It happened again this morning. We were having an average day at home. The boys were running around and going from one activity to another. I was moving from room to room completing my morning chores. Even though there wasn’t anything especially out of the ordinary, I was finding myself getting frustrated at the smallest thing.
This happens enough that I am getting more adept at recognizing the symptoms and have given the syndrome its own name– a case of the grumps. It manifests itself in a few rather consistent ways. I am easily irritated. I feel discontent. I have a general malaise.
Basically, it means that I am not finding joy in my work, in my children, or in my lot.
Most of the time there is not one cause that I can put my finger on to explain my grumpy attitude. It just sneaks up and takes me by surprise as I go about my day. All of a sudden, I am impatient with my kids, short with my husband, or grumbling to the Lord. I may try to blame it on the weather or on being tired or on children who aren’t listening particularly well. There are innumerable scapegoats that I can employ to make me feel justified in my behavior. Really though, it’s important to recognize a grumpy attitude for what it is– sin in my heart. You see, we are called to “do everything without grumbling” (Phil 2:14), to “do your work heartily, as for the Lord” (Col 3:23), and to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4).
I shouldn’t write off a bad attitude as just “having a bad day”. Honoring Christ in my home means striving to love my family and serve Him with gladness. Plus it’s an example of a time when I can either settle for something far less than what God has for me, or live in His grace and enjoy the good gifts of my home and family.
Do you find yourself struggling with a grumpy attitude as you go about your day? Here are a few things that I have found to be helpful to change my attitude and start walking in joy again.
Honestly, one of the quickest tests I can run through my mind has to do with what I have eaten. Or what I need to eat. If I make poor breakfast choices, get so busy that I don’t make time to drink water, or forget to eat a snack, I can fall into a case of the grumps. For me, too much sugar in the morning is never a good idea. Most mornings our breakfast consists of green smoothies and eggs. If I change it up too much and don’t have a good breakfast I start crashing around 10 a.m. It is a simple fix and a great place to start.
I am a mom of three children, three and under. There is always a lot to do. However, when I make my to-do list the most important thing in my day, my attitude can suffer. The “interruptions” of children’s questions or needs can become irritating. Wishing I had more time or more energy or more “fill in the blank” can make me discontent. Choosing to be present with my kids and joining them in whatever they are doing for a while can make a big difference. What I am not getting done isn’t so important anymore. Building the biggest tower or creating a habitat for lions and tigers calms my heart and helps me remember the big picture.
3. Get away and pray.
Obviously I can’t leave my children unattended for an hour to go have a quiet time and pray. But I can go in my room for five to ten minutes to pray and read a chapter in the Bible. There have been many times when the Lord has given me just the encouragement I need to press on. It’s remarkable how easy it is to forget that God wants to give us grace and the strength we need for this race. Just being reminded of His love and faithfulness to me as His child is enough to fill my heart with joy and make me want to go give my kids bear hugs.
If you need a help thinking of where to turn when looking for a chapter to read quickly while you get away for a few minutes, I personally find reading a chapter in Ephesians or in Philippians–especially Philippians 4, to be very encouraging. Another idea is to download a good devotional you can read on your phone. Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening is a great devotional and is also a free app.
Enough said. Or maybe eating chocolate while trying to gain a better perspective. Remember the gospel. Count your blessings. I love the quote “Gratitude makes what I have enough.” This past weekend I was having a small pity party and I happened to see something on Instagram that made me remember how richly blessed I am. A change in perspective can be a beautiful thing.
5. Get outside.
Fresh air can be a miracle worker. I know this and yet I am still amazed at how quickly it can help everyone’s attitude. Sunshine is an extra bonus and a physiological need. So, if at all possible, go outside, get some fresh air, and catch some rays.