Choosing My Attitude.
I woke up today with a start. I hadn’t looked at my phone yet, but I already knew I was running late. 10:45am. Very late. Church starts in 15 minutes and I have pillow marks on my face! Heart pounding, I jumped out of bed. Man, is it hot in my room. I threw on shorts and a t-shirt, grabbed my wallet and keys which were lying on my dresser from the night before, brushed my teeth, and ran out the door. Amidst my personal chaos, I did managed to call my friends who were undoubtedly waiting for my arrival at church so we could all sit together. “I just woke up. I’m on my way!” I told them.
I knew I was pushing the speed limits but to be honest, I hadn’t really noticed the posted signs. The first one that caught my eye said “30.” I was going 57. Shit. I hit the brakes and as I did, I happened to look right. Naturally, I was met with the sign of a cop car looping around a parking lot toward the exit. Awesome. This is a great way to start a day.
I pulled into the next parking lot after he flipped the lights and gathered my information. My GPS had said I would arrive at church with 2 minutes to spare. I guess I messed that up. He was a pleasant man, younger and talkative. He asked me how long I’d lived here, how fast I thought I was allowed to go, and where I had gotten on the road. It seemed like things were going well until he handed back my insurance and registration and walked back to his car with my license in hand.
When he returned, he handed me back my license along with a speeding ticket. As he explained what he had written, tears welled up and began to stream down my now beat-red face. He looked slightly downtrodden as he asked if I had any questions for him. At this point, I couldn’t even choke out a response so I just shook my head. He told me that he knows that no one likes getting tickets and I think I heard him sigh as he walked back to his patrol car.
I attempted to compose myself over the next mile I had to drive before arriving in the church parking lot, but I was still on edge when I walked through the double doors. I knew I would be met with teasing and sarcasm over being late and I also know my tendency to lash out in these type of situations; I tried to talk myself into patience and did with moderate success. I took my seat and endured some playful jabs until I finally just reached down into my purse and pulled out the ticket. No more jokes until I can get it together, please.
A few tear drops and a couple of hokey children’s songs later, I made a decision. I would allow myself to feel frustrated and upset, but I would not allow it to ruin my day. I have the power to choose my attitude. I could choose to mope around and feel sorry for myself all day or I could choose to give an appropriate amount of time to my negative emotions and then simply move on.
I’ll admit, realization is not a cure all. I’m still upset about my morning and I’m not as happy-go-lucky today as you might assume is my nature had you caught me last week, but I’m enjoying my day and my company. I’m not allowing myself to sit alone and wallow. I’m making the choice to accept my morning and direct my afternoon – in a different direction, a more positive direction. Good for me.
Proverbs and the Staying Power of Ink.
It may sound ridiculous, but I realized today that I haven’t given much thought to the surrounding verses of Proverbs 19:21. Ridiculous because that particular verse is tattooed permanently on my body. Proverbs 19:21, as I have stated before, reads, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
It’s a beautiful verse and one that carries a lot of personal meaning to me. But is it enough that I know the verse by heart if I don’t know the background or context within which it falls? Certainly not! Taking verses out of context has created much controversy within the Christian world. In addition, I think it’s one of the laziest and most scattered methods of teaching when it comes to a Sunday sermon.
So why would I, someone with a personal pet peeve against it, have embraced this sort of pick-and-choose method for something that will stay with me until my skin falls from my body? (Psalm 73:26 (the runner-up for tattoo choices): “My body and flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”)
Well quite frankly, I chose it because it spoke to me and continues to do so. That being said, it’s time to examine the rest of Proverbs 19:
Verse (1): “Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse. (2) It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way. (3) A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord. (4) Wealth brings many friends, but a poor man’s friend deserts him. (5) A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free. (6) Many curry favor with a ruler, and everyone is the friend of a man who gives gifts. (7) A poor man is shunned by all his relatives—how much more do his friends avoid him! Though he pursues them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found. (8) He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers. (9) A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will perish. (10) It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury—how much worse for a slave to rule over princes! (11) A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (12) A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass. (13) A foolish son is his father’s ruin and a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping. (14) Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord. (15) Laziness brings on deep sleep and the shiftless man goes hungry. (16) He who obeys instructions guards his life but he who is contemptuous of his ways will die. (17) He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done. (18) Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death. (19) A hot tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again. (20) Listen to advice and accept instruction, in the end you will be wise. (21) Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (22) What a man desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar. (23) The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble. (24) The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he will not even bring it back to his mouth! (25) Flog a mocker and the simple will learn prudence; rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge. (26) He who robs his father and drives out his mother is a son who brings shame and disgrace. (27) Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. (28) A corrupt witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil. (29) Penalties are prepared for mockers, and beatings for the backs of fools.
Deciphering A Calling.
The sermon today regarded callings and finding our own callings in life. The pastor told us of his own experience following his calling and in his retelling, he brought up an interesting notion. He says that often your desire and your calling conflict one another. That rather than the two being synonymous with one another, they can pull you in different directions.
He offers two steps for leaving desires and becoming open to God’s call. Step one: Resignation. Step Two: Acceptance. He continued on to say that resignation and acceptance are also used hand-in-hand but in fact they differ in the tone within which they are used. Resignation, he says, is so important because it allows the opportunity for grief – grief for the doors that are closed when a decision is made and also, at times, grief over the bad involved with following a calling.
Resignation and acceptance.
I am working get myself to this point. I think that I currently fight resignation because I am afraid of closing doors that I for so long felt were necessary to pass through.
Food for thought.