There’s an old saying that your attitude determines your altitude. I heard this a lot throughout school and felt secure knowing that I would reach great heights because I did not have a bad attitude, except when necessary.
These necessary situations were: if someone was annoying me, if I was tired or if I was hungry. The latter being a situation that my friends know all too well, as they are often forced to wait as “hungry Danielle” takes her first bite of food, in order to transform from the Hulk back to her human form.
However, although we all joke about this version of me, I was convicted by the Holy Spirit a few weeks ago after insulting one of my friends during a hunger spell. This led me to wonder whether God sees situations where our tolerance level is naturally lowered as a legitimate reason to have a bad attitude.
Stop annoying me!
We all have things that completely annoy us, mine include: incessant talking and unnecessary, unapologetic lateness. Recently, my patience was truly tested in the latter as I set out to have a lovely Sunday afternoon at the movies.
Although I had planned to enjoy some “me time” with a large popcorn and a slushy, after chatting with a friend just before buying my ticket the plan changed. With an hour to go before the movie started my friend told me that they would quickly return home for their jacket. As the time for the movie approached I called them and to my utter dismay they had not yet arrived at home.
My immediate thought was, how dare they turn up at the last minute and ruin my perfect Sunday afternoon plan? Nonetheless, I reminded myself that there would be about fifteen minutes of advertisements before the start of the film and calmed down. As the time ticked on I began to get angry and could not stop thinking about how disrespectful they were.
In the midst of these angry thoughts the Holy Spirit reminded me that I had two choices in this situation. I could keep calling them and have a bad attitude whenever they arrived. Or I could choose not to stress myself out and find something to do while I waited patiently. He also asked me how I wanted them to remember me, for having had a terrible attitude or as the friend who extended grace to them when they did not deserve it.
I chose the latter and about twenty minutes later when they finally arrived apologising repeatedly, I could honestly tell them that it was ok. That evening I enjoyed the movie without the weight of thinking about how much my friend had disrespected me and needed to change their ways. In place of these thoughts I was able to see my own unhealthy actions and make the choice to have patience and extend grace.
A friend reminded me this week that our lack of tolerance for other people’s sin can often blind us to our continued tolerance for our own sins. Jesus’ reminder of this is recorded in Matthew chapter 7 verses 3-5, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye... Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
A perfect example of this hypocrisy would have been if I angrily pointed out my friend’s actions instead of realising that I have been using my intolerance for other people’s lateness as a way to avoid addressing my own impatience.
Although there are other situations in which people do far more inconsiderate things that annoy us, before we accept our free pass to have a bad attitude, I challenge us to ask ourselves these questions:
1. What would Jesus do? Being that He is our ultimate example this simple thought is one of the most useful questions that we can ask ourselves on a daily basis.
2. Is it worth it? We can lose a lot more than we gain in a moment of anger, for example our inner peace, our relationship with that person and our reputation as Christians.
3. Is this bad attitude a mask for my own sin?
4. How can I speak to this person in love?
Out of my control
By this point you might be wondering how this applies to situations like tiredness or hunger when one’s level of tolerance is severely low. My suggestion is to become aware of when you are starting to display a bad attitude and try to control it until you can extinguish it with some food or rest.
If possible you could also just let the people around you know how you are feeling and go off by yourself. As Jesus often went off to a quiet place after a long day of speaking in order to recharge. Although these feelings are hard to control, we ought to remind ourselves that our low tolerance in this state is no excuse to hurt others. As they may still be hurt or offended after we have gotten over our bad mood.
All that I am sharing is what I am in the process of learning and applying to my life, as I try my best to tame hungry, tired and impatient Danielle. If you can relate to this I invite you to join me in abandoning our bad attitudes as we aim for the heights of Christlikeness.
Danielle Jones was born on the beautiful island of Barbados to phenomenal parents. She currently works as an English Language teaching assistant at La Universidad Francisco de Paula Santander in the city of Cúcuta, Colombia. She hopes to be fluent in Spanish very soon, as well as to be an example of the love of Christ wherever she goes.
Danielle Jones was born on the beautiful island of Barbados to phenomenal parents. She is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Arts in Drama as a part of a joint programme between the University of the West Indies, Mona and the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Jamaica. She hopes to speak fluent Spanish someday, do global missionary work and spread the love of Christ.
Danielle Jones previous articles m ay be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/danielle-jones.html