My new tagline is “organize your attitude,” because I think our own mindset as moms is crucial in our homes. This theme fits well here, too, because an organized attitude is at the root of having a convivial home.
Charlotte Mason said that fully 1/3 of our children’s curriculum is atmosphere, and though candles and art on the wall are nice touches, I believe that it is our own attitudes as we go about our business that creates the atmosphere our kids grow up in. Mom sets the tone, whether we like it or not.
We feel the weight of responsibility in educating our children. We feel the pressure of giving each one what they require for both mind and body. We feel the tension of keeping house while allowing the house to be used.
Are we going to add, on top of that, the burden of a requirement to bear it all cheerfully?
That is how I felt when I was first convicted of my stinky attitude and listlessness. I didn’t want to face up to what I knew was true: I was responsible for my attitude. I told my children to change theirs. I told them they weren’t obeying all the way if they weren’t obeying with a good attitude.
Oh botheration. That applied to me, too.
So, I wanted to share the three keys I found to overcoming my listlessness and my grumpiness. It’s not that I am not never grouchy, of course, but it is no longer (or, much less often) characteristic of my attitude and when I start falling off that cliff, I know the handholds to reach for to climb back up to the right path.
These are those handholds.
Key #1: The Fruit of the Spirit
We know them, right?
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
They summarize exactly what our attitudes should be.
It is a daunting list. We can’t nail down a single one of them, much less all seven.
But growing in them is sanctification, which is God’s will for us.
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” I Thessalonians 4:3
This is really what it’s all about: opportunities to exercise, to practice, these virtues. We mortify our fleshly responses and choose to obey instead. That is organizing our attitude.
You don’t have to wallow in whatever comes naturally in order to be real and authentic. Being an authentic follower of Jesus results in us choosing His mind rather than our own, His glory rather than our own pride.
And, it is only because of Jesus that we can choose the right mindset in the first place.
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” Romans 6:22
Jesus pours out His Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit brings the fruit with Him. These are not responses we have to gin up on our own, because we can’t – that is faking and will wear us down. These are responses given to us by grace that we can walk in and grow up into.
God gives His grace and Holy Spirit only to those who pray continually and groan inwardly, asking God for these gifts and thanking Him for them. – Heidelberg catechism
Asking for the fruit of the Spirit is a prayer God will answer. And that is how we get the grace in the middle of the muddle to do the right thing.
Key #2: Providence
One key concept that helped me align my attitude with truth was realizing that God’s Providence was a truth I could rest in. That is, not rest as in sit back, do nothing, and hope vaguely for the best. But rather one reason my attitude was wound so tight and tense was that I thought that parenting and educating my children meant that it was all on me. How could it both be true that I could do well or I could mess it up and be true that God is in control and will work His purposes with or without me?
Again, the words of the Heidelberg catechism resonated with me:
How does the knowledge of God’s Providence comfort you?
That I am not my own, but belong, body and soul, in life and in death,
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins
with His precious blood and set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in Heaven. In fact, all things must work together
for my salvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit
assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for Him.
My children, my home, my responsibilities, are given to me as a way to exercise gratitude and faithful stewardship, and God is working through them to grow me and through me to grow them. If I start making it about results other than responding in faith to what is in front of me, I’ve gotten off track. The work is mine, the results are God’s. I have to say, “I will do what I know I should do and I trust God to do whatever He wants with that.” How things pan out and how situations unfold is God’s gig. I don’t earn outcome 1 or outcome 2 based on my work. I do reap what I sow, but all of it is leading to further repentance and dependence. Because that’s God’s will for our lives.
How does the knowledge of God’s Providence comfort you?
We can be patient when things go against us,
grateful when things go well
and for the future we can have a bright hope
that nothing can separate us from God’s love.
All creatures are so completely in His hand
that without His will they can neither
move or be moved.
Key #3: Gratitude
The Heidelberg has gratitude as a key focus throughout. Come to think of it, so does Scripture.
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15
God’s people giving thanks occurs consistently throughout both Old and New Testaments. It is a consistent theme.
Gratitude lifts us up out of ourselves. It gives us perspective, it forces us to not take ourselves seriously or think we are the focal point ourselves. It moves the focus to God as our source of all things. We can give thanks and acknowledge that He knows what He’s doing, even if we don’t – it’s an act of trust and faith. It builds trust and faith.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6
Thanksgiving is to be our motivator, our underlying posture and attitude, and our response.
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:25
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