“I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed.” Ezekiel 36:26 (The Message)
Well, it only took the evil one about an hour to get the memo that I was done with a lousy attitude. He sure knows where to hit and tries his best to knock me over. And, he almost succeeded, several times on the day I declared I had quit.
The first instance revolved around finances. I had taken one of our kids for an appointment and returned with disappointing news. Without realizing it, I attempted to regain the loss of control I was feeling and stomped on valuable relationships with careless words. The minute they were out I knew what I had done and regretted them. God, in His grace and knowing my heart, allowed the family member I was sharing with to extend me grace, I apologized and explained where my words were coming from, and we not only salvaged the evening, but, instead took it to a newer level of trust and security.
Instead of icy silence, we all congregated outside while Bill grilled chicken laughing and catching up about the day. We continued enjoying the simple pleasure of spending time together during dinner while I just enjoyed the sound of laughter escaping through the open windows.
A few hours later came the next test. While I referred to dog poop previously, this time our little puppy had trouble controlling his bladder due to us not paying attention to the clock. Normally this would put my stress level up a notch, but instead we all pitched in and cleaned it up quickly while I thanked God for reminding me that relationships are still more important than stuff.
I blew it during the next test, though, when I was stuck cleaning up yet another mess. It was a noticeably calmer reaction than I’ve had previously, however, I still felt badly that I got upset at all. I quickly apologized to the offended party for reacting and reminded the person I cared more about him than I did sweeping up pellets.
I had to work late that night and finally fell into bed after midnight with an early morning wakeup call of 5:20 a.m. That usually spells crabby, impatient and stressed mother. However, I noticed a difference when I woke up. There was still a lot of work to be accomplished and the agenda was long, but my patience level was longer. I approached the work with a team mindset, remembering to honor one child’s request to give one direction at a time, to phrase my directions with more love than command, and to remember that reminders doesn’t mean I’m not being listened to – it means kids get distracted and need reminders.
The enemy tried a few more times that morning to see if I really was done or wanted to go back to old habits. It started when we had to dump a whole batch of lemonade down the drain because someone forgot to wash the container out first. Instead of thinking of the money lost, I thought about the child’s feelings which were much more valuable. A little later, the six-year-old lost the leash of the puppy and he took off running. My first thought this time, though, was of my child’s feelings and not any lesson that needed to be learned. He knew he messed up and by the time I got there to help him, he had captured the escapee and I was able to build up his confidence by praising his quick thinking instead of focusing on the mistake.
While I quit perfectionism quite nicely yesterday (the above examples show I’m far from perfect), I still have work to do with reprogramming my attitude adjustment. However, the difference comes from having God first change my heart toward one that is closer to who He is. Now when I mess up, I’m quicker to realize it because my heart changed first. With consistent practice I hope my whole family sees the change in my actions as well.
While done is much harder than I previously thought, it’s worth taking the time to make it my default button. My family is definitely worth the effort too.
© Cheri Swalwell 2015