The 30 Day Attitude Challenge

Words are powerful. They can build up a life through language doused in love, or they can cut a life down like a scythe slicing through brittle grass.

When I recently asked my oldest daughter what she loved most about her two best friends at school, she replied, “I’ve never heard either of them said a bad word about anyone. Ever. They are always kind. Not just to people’s faces, but all the time. It’s hard not to love being around girls like that.”

gossip

Her reflection caused me to evaluate my own life. Jesus told us what comes from our mouth is an overflow from our heart. (Luke 6:45) If I say ugly words about someone, it’s because I have an ugly heart. And this doesn’t just have to be ‘mean’ words. It can be any form of backbiting: the times we gossip about someone (whether the information is true or not), every time we aren’t honest with a person to her face but tell everyone else how much her behavior annoys us, talking to our closest friends about the ‘problem person’ in our life, or however we may try to justify it. We can say we’re ‘venting’, but backbiting is the result either way. Worse yet are the moments we actually share a juicy tidbit about someone and thinly wrap it in the disguise of a prayer request.

Our words should bring life, and only life.

“Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].” ~Ephesians 4:29

I’ve been keeping a mental note of how often I complain about people who irritate me, whether it be the bad driver in traffic or people I tend to think of as daily “thorns in the flesh”. I didn’t like what I saw, so I spent a day purposefully focusing on using my words only to encourage and uplift. I refused to be drawn into any negative talk about others, gossip or the like. The change in my attitude was amazing.

proverbs 18 21As I’ve continued to discard complaining in my life, I see God softening the hard edges of hearts around me when I respond with gentleness, instead of feeding the monster of negativity. (Instead of being the person folks would come to so they could ‘vent’, I became the person who flipped the conversation and said, “So how can I pray for you in this situation?” Remember, gossips can’t do much damage unless they have a listening ear.)

We’re going into November, the month of gratitude. Social media is usually flooded with 30 day gratitude challenges and posts but I’d like to offer up a different kind of challenge. A 30 day Attitude challenge. No complaining or speaking poorly of others, no matter how badly your nerves are frayed. No yelling at drivers in rush hour traffic. No griping about people during Black Friday shopping. No gossip, venting or negativity. Only love.

You might be as surprised as I was by the amount of negativity creeping into your day. Speak life. Speak love. Are you willing to take the 30 day Attitude Challenge?

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Stuck in Second

by Tara Johnson

My car is stuck in second gear. True story.

 second gear

Actually, it’s my husband’s car but I had the distinct displeasure of driving ‘the turtle’, as I call it, yesterday while taking my middle child to Speech so my hubby could use our good vehicle for a short road trip. I’d totally forgotten his car had seen better days until I slipped behind the wheel. Not just better days. Faster days. Cooler days.

Did I mention the air conditioning doesn’t work either? Oh, and some of the windows won’t roll down. Limited ventilation. No air. In Arkansas. With summer quickly approaching. I think you’ve got the picture. I was creeping our little family down the road in a slow-moving crockpot on wheels.
turtle

I tried not to complain. Really, I did. After all, my husband never complains about having to drive The Turtle. Not much, anyways. But as my tee shirt began to stick like glue to my perspiring back, I wiped another trickle away from my damp brow and pushed back a sigh of irritation. The kids were sweaty, it was dreadfully hot and the line of irritated cars behind me was growing steadily longer by the minute.

That is, until I turned the corner and spied three police cars, their radar guns pointed and ready.

You want to know the good thing about driving a car stuck in second gear? No tickets. I smiled, noting the irony of my suddenly brighter situation, and waved as I slowly moved by, rotating my hand like a queen stuck atop a float.

It suddenly struck me that my attitude had seen better days as well. The entire grump-saturated morning could easily have been reversed by flipping my perspective. Sure, the car would still be slow as molasses, the air would still be sweltering and my hair would stay a chaotic mess from the wind. But I realized I wouldn’t have been complaining at all about my wind-whipped hair if I was driving a convertible. Or better yet, one of these bad boys which we spied later in the day.

sweet car

But I digress…

It’s really about attitude, isn’t it? Being thankful no matter the circumstances because we rely on faith that God is working all things together for our good, no matter the daily frustrations and seeming ‘set backs’. If I had been in my normal ride, I could have easily gotten a ticket…or worse yet, been in an accident.

ticket

When we’re stuck in second gear, it might seem like opportunities are slipping through our fingers, that life is moving faster than we are, but it might be God’s way of filtering out the noise and distractions to get us to the place He intended for us to be all along. And those disappointments? Those moments might be God’s way of keeping us safe.

If you’re stuck in second, don’t grouse. There’s a reason, at least for now. Sing a song of praise with those windows rolled down. Let everyone hear. Oh, and another good thing about being stuck in second gear? You’ll have plenty of time to sing as you creep towards your destination. You’ve got all day.

All the better.

What about you? Have you had your own ‘stuck in second gear’ moment?