My wife and I met a colleague for dinner last evening. We shared stories, laughed, and even shared a struggle or two. Mostly, however, we smiled, talked, and enjoyed each other’s company.
As I listened to Gina and watched her interact with my wife, I was struck with one thing—she was filled with joy, as was my wife. Their energy, enthusiasm and excitement for life was indeed contagious—I watched it flow back and forth between Christie and Gina.
My observation of their joy was not at first readily apparent. They simply smiled a lot, shared the delight of their children, travels, friends and work—and difficulties. However, as the evening progressed, I realized both faced struggles with an attitude a bit different than mine. They seemed to accept these challenges as a natural part of life, not as an intruder into an otherwise wonderful life.
Their attitude toward challenges was distinctly different than mine. Christie has a way of saying, “Oh well, we’ll figure it out,” when talking about something that is difficult. Then she bounces back to a lighter aspect of the conversation. Not me—too often I allow these “downers” to weigh me down, to put a cloud over an otherwise shinning evening.
Now I’m aware that I’m painting myself as a bit of a curmudgeon, which is not the case. But, I face challenges as unwanted guests to dinner party. I allow them in, reluctantly, but they must sit at a table in the corner. They are served last and my lack of welcoming attitude is apparent to all who take notice.
Furthermore, I allow these unwanted intruders to put a damper on my evening. They chatter in my mind, taking away from the welcomed guests. They speak negativity over my otherwise delightful time with those guests I welcome.
But, again, Christie and Gina don’t share the same attitude. They have an uncanny way of weaving challenges into the conversation. Challenges and triumphs sit together, each influencing and sharing with the other. Both triumphs and trials are greeted as expected guests, both deserving of time, but not allowed to steal joy.
The Apostle James has the same attitude as Christie and Gina: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2-3)
Consider it pure joy? Wow. I’ve got a way to go before I get there, however, I’m praying for that kind of attitude.
Let’s consider some of additional steps necessary for discovering and experiencing the joy promised by this Scripture.
First, take responsibility for your attitude. While it may seem trite, we choose our attitudes. Too often we see attitudes as something that fly out of the sky and land on our heads. We even talk that way—“I’m in a bad mood.” Wait, “I’m choosing a bad mood.”
Second, recognize you choose your attitude. Yes, we choose our attitude. We can influence how we view problems. We can choose to notice the many blessings in our lives and the struggles as a natural part of the entirety of our lives. Look around—everyone has problems. You are not uniquely given challenges. Everyone has them and you can choose how you will face them.
Third, see challenges as a natural part of life. When we realize that challenges will always be part of our lives, and we can tackle them, we take the power away from them. They don’t have to ruin an evening or day. In fact, as the Apostle James says, they can cause us to grow in ways that blessings cannot.
Fourth, explore the gift in the challenge. Challenges and struggles cause us to grow in ways that good times cannot. They reveal our character and personality. Challenges cause us to pull together, reach out for help and even lean on God. Challenges cause us to deepen our character. They cause us to become better problem solvers and see others in richer, deeper ways.
Finally, thank God for these challenges. God only gives good gifts. Scripture says “All things work together for good.” (Romans 8:28) Do you believe this? Every blessing and struggle can work together for my good. Thank God for everything that comes into your life.
Do you feel joy in your life? Do you need an attitude adjustment? Would you like help in defining and facing problems? If you would like further help, we are here for you. Please send responses to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website and learn about our Personal and Marriage Intensives.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: February 7, 2017