A few years ago I came inside my house and smelled something bad. Right away I knew what it was. Dog poop! Sorry to use such language, but that is the most appropriate word I can use. I smelled dog poop.
However, we don’t have a dog. Evidently when the kids were over for the weekend one of the dogs left us a “gift”.
I searched everywhere for the source of the smell. I had to get rid of it. I went in the bedrooms and the closets and it smelled in there but no pile. I went to the corners of the living room, behind the couch and it smelled there but no evidence. I even thought maybe it was in the basement and the air conditioner was bringing the aroma upstairs. It smelled in the basement but I couldn’t find it. I knew if I didn’t find the source of the smell, it was only going to get worse.
Then I found the smell. Guess where it was? It was on the bottom of my shoe. When I walked from outside I must have stepped in it and carried it with me everywhere I went. Everything smelled like dog poop because I took it with me everywhere I went. Ughhhh! I had to clean myself.
So what’s the lesson? I’m sure you could think of some good lessons but this is what I thought of.
If ‘something stinks’ everywhere you go, maybe the ‘stink’ is you.
While you might think this applies to smells, I think it also applies to attitudes. Have you ever met someone who seems to complain about everything in their life? I mean, nothing is going right. Their job is a dead-end. Their vehicle is undependable. Their neighbors are rude. Their friends are unreliable. Their family is embarrassing. Even their pets are annoying. I’ve even tried to point to the positive. I remember mentioned to one person it was a beautiful, sunny day! and it was. But their response was, “The sun was in my eyes driving to church today.’
Maybe the problem is not so much all these areas of their life. Maybe they are the problem. Maybe they are always looking for bad things and bad things always find them. Maybe it’s their attitude that needs to be cleaned up.
This Sunday my sermon text is from Psalm 23:5. David says of the LORD’s blessings in his life, “my cup runneth over.” For David, his cup of life was not “half-empty” but neither was it “half-full” For David, his “cup of life was overflowing.” David had more blessings than he deserved and more blessings than he needed. Life was better than good.
This doesn’t mean that David didn’t have problems in his life. If you recall, his brothers looked down on him, Goliath wanted to kill him, and so did King Saul and his own son, Absalom. His sin with Bathsheba pulled him into deciding to have one of his trusted warriors, Uriah, killed. And God’s punishment against him for this sin led his family into disarray and disintegration. David had problems. But David chose to see the blessings and not the sorrows.
You may not be able to change the gripes and complaints from your negative neighbor, but you can adjust your own attitude. Rather than focus on the bad things that have happened in your life, why not try to concentrate on the good things that are happening in your life. Make a list and thank God for all His goodness. I’m sure if you took time to thank God for His goodness, He would give you more good things to thank Him for.
I read an interesting article this week about gratitude and thankfulness. What if everything you complained about this week was made worse or taken away? You complained about your job – you were laid off. You complained about your car – it was stolen. You complained about your sore throat – you developed cancer. You complained about the cold weather – your furnace went out in the middle of the night. Get the picture? I’m sure we would quickly quit complaining. Because often the things we complain about would actually be a blessing if conditions were worse. Some people would love to have the things we complain about.
How can we work on having a better attitude toward life? Here’s a few ideas.
- Write. Take time to actually write down 3 things you are thankful for. I try to do this every night before I go to bed. It actually helps me sleep better. Writing it down helps to get it in my heart, not just my head.
- Talk. Tell someone else something good that has happened to you. It’s not bragging when you give God the praise. So, share something good that has happened to you with a friend. Rather than complain, give praise.
- Visit. Spend time with someone who you believe has a great attitude. I have often found that people who have a good attitude have not had an easy life. They have had bad things happen to them, but chose to be positive. Learn some lessons from them.
- Pray. God can change any bad situation into a good situation. He may not, but He can. Even spending time in prayer complaining to God about your problems will often end in praise for God. You can’t spend time with God and not be positive. If you read many of the psalms, they start with complaints and end in praise. Maybe you can even pray back some of the psalms to the Lord. Start with Psalm 23.
- Think. In a bad situation, try to find something good in it. My grandmother used to have a saying when we had those hard Spring rains: “April showers bring May flowers.” That’s a positive outlook on a negative event. Paul tells us that “… all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). He later tells us what one of those good things is: “to be conformed to the image of His Son.” It could be that what you are going through is conforming you to be more like Jesus – and that’s a good thing!
I hope your day is filled with good things. Every day is filled with God’s blessings. Sometimes God hides those blessings. You may have to search out those blessings. Just like I was searching for the bad smell in the house, I hope you will look for the good things in your life today. They are there. In fact, they may be right under your feet! May God’s good things be on you!