100% worth it. Add on top of that ministry, husbandry, and life in general and you have the possibility of meltdown at any moment. And when there is a meltdown; lots of people are affected. We do not meltdown in a vacuum. Just because it is worth it does not mean it is easy. In fact, it might mean quite the opposite.
Balancing our attitudes can be like a seesaw; on one end is the trying and challenging; sitting opposite of the things that make it all worth it. Throughout our days our attitudes and outlooks go along for the ride- sometimes the stress rises to the top, and sometimes the best rises to the top- and sometimes we are just plain stuck in the middle. Tippsy-toppsy, always shifting, always moving; our attitudes and reactions wax and wane; sometimes moment by moment.
The past few days my stress has risen to the top. It has gotten the best of me. The upcoming holidays; continued challenges related to COVID at church; a slew of appointments for our kids; a heart that is being pulled by situations in my life and in the lives of the people I care about the most. All these things threw my life, and frankly my heart, out of whack. Between Sunday evening and Monday morning my family felt the burn of my attitude and stress. They were merely innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire of my own pain.
It was my mother who finally broke me out of my tailspin (typical, right?). Her blunt call to “figure out what is making me so negative and fix it” rang in my ears all Sunday evening.
Finally, Monday morning came. I got the kids off to school; Jess was at work; and I made it to my recliner- just me, the dog, and Jesus. A little peace and quiet to clear my head. I asked some hard questions about my attitude and my troubles- and one of the Scriptures that I had memorized many years ago kept creeping to the forefront of my mind.
“Whether you eat or whether you drink; whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor 10:31
Easy for you to say, Paul! Am I right? No, hard for all of us to say; especially me on that day. Don’t get me wrong, I always try to do everything I do for the glory of God. Somedays that is more apparent than others, but glorifying God is a life purpose I value deeply.
You know what can easily block the glory of God? A garbage attitude! My attitude was blocking my ability to see God’s hand in everything and see the glory of God that was so apparent when my heart was in the right place. God’s glory was still there, I was just missing it; and it was nobody’s fault but my own.
“But God, how?” was my next question. How could I get back into place to see the glory of God in that place, and thus share that with others? Well, there was a follow up Scripture (that’s how these things go, right?).
“Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is anything of excellence, anything worthy of praise; think on these things.” Phil 4:8
And then I remembered last week when I took the boys to a basketball game. We were sitting all alone on a row, and a man came and sat down right in front of Elijah. Whenever he stood up- quite frequently to note- Elijah couldn’t see a thing. So, a couple minutes into the first half Elijah simply picked up his coat and water and moved down a few seats. He did not complain, or whine, or make a big deal out of it- he just moved and changed his perception. Problem solved, he was happy. The game was still there; and the man was still there; nothing had changed on their parts- something changed on Elijah’s part. It’s humbling when you get schooled by an eleven-year-old!
So, that was my challenge from God on Monday; and still today. To allow him to change my perspective. To focus on the praiseworthy things.
I have a full schedule- but God gave me some amazing kids to do life with!
COVID has reshaped the church- but we still have the fellowship of believers!
I may not get to have the holidays with my family- but I am still going to be thankful, and Jesus is still God incarnate.
And the list goes on…..
Maybe you need to change your perception today. You may have a garbage attitude (or someone’s head) blocking your view. You might not be able to change that; but you can change you. Through the power of God’s Spirit and the encouragement of the Word we can all get a little perception change.