"Be still and know that I am God." God ~ Psalm 46:10

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How to Renew a Right Spirit

As a Christian, I am thankful for the fragment of verse in Psalm 51:10 ~ “Renew a right spirit within me.”

As life would have it, we can sometimes get a little grumpy. It could be the old cliché that we woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, the sky is too gray for us today, or the dog peed on the carpet (again!). Sometimes we are grumpy because we feel we’ve failed someone, or even ourselves.

That last one is a double whammy. For example (and I know of this from experience, but I’ll try to keep this in the all encompassing “you” perspective):

this morning your daughter tells you that while taking out her contact lenses she’s lost one of them. It was her last set of contacts, because you forgot to order more on time, and tomorrow you are going on a little vacation for spring break. Today, she refuses to wear her glasses to school. You argue about it, telling her to get those glasses on her head!

She goes to school with one contact inL, and you wonder how she’s going to see the teacher’s writing on the chalkboard. You are also wondering if the contact is stuck up under her eyelid somewhere even though she says it is not. You are secretly hoping that it is stuck up there and that it will miraculously slide down onto her eyelid by noon.

Are you really upset about the lost contact lens? I think not. I’m grumpy (I mean, you) because you grumped at her for losing a contact when you were really angry at yourself because you’ve been thinking for the past two weeks that you should get those contacts ordered, even wrote it in your planner, and you didn’t do it. You’re grumpy because the family is going on a little road trip tomorrow, and you didn’t order those contacts. You’re grumpy because you know that she doesn’t like to wear her glasses because it’s a self-esteem issue, and you didn’t...you get the picture.

But, whoa, take a deep breath, and think about it from God’s perspective. You let yourself get grumpy because you needed a refreshed spirit and you didn’t ask for it. No matter how upset we are with ourselves, no matter what our failings, we can be renewed. On the spot. Our minds can be swept clean and we can start anew. Every time we feel that we are failing, we can ask God to forgive our humanness and refresh our spirit. If we do fall short, as in this situation, we learn to remember to ask God to refresh our spirit in situ, to change our mindset right now, before things deteriorate. In the moment of difficulty, ask God for his help. Let that be your immediate response to a difficult situation. This little verse can help in so many ways: it will preserve, perhaps even save relationships.

We can apologize to our daughter, who is in all probability closer to the delightful spirit we were all born with, and move on. It could be that the older we get the more renewing of the spirit we might require. Grumpiness may raise it’s ugly head again, but we can overcome it, do better next time, by seeking God’s help. And forgive yourself. We can’t be all things to all people—only God can do that.
In the grand scheme of things, a replaceable contact lens just doesn’t matter. But you do. You’re daughter (son, husband, friend, etc.) does. And your relationship with them does. Next time ask God to refresh your spirit, and allow him to do it.

Also, a prayer for patience goes a long way in raising children. I have to order those contacts ~ right now.

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