It seems like just days ago, but it was actually years ago, my daughters and I had a conversation about attitudes. I am sure that any of you that either have children or were children have been involved in a conversation on this subject, and you can likely imagine how those conversations usually go. This particular conversation was focused on maturity and how we look at the world as opposed to how others might look at it.
When I was a teenager, I was pretty self-centered; although, at the time, you could have never have convinced me of that. I am a person who never wants to offend anyone, and I try hard to serve everyone that I can within my resources. I like to see other people happy, and if I can contribute to that then it gives me a sense of accomplishment and a warm feeling in my heart. I have been this way my whole life, but I am sure my parents would tell you that there was a time that I just didn’t get it, at all.
I remember thinking back over my life on many different occasions when I was younger and thinking of it in terms of what I had not been granted, where I was not served well, or where I felt I had been short-changed. I must admit that from time to time, even today, I fall into that trap. It is usually when I am tired or frustrated that I think this way but is in no way limited to those times.
I expressed to my daughters how it was important that they make an effort to look at not only what they didn’t have or what someone didn’t or wasn’t able to do for them, but to look also at what they did have and where someone else worked hard for them. After the conversation was completed, I began to look at myself and it became apparent that I needed to take my own advice.
It amazes me how easily I can look back over my life and point the finger at my parents, pastor, teachers, friends, neighbors, etc., as if they didn’t’ do the best they could with the resources they had at the time. What I often fail to remember are the circumstances surrounding each person individually and how they waded through all kinds of muckity muck to serve me in the best way they could. I was so self-absorbed that all I could see was what I wanted and how I wanted it and when. I rarely saw how much sacrifice and labor it took on their part in order for them to provide me with the knowledge and stability to have a successful life later on down the line. They made it possible for me to have options. I rarely saw the value of the lessons that were prefaced with the words, “Now later on in life this is going to serve you in this way,” because I didn’t care. All I cared about was getting what I wanted when I wanted it. Nowadays I call it my “inner three -year old.”
Fast forward to today, and ask if I still have moments where I am a little less than mature. Let me give you an example of how I (and maybe many other adults) allowed this type of thinking to influence me recently. Here is the general idea of my attitude during a recent time of frustration: “Man, I am so bored and so put-upon. I never seem to be happy anymore. If only I could find something that interested me that would be fun and inexpensive, I would surely be happier. And if I just had more money and if people just understood me more, then I could relax and have fun once in a while. Don’t people know how hard I work? They just don’t see everything that I do for this family, company, church, community…” and on, and on, and on, and on. Of course, these weren’t my exact thoughts but you get the idea.
The truth is I asked my wife to marry me. I asked for my children. I asked to join my church. I asked for the job I have. Nobody forced any of this on me. I asked for it, and God granted me blessings above and beyond what I asked for. Boy, what a whiner I can be!
In the workplace, I see people who complain about their jobs with the same attitude I have illustrated above. They would tell you, if in secret, that the company couldn’t survive without them. They make it seem as if the company tracked them down and begged them to come to work there. I remember applying for the job I have. I also remember my boss “giving” me this job. He GAVE it to me. He didn’t have to do it, but he did. So where do I get the right to sit back and act as if he owes me anything at all? Fact is I don’t.
Every time I have a little pity party, (we call it “Poochie Lip Disease”) I need to wake up and remind myself of all the people who are out of work or working at jobs that pay half of what they were making a couple of years ago just to provide food for their children or keep the heat or air running. Or maybe I should consider the police officer, fireman, military service person, or other public works personnel that do their jobs every day so that I can live my life in relative safety and comfort. That would be time well spent.
So the next time you get down and begin to think of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence, remember that it isn’t uncommon to think that way; but isn’t necessarily right. Usually, it isn’t.
And when you finish reading this, would you take a minute to consider, and possibly thank, all the people that take the time out of their day to ensure that your life keeps moving along in the right direction? Can we also thank the people who sacrificed on a daily basis to make sure that when we became adults we had as many options as possible? Chances are we can’t begin to imagine what struggles they worked through just to give us those options.
Tiff, Cala, and Neek used to sing this song when they were little:
“The poochie lip will getcha if you don’t watch out!
The poochie lip will getcha if you start to pout!
So take this little tip, and control that lower lip,
and chase away the poochie lip disease!”
I realize that this particular story isn’t that funny and I apologize for that. I promise the next ones will be on the lighter side.
May God bless and keep you. Thanks for reading.