A, B, C, A, B, C, A, B, _…..you know what comes next. We get used to patterns. Patterns are predictable and seem safe. Our lives can become a series of repeated patterns and ruts. While some patterns are beneficial, others are hazardous to our spiritual growth.
Recently it was brought to my attention, from my 3 littles, that I am a grumbler in the car. Apparently I have “morning tantrums”, that’s what my daughter calls them. It seems I have one sided disagreements with other cars while dropping the kids off at school.😳 I grumble, mumble and complain most of the way to school, easily finding offenses in other drivers. They drive to slow, cut in front, drop kids off in the middle of the street, honk regularly, go to fast….there are a plethora of wrongs, and I am a classic rule follower. Don’t they know the rules?!?😉
Ashlyn started laughing last week as I carried on with my pattern of complaining. She finds it amusing since the cars can’t respond. It occurred to me that every day I’m starting her day with negative chatter, rather than demonstrating patience and grace. It’s such self centered behavior! (Not a quality of Jesus.😬). I don’t want my morning tantrums to become a template for how she should behave. So, I made an effort the next day to stop my bad habit….which lasted about 30 seconds, until a car pulled out in front of me. Ugh, foiled again!! Ashlyn laughed out loud as she “knew I couldn’t do it.”
The thing about patterns is they don’t require any thought. They simply flow out of us like a river flowing downstream. It takes intentionality to swim upstream and make a change. So, I put on my swim fins, took the matter to prayer, and asked God to help me choose positive words instead of negative. Help came in the form of a Mr. Rogers song.
The next day I told Ashlyn I was changing my ways with God’s help. She giggled, not convinced. The entire way to school, I smiled, waved, and patiently waited my turn, as I sang the happy tune,”It’s a Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood…”. It’s funny how songs can pop into my brain even though it’s probably been 30, or more, years since I’ve heard that kid tune. But I think that’s how God works. When we pray and seek God even in minor areas of our lives, He pokes through like the sun peeking through cloudy skies.
By God’s grace I made it to the school, smile still in tact, with no ranting. Victory! 👏👏🙌 My victory wasn’t just for me, it was for Ashlyn too, as she watches how I’m living out this thing called faith.
I’d like to tell you I’ve been victorious every day since then, but like Pinocchio, my nose would grow with that claim. That’s ok. His mercies are new each morning, His grace is sufficient, and I’m going to “just keep swimming” up stream with the Lord’s help.
Are you a grumbler? Are there areas of your life that you’ve gotten in a rut and you can’t break the negative pattern? Maybe you tend to see the negative in others, rather than the positive, or you find it easy to let gossip flow from your lips, which not only hurts you spiritually, but hurts others. Pray, seek Him and He will give you a new song to sing. Replace your repetitive, negative chatter, with life giving words. It will take your effort and His grace, but don’t give up. You can do ALL things through Him!
Lam. 3:22-23~The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Psalm 19:14~May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Phil.4:8~Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
2Cor.12:9~But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”