I love 4 year olds...they understand so much! A few years ago, I told my then 4 year old grandson Evan that we choose our attitude. And he got it!
I didn’t always think that was true, but the older I get the more I believe our choosing has a lot to do with it. And if we are children of God, the living, indwelling Christ empowers us to have an appropriate attitude for the situation.
I experienced this simple truth with another 4 year old when I was teaching preschool many years ago.
It was getting toward the end of the school year...maybe April or early May. I was reflecting on the precious group of "free spirits" entrusted to my care that year. The Lord had done some amazing spiritual work in the lives of those five four-year-old's and in my own life as their teacher.
But I was somewhat distressed, feeling that I hadn't quite "reached" one little boy. I felt that way because he usually looked stressed. And he often had a negative expression on his face...what might be called a "NO" face. Somewhat resigned to the fact that "you can't win them all," I just kept on doing what we were doing.
One day, the children were washing their hands two by two. Little Johnny (not his real name) was not acting properly toward the child at the sink with him. So of course, I reprimanded him. He glared at me with his "NO " face, obviously not happy!
I said, "Johnny, don't give me that face! Give me a gentle face!" Immediately, Johnny changed his face...and peace came over him! I was amazed!
Then just about an hour later, we were lining up by the door to go home. At the end of each class day, I would stand at the door and face the children, waiting until they formed a line in front of me. Then we would proceed down the hall and out to the waiting moms. I looked at Johnny who, at that point, had the usual, somewhat negative, expression on his face. When he made eye contact with me, he must have remembered our little interchange at the sink. He immediately relaxed his expression and smiled.
Later I asked the Lord about it. "Lord, what just happened?" He led me to an incredible Scripture I had never noticed before:
A man's wisdom illumines his face and causes his stern face to change. Ecclesiastes 8:1b NASB
Days later, Johnny's mom came up to me and said, "Jan, you changed Johnny's life!" She had seen a new peace in her child. And I praised God, knowing it wasn't me who made the change, but the Holy Spirit working in one little boy's life by enabling him to "change his face."
Not long ago, this very thread ran through discussion with a group of friends. One woman said she wanted to be more gentle, so the Lord led her to start closing doors and cabinets quietly. Another person wanted to not respond to mistakes in anger and frustration, so he began to speak out a gentle answer and found that it turned away his own wrath. (Proverbs 15:1)
After my husband's heart attack, John and I went to his cardiac rehab class called, "The Emotional Side of Heart Disease."
This was an excellent class about managing stress...especially the stresses associated with having just suffered a heart attack. We both looked at each other when Patty, the rehab nurse, read an excerpt from an article called, "Laughter Really is the Best Medicine."
Move joyfully. If you wake up in a bad mood, act like you're in a good mood, and your body can actually 'fake out' your own brain. It's called 'fake it till you make it.' When the copier breaks down in the office, instead of hitting it, try twirling while you tell people the copier isn't working. Trust me, when you do this, it's impossible to feel stressed. By substituting playful gestures for angry ones, your brain often short-circuits your own stress.
I'm not so sure I can see my engineer husband twirling at the copier, but this principle seems to be at the heart of the way the body and mind work together.
But the even better news for us believers is that we have the mind of Christ, and so we can choose to submit our body to Him and His indwelling life. We can "chose our face" and expect that His empowering, indwelling, resurrection Life will live through us...as us, all to the glory of His Name!
So dear brothers and sisters, "chose your face"...and change the way you live your human life in this world...to the glory of God...one day at a time!
...we have the mind of Christ. 1Cor 2:16b
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Phil 2:5-8