I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my friends say something like: “choose your attitude” or “change your attitude” to their kiddos.
Although my tantrums might not look as fierce as a three-year-old’s, my attitude really is an hourly choice. So often I want to let my feelings take full reign of the situation.
During an average day my feelings fluctuate greatly from high to low. Encouraging texts, beautiful days, and time with friends bolsters my emotions. Those same emotions can tank when just about anything doesn’t go my way: the grocery store line is long, the other car in the parking lot is rude, and the friend forgets my birthday. But the question, in the midst of those extremes, is how will I respond? While I don’t get to choose how everyone else behaves, I can choose my attitude. Lysa Terkeurst, in her book Unglued, explains the dilemma perfectly when she says, “Feelings are indicators, not dictators.” Feelings can help me see where pride, self-centeredness, and anger threaten to dictate my behavior.
God’s Word prescribes something different than an explosive response for those less than ideal moments.
“Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8, NIV
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:5-6
Feelings are not the enemy! Feelings simply indicate a potential bad attitude culprit: our selfishness. The Bible shows us a great course of action for the next time we want to throw a tantrum.
Sink lower. Follow the example of Jesus and release those thoughts of entitlement. Open the Word and stay challenged.
Pray! Ask God to see you through this challenging moment. Don’t hold back the feelings, tell Him exactly how you feel, and then ask that he would let your response be a gentle one to the world around you.
Repeat steps 1-2.
Just this morning I was quoting that verse from Philippians 2 when I wasn’t getting my way. The change didn’t occur instantly, but I’m so thankful the Lord spoke to my heart and quieted my angry pride before I responded in a way I would later regret.
The temptation to let my emotions rule my response is a minute-by-minute fight. I have to stay aware and on guard!
Here’s to fighting a good fight and choosing wisely. Remember: your attitude is your choice.