Chinese fan goodAn alleged Chinese proverb says, “May you live in interesting times.” I can certainly appreciate why this purported curse keeps surfacing…the more eventful our world gets, the more I wish I were living in some quiet backwater of history where nothing ever  happens.

But of course I’m not.  And while it behooves me to have an opinion on current events, whether it’s Syria (Should we bomb them?) or Obamacare (Should we ban it?), the BIG issues are not ultimately in my control.

But my attitude towards daily life IS in my control.

We had a quote on our refrigerator for years. It’s attributed to Charles Swindoll, a prolific writer and speaker, a pastor and seminary president. The quote is all over the internet, but since I can’t find an exact source for it, I’m considering it suspect. The one phrase which stuck with me, however, is one you may have heard before:

“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.” 

Joy & StrengthI was reminded of this quote yesterday, while reading one of my favorite little quote books, Mary Wilder Tileston’s 1901 compilation called Joy and Strength. Here’s the quote:

“There is no other way in which one’s life will be so surely, so quickly transfigured, as in the faithful, happy, cheerful doing of every-day tasks.  We need to remember that this world is not so much a place for doing things as for making character.  Right in the midst of what some people call drudgery is the very best place to get the transformed, transfigured life. The doing of common tasks patiently, promptly, faithfully, cheerfully,makes the character beautiful and bright. But we must take heed always that we do our tasks, whatever they are, with love in our hearts. Doing any kind of work unwillingly, with complaint and murmuring, hurts the life.”

James Russell Miller (1840 – 1912)

It strikes me that no matter how ‘interesting’ one’s times become, there will always be tedious tasks to be done. Short of the apocalypse, clothes and dishes will still need to be washed, food will need to be cooked, some semblance of housecleaning will be expected. Bills will need to be paid, and taxes filed. The dog will require food and exercise, the car will need maintenance.

For many of us–OK, for me–it’s alarmingly easy to convince myself that the more interesting tasks at hand are the more important ones. I am then free to resent and/or ignore the mundane duties, …although they never magically go away.

Perhaps if our Congress could do the prosaic work of passing a Budget, instead of passing the buck, our times would be less ‘interesting.’ (Perhaps if we elected men of character, this would not be an issue.)

But despite these weighty issues, there is one inescapable fact in my life right now.

I have to go wash the dishes.

washing dishes

15 responses to “Attitude

  1. Love it sister! Yep, according to God’s Word, we are not only appointed for the time we are in, we are called to live it in Joy! 😀 There is no way this is humanly possible of course, especially when one is doing the dishes LOL but when we make the choice to do all things as if we are doing them for the Lord, His Joy naturally fills us! AMEN 😀

    p/s: you missed a spot 😉

    • I wonder if that’s why JOY dish detergent was invented? Thanks for the Amen, sister! I wish it were as easy to achieve as to say, “Do everything for the Lord’s glory”…but we keep trying!

  2. Oh so true! Must keep my mind on God to help me keep my attitude.
    I’m indoctrinating myself each day by reading His word to help me with my daily tasks and helping to keep me sane. Otherwise, I will lose it. REALLY! Thanks for your blogs.

    • I agree that starting my day with the Lord makes a huge difference–both to my attitude and my energy, oddly enough. You are most welcome, Daisy. Thanks for reading!

  3. livinrightinpgh

    “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” Colossians 3:23 – 24 (NIV)

    I truly believe that as we approach those “day-to-day” tasks, WHATEVER they might be, an attitude of gratitude combined with character that honors our Lord and Savior makes ALL the difference.

    People ARE so easily distracted by what’s going on around them. Frankly, I believe much of what we see today is planned and purposeful for that very much intended outcome of “confusion”. Hence, people feel “out of control”. Mom always taught us that “there are 3 things, my sons, that you can control: What you THINK, what you SAY, and what you DO.”

    • I love Colossians 3:23! Back when I was freelancing and had to prepare invoices, I put it at the bottom of each one, hoping someone would look it up…Thanks as always for your pertinent input, PGH!

  4. Always a great reminder, Sissy: can’t allow the insanity of the ebb and flow outside to ruin what’s truly essential.
    My kids won’t recall any of this, but they WILL remember if I’m a no-show for a birthday party, or if they suddenly don’t eat for awhile.

    My beautiful and wise wife usually reminds me with this:
    (John 15:19) – “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”

    Which usually brings my heart rate back down to normal, and I can concentrate on life again.
    Nice post. And thanks…


    • Your wife IS wise and beautiful! So glad you are a team! And you are very welcome, bro. Always happy to put my two cents in.

      • Your two cents is incredibly valuable, sister-o-mine.
        Without your input, this could quickly devolve into the Outrage Of The Day, …and we both know there’s no shortage of THAT!

        You quite literally save me from myself.
        Thanks, as always.

  5. Ah the temptation of the quiet backwater! It is calling to me…

  6. Hi GBL. Your post about attitude reminded me of Earl Nightingale’s advice. Here is some suggested video viewing:

    Earl Nightingale
    The Strangest Secret: Part 1
    The Strangest Secret: Part 2
    The Strangest Secret: Part 3

    God Bless,
    – Jeff

    • Thanks, N&PG! I went and watched part 1 and 3…he’s a good speaker. In fact I had an odd sense of deja vu. Made me wonder whether some teacher played this film for us in grade school. I’m not consciously familiar even with the name Earl Nightingale. Thanks for sharing this. He preached a good secular sermon on purposeful living.

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