I love mowing the yard. It’s a great opportunity for prayer and contemplation. This past week, the arrival of company on Friday, the serious need to have the lawn mower serviced and the long list of things on my to-do list before the company arrived meant that I was mowing our yard Thursday night after supper.
As I circled the yard and prayed for people I love the sunlight faded and the darkness deepened. By the time I was through, I was having trouble seeing all the details with the clarity that I would normally–although I must say the lightening bugs put on a fabulous show down in the lower section of our yard. As I rolled into the shop where my husband was creating beautiful things for upcoming shows, I told him, “Just so you know, there may be a few things sticking up out there tomorrow!” He jokingly responded, “There better not be!” to which I replied, “You know what? I guess you’ll just have to be in charge of what bugs you!”
And just like that…it hit me. We all are.
It’s a simple thing and it is not new, but it hit me hard: we’re all in charge of what bugs us.
We get to decide where to draw our own lines and how we respond to where others draw theirs. We get to decide. No more of this silly blaming others for making us angry or rude or sad or whatever other emotion we may choose to feel. We have the power to choose for ourselves.
We’ve always had it, you know. We’ve just allowed the cultural propensity for being the victim to erode our personal responsibility for our own actions…and attitudes. It’s been a poor choice. In every single situation we have the opportunity to ask the following questions:
- Is this really the way I want to respond?
- Is this really the way I want to spend my time and energy today?
- Is this really the way I want the people who see me respond this way to remember me?
- Is this the best response?
- Is there something I can learn from this situation–even if it is just “don’t do this again!”?
- What will my response tell others about what I believe…or Who I believe?
- What can my response teach others today?
We get to choose. It may be the only bit of power we have in the situation, but it is still powerful. In fact, just taking the time to ask yourself how you want to respond can give the time needed to make a better choice the next time someone draws their lines on top of yours.
All this contemplation reminded me of one of my favorite quotes that I shared with a friend just this past week, as well:
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.
Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.
And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.” –Chuck Swindoll
Chuck got it right…will we?
(In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that it is possible to know this, to write this and before the day is out…still make the wrong choice: the choice to be annoyed…and show it. It is also possible to recognize that you’ve done so, laugh really loud at yourself and, just like that…make a better choice. The main thing is this: be gentle with yourself and keep trying! We can do this! We get to be in charge of what bugs us.)