The other day my little girl, Aletheia, came down the stairs with a very determined look on her face.
“Mommy,” she said. “I have some very bad news for you.”
“Uh-oh,” I said. “What’s that?”
“No more writing group for you! I am putting up a big sign that says, “No Mommies Allowed at Writing Group!”
“What?” I said. “Why would you do that?”
Aletheia looked at me and replied, “It gives me a bad attitude.”
For almost a year now I have been taking one evening each week to attend writing group. For the most part, Aletheia doesn’t seem to mind my absence, but every now and then she struggles when it’s time for me to leave.
“But mommy, I don’t want you to go to writing group,” has become a common protest in our house around 6:00 on Thursday evenings.
I feel for her, I do. But I also know what she is too young to understand. Writing group doesn’t just make me a better writer, it also makes me a better mom.
As Aletheia stood before me, hands on her hips, nose scrunched, brow crinkled, I smiled and calmly replied, “How bout’ I keep going to writing group and together we work on your attitude.”
Later, as I thought of our exchange, I realized that I do this too…a lot! Just like my daughter, I’m guilty of having a bad attitude when things don’t go my way, and I am certain that God would love to have the same conversation with me.
I can imagine it would go something like this:
Me: “Lord, it’s not fair! Why can’t my child sleep through the night? She’s two years old for goodness sake! I think we need to put up big a sign that says “No bragging on Facebook about babies who sleep through the night at only three weeks of age!”
Me: “Lord, I’ve had enough. If my husband makes me pick up his socks off this floor One. More. Time. I’m Going. To. Scream. I’m going on strike! I think we need to put up a big sign that says, “No socks (or underoos) on the floor, ever again. Period!”
I can see God smiling as He calmly replies: “Jennifer, how bout’ we leave the proud parents and socks on the floor alone and together work on your attitude.”
Ouch! Sometimes we mommies have far more in common with our little ones than we care to admit or see.
When my attitude revolves around whatever it is I’m not getting, what I’m losing, what I’m missing out on I want to change my circumstances or other people to fit my ideal. But God wants the opposite. Instead of changing my circumstances he wants me to change my attitude. Instead of changing other people he wants me to change my heart.
I can’t control my circumstances. I can’t control other people. But I can control the focus of my heart and I can control my attitude.
Instead of dwelling on what I’m not getting, I can choose to dwell on what I’ve been given. Instead of dwelling on what I’m losing, I can choose to dwell on what I have. Instead of dwelling on what I’m missing out on, I can choose to dwell on what I’m gaining through each situation I face.
Just as my daughter may not understand my reasons for going to writing group, I may not understand God’s reasons or ways He works in my life. But I can understand that His ways are perfect, that He is for me and that He is always working for my greater good.
Whether it’s crying toddlers in the middle of the night, a husband who will never learn to pick his clothes up off floor or other grievances both big and small, the truth is I am never loosing. Through Christ, I am always gaining for I am always given grace.
With hands on my hips, nose scrunched, brow crinkled, I’m following my daughter’s lead. (Sometimes we mommies can learn from our little ones.) I’m putting up a big sign that says, “No more bad attitudes.”