My wife Morgan told me about a quote she once read as a teenager. Her dad made her read it when she lost the plot* because of a door ding on her car. She didn’t appreciate it at the time, but has since grown to really appreciate its truth:
“The longer I love, 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.” – Charles R. Swindoll
There isn’t much to add to that really, I think the idea speaks for itself. I would, however, like to add this one little nugget.
I’ve always been amazed at the attitude of the apostles throughout the books of Acts. Acts 5:40-41 is where their impressive attitudes are first described: “they beat [the apostles] and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.“
I always read this and thought, “who does that?! Who rejoices when they get beaten?!” The apostles showed an attitude that is far beyond my abilities in such a situation.
And perhaps that is the key. In order to have an attitude that rejoices, even in times of challenge and darkness, we need God’s strength. I don’t have the ability, but God does. When I seek Him out, He changes my heart. And it is from this heart that our attitudes reach the surface.
We live in a broken world, but it still carries the echoes of Eden. You will experience disappointment, heartache, pain, and sorrow. You will also experience joy, success, friendship. As humans, our tendency is to look inward when both bad or good things happen. “How could this terrible thing happen to me?” or “It is so awesome that I am successful.”
Instead, in both the good times and the bad, we should turn our hearts to worship God. He is the Author of life, and developing an attitude of worship for Him will ensure we experience the most fulfilling life possible.
*Lost the Plot is a commonly used phrase in New Zealand that means “To cease to behave in a consistent and/or rational manner.”