Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Follow these simple steps, and you too can be a miserable person!

"You're a rotter, Mr. Grinch 
You're the king of sinful sots 
Your heart's a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots 
Mr. Gri-inch! 
You're a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce!"

 I have seen 4 cars run red lights right in front of me in the last 24 hours. 4. Had I gone the moment my light turned green, I would have been hit. I could have been hit 4 times in the last 24 hours. And it is only December 17th!

On my way to take my littlest to school this morning, someone cut in front of me and then proceeded to drive 20 below the speed limit. I wasn't late, (amazingly!) but still I grit my teeth in frustration at the gaul of said driver. How DARE they get in my way?!? Why can't anyone in this city drive correctly!?!

Then I had an epiphany, lightning, struck my brain! Ok, perhaps it was not near so catastrophic as that.  Perhaps closer to the truth, is that I had a moment of conviction.

The person that cut me off had just come out of the gas station. They were driving an old van that had what my husband refers to as "the blue smoke of death" coming out of the back. A thousand possible stories ran through my head all at once:

 - Single mom of 4 kids, dad long gone. She spent her last $10 on gas to get home to see her family for just a short while before starting a long sought after job that would cause her to work on Christmas day. She NEEDS to get home to see her babies, even just for that short time.

- The car didn't work at first, if she doesn't make it to this meeting she will be fired.  She said a prayer of faith and tried once more and the car sputtered to life. Filled with thankfulness she pulled into the road without looking properly.  God knew I was paying attention, I was a part of her gift.

- Brand new Grandma just got word that her first grandson was just born - perhaps healthy, but maybe she gets only a short time with him due to a medical condition. The faster she gets there, the more time she gets. Every moment is precious.   

- Military wife/mother, just the call that her husband/son came back early and gets to be home for Christmas! Or perhaps he wont, perhaps her vision was blurred with tears and she just needed to get away, far away.

Thank you God, for the woman who pulled out in front of me today. I pray blessings on her and those she loves. I pray protection, I pray for health and joy and a long life for her dying van! Keep it running so long as it is needed.

Ah you see? Perhaps I am the only one who will pray for her this Christmas. Perhaps she needed it desperately and God knew, so he put her in my way. Thank you God, for putting her in my way.

It is funny to me how everyone's stress and aggression seems to come out while they are driving. It is as if we feel anonymous in our cage of metal, we will take liberties we never would have dreamed of had our name been attached to the action. How would your car look, if your name was pasted to the side of it in bold, bright letters every time you did something that was inconsiderate of those around you - regardless of how they were acting first? Would we make different choices if our sins were visible wherever we went?

As I was growing up, my mom had a sign up in the livingroom that read "Choose Joy." As I have battled the many challenges of parenthood, health, marriage and just general adulthood with its money, time and life challenges - that sign often flashes through my mind.

Choose Joy.  

You see, we like complaining. It is fun. It makes us feel important, it makes us feel close when we complain together. We enjoy feeling wronged, we like it even more when we get something out of it. "You wronged me, fix it now! You now owe me BIG time!"

My beloved mother recently celebrated a birthday.  And to celebrate becoming more wise, as birthdays are apt to do - she posted a list of "joy robbers."

To encourage you to Choose Joy this Christmas season, I wanted to post this list.  I know especially with all the stress that the holidays seem to bring, I regularly need a reminder that true joy is a choice, and not something that the world owes me.

Do me a favor. Read each line twice, slower the second time. And listen.

Linda Evans

1. Be a chronic complainer.

2. Demand unconditional love from people....no matter how you behave.

3. Throw temper tantrums when you get mad.

4. Do what you want to do, whenever you want to do it.

5. Demand instant gratification for your desires.

6. Think people should be able to read your mind.

7. Believe the world owes you.

8. Expect others to take care of you and solve your problems.

Did you listen?

We are all guilty! I know I am. 

So tell me, has your mind started forming "Buts" and "reason why" yet? Let me save you some time (and as always, know that I speak to myself here as well). You are not special, you are not the exception. You don't get a free pass because of xyz. You are accountable for your own attitude, regardless of the circumstance. 

Say it with me: I am the master of my own attitude!

Whats more, as the mom, I am the one that chooses the attitude of my home. That is a big responsibility, and one that I all too often take lightly. Today, will I choose stress? Annoyance? Distraction? Anger? Will I choose indifference, condescension? Will I choose to be the victim? Making all those around me feel guilty for unknown faults? Will I choose to be the aggressor? Making all those around me feel half of who they should be in order to bend to my will, my whims, my unpredictable flares of temper? Where will I find my joy? From the cowering of others? From the affirmation of others? From the neglect of others? Will I make myself feel strong by forcing others to feel weak? Will I find my joy in sharing misery with others? Will I find my joy in things? Will I find my joy in how much I can get from others? Or will I decide that joy is not worth my time - after all, I tried being nice and it got me no where. Why bother? Throw it all down, let us hate the world, Christmas, consumerism, hypocrites, drama, "fake people," let us be hateful together!

Choose Joy.

I am the master of my own attitude. This is not "how I happen to feel today." This has nothing to do with feelings. It is possible to be sad, and yet be filled with joy. Happiness does not = joy. Joy brings happiness, not the other way around. And it does not happen all at once, it is a process. And it starts with the choice.

Choose Joy.

Choose to let go of everything else. Take a deep breath, let it out. And Choose Joy.

Does this post make you angry? Annoyed? Feel inadequate? Good. It does the same to me. I have a hundred excuses you see, choosing joy is not easy. It is not comfortable. There are days I downright hate it. Being wronged by the world is comfortable. I like that. It releases me from responsibility. Being responsible is uncomfortable and takes lots of energy that I just don't have. Choosing Joy can be the most difficult thing we ever have to do, and it has to be done over and over and over. But it is good, oh it is good! And you know what? You do deserve it. You deserve Joy, it is a gift that has been given to you because you are so incredibly special! You are exceptional! And this gift has been given to you, to me for absolutely free! 

What difference will it make in the life of my children if I Choose Joy today? If I can model the opposite of those things listed above for them? What difference would it make in my marriage? In my friends, my family, in my own life? How amazing would that be? 

Father God, this Christmas I pray for Joy. I pray it for my family, for my friends. I pray it for my husband and for my children. I pray it for me. Joy unbounded, beyond logic, beyond words. I pray for your joy, so complete that everything else fades in comparison. I think you for the gift you gave to us, your baby boy. Your Joy, in human form.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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