Change my Attitude Please!

Recently I met Mary Jean, an outgoing forty-five-year-old who has a graduate degree from the University of Difficulty. "I'm so short," she laughed as she reached up to shake my hand, "that they gave me a periscope with my driver's license." As we talked I noticed that Mary Jean was watching my lips move. I asked if I had mustard on them. "No," she smiled, "I'm deaf. My best friend is deaf too. We were out for a walk once and I said, 'It sure is windy today,' and my friend answered, `No, it's Thursday.' I said, `Me too, let's go get a drink."'

But six months ago Mary Jean wasn't laughing. Her husband of twenty-eight years had just walked out the door. "He's in Florida now," she said, "pursuing other interests." A month ago she was in a deep depression. One morning she began to pray that God would change her attitude. "I got dressed for the first time in weeks, went to a store, and bought some cards. I put a note in each mailbox on our street. It said, `I'm the lady in the blue house. Don't worry, I'm not crazy. I want you to know that I'm praying for you."' That same day a widow down the street came by to ask what gets her through. The next day a pregnant teen knocked on her door. "You're praying for me?" She said tearfully. "All I ever hear is judgment."

In some, pain produces resentment, anger, and negativity. They smell flowers ...and look around for a funeral. But in Mary Jean pain has produced an opportunity. New chances for compassion to spill over into action. She's less likely to run from the suffering of others now. More likely to stoop than stare. More likely to listen than offer grand advice. She knows roses have thorns. She's felt them. But a smile. So she picks them carefully. And passes them along.

Callaway, Phil. Laughing Matters. Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 2005, p. 68.

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