“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV)
God has been working on my attitude for the past six years. Okay, let me be completely honest. God has been working on my attitude my whole life. One of my most vivid memories is being called out in fifth grade by my music teacher for rolling my eyes after he gave a direction. I didn’t even realize I did it, but I did and still feel guilty about it 35+ years later.
Even though I don’t mean to, I have a tendency to grumble and complain, and at times, my memory can be so short that even if God came through in a miraculous way last week, I’m focused on how He didn’t show up the way I wanted Him to this week instead.
However, while I’m a slow learner, God has truly been working on this area in my life and I’m starting to see progress. I’m continually reminded from Bible story after Bible story that miracles/breakthroughs happen after the thanksgiving. Paul and Silas were released from prison after staying up all night “praying and singing hymns to God,” and even though God released them, they chose to stay. As a result, many of the prison guards and their families all became part of the family of God that night.
There has been a situation in my life, one of my own doing, that I have asked God to release me from for several years. Several long years. I’ve begged, pleaded, thanked Him ahead of time (hoping to persuade Him to answer quicker), all while nurturing and feeding my miserable attitude and spirit.
I’m not sure the exact moment it happened but sometime last fall, all that God has been teaching me for the past three years about this situation clicked into place. I realized, “This is where I am in life right now. My situation may change in the future, but for now, this is where God has placed me. I have a choice. I can be miserable and choose to wake up every morning dreading the day … or I can choose joy despite my circumstances and find the blessings in living life for Him.” No one else can choose for me … it’s my choice.
The next day I made a decision to praise God for every circumstance. If He closed a door of opportunity, I would thank Him for the closed door. I would look for the blessings in my life and choose to praise Him for those even if nothing else in my life was changing at this point.
A few days after I made this conscious decision, I was exercising with a friend and sharing with her my newfound attitude. I told her when I chose to have the right attitude, it truly did change my inward spirit and I was feeling more joy despite my situation.
Wanting to encourage me, she replied, “So you’re enjoying your situation now?”
“Oh no,” was my quick response, “I’m still hating it, but now I’m hating it with the right attitude.”
For me, it wasn’t enough to know I needed to thank God for all circumstances in life, even or especially the ones that were downright miserable. I needed to consistently choose the right attitude about the situation before my joy returned and I could honestly say while I still hate the situation and am ready and waiting for God to move in mighty ways, I’m hating it with the right attitude and that makes all the difference in the world.
© Cheri Swalwell 2018