Like an alarm, my brother’s call rang throughout the house, causing us to jump from our comfortable chairs and leap toward all the doors and windows to keep out the unmistakable smell.
Until then, the cool, crisp air blowing through the house was a welcome friend. When our oasis was interrupted by the unmistakable smell of skunk, it was a whole other story! (Yes, folks, this is life in the country!)
Later that night as I was recalling the incident and laughing about our urgent response, I started thinking about how skunks aren't the only creatures that elicit this reaction.
If we were all honest, we'd admit that we know people who trigger that same desire to flee before they get too close. Even though they may not physically carry the unmistakable aroma of skunk, their stinky attitudes are just as unwelcome.
I'm sure you can identify.
There's the "Debbie Downer" who always sees the negative side in each and every situation.
The woman who is so filled with jealousy that anyone else’s good news is met with a pity party.
We can't forget the gossip, the troublemaker, or the person who tells you every single problem they are experiencing every single time you speak to them. (Seriously, some people take "How are you?" far too literally. It's a greeting not an invitation for TMI).
These are the people whose glances we avert, whose phone calls make us cringe, and who never cease to spread their stinky bad attitudes wherever they go.
The only thing worse than running into one of them, is actually being someone who carries a bad attitude every day of their lives. How awful must it be to live that way? Is it even possible to overcome?
The good news is that yes, through the power of Jesus you can overcome anything---even a stinking rotten attitude.
Should you just put on a happy face and tell jokes all the time? Should you become fake and phony and act like you're not struggling?
Absolutely not. You can't fake happiness or peace. Being phony isn't the answer---it only covers the problem.
The real solution comes not in covering your issues, but in facing them head on and overcoming them.
How do you do that?
Often the first step is identifying the root of the problem. What is making you negative, discontent, jealous, or bitter?
What keeps you from being happy for others or seeing the good in life?
Are there issues from your past keeping you bound?
Are you entertaining sin in your life that needs to be confessed or laid aside?
Are you spending enough time in prayer, in the Bible, or listening to the Holy Spirit?
If you want to get rid of a bad attitude, you need to start by identifying the root cause.
Once you know the cause, you can begin taking the steps toward making an attitude adjustment.
Often, this begins by making the conscious decision to choose to think and act differently. Yes, it is possible. Otherwise Paul wouldn’t have commanded us to:
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)
The Message puts it this way:
“Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”
Galatians 5:19-21 says:
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Instead, Paul encourages us to put on the fruit of the Spirit:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
The truth is that it is possible to genuinely change your attitude without being a phony.
It starts by facing the pain in your heart, forgiving those who hurt you, and allowing the Holy Spirit to heal your heart. Then the process continues as you consciously make behavior modifications choosing to put on the fruit of the Spirit rather than continuously entertaining sinful, fleshly, stinky attitudes.
How do I know?
Because it’s a choice I’ve had to make.
There have been times when I’ve had to choose to avoid jealousy, decide not to have the pity party, make myself be happy for others even when it was hard.
The truth is that only YOU can change your attitude.
The good news is that through the power of the Holy Spirit YOU CAN DO IT!
You can lay aside the unmistakable aroma of a bad attitude, and become a Spirit-empowered person who is as welcome and refreshing as a cool breeze on a hot summer day.
It begins when you recognize there’s a problem, decide to pursue healing, and allow the Holy Spirit to change you into the woman He originally created you to be.