By Jennifer Davis Rash
Executive editor, The Alabama Baptist
A cat sits trapped under a birdcage with the proper resident of that cage sitting on top of it sneering down at him. This is the entire front cover of the greeting card. Open it up and it reads: “Don’t ask…”
I love this card. I bought it solely because it made me laugh. I’m guessing I connected with this card because I’ve been the cat in that illustration so many times.
You know those times when you have a day like the one described in Judith Viorst’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” — a day where it seems every single thing goes totally and magnificently wrong. The kind of day when you know the only option of gaining any type of redemption is to climb back into bed and start over.
When these days happen to me I become self-absorbed and focused so much on my own woes that I miss all that is going on around me. I plummet pretty quickly into a pity party with a guest list of one — me.
From there, I can’t even imagine how I must affect the moods of those with whom I come into contact. If I’m not careful, I might not even really care that I’m dumping a dark cloud over their day.
Isn’t it interesting how much our attitudes and moods can affect others?
I can certainly appreciate being the “safe” person for someone comfortable enough to share his or her raw emotions in the heat of a difficult situation, even if the person is taking out his or her frustrations on me. I remind myself to not take it personally and try to be an encouraging tower of strength for my friend.
But when people with whom I randomly come into contact are grouchy with me or with those around me, it pushes a different button inside me. I’m not sure how to describe it, but it makes me want to confront them, to find out why they think they have a right to treat others that way.
In all reality, the person may be facing some serious issue and doesn’t even realize how ill-mannered he or she is being. A kind word, a smile or even merely walking away could change the entire dynamic for that person. It might even break the cycle of his or her bad attitude. Otherwise one person’s grouchiness could cause another person to respond harshly, which deepens the grouch level of the original grouch, who then takes out the even grouchier feelings on the next person, who now becomes grouchier himself and … well, you get the picture.
Of course, if the grouch happens to be me, I should remind myself that whatever has me experiencing this “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” is not necessarily the fault of every single person around me. I should try to address the true issue rather than taking out my frustrations on them.
If you find yourself in a similar situation and it’s because you’re experiencing a serious issue, then think about sharing your struggles with those close to you and allowing them the blessing of supporting you through that situation. But if you’re just having a bad day and you’re mad about it, then consider spending some time checking your heart and motives. It might surprise you how ugly and discouraging you are being to the world around you.
I know I’ve been there too many times myself. The reflection is not one I ever want to see again. It’s definitely not a reflection of Jesus.