The "Attitude Adjustment"

I like a clean house. I mean a really clean house. I like my house to look like it is perpetually poised for a Better Homes and Gardens photo shoot. (I guess I should have thought of that before I decided to have so many children!)

Once, when I was a little girl about the same tempestuous age as my own darling daughter, I was sent to my room for an attitude adjustment. I was angry at my Mom.

I decided to punish her.

At that time we lived in a house large enough for me to have my own bedroom (I also had fewer siblings at that time) so my mother had created a beautiful space just for me. She wall papered some of the walls with a lovely floral design and painted the rest a delicate pink. There was a plush pink rug on the hardwood floor and a dainty Pricilla-style curtain hung on the window. My parents had found an ornate cast iron bed in the attic of that house when we moved in and my dad had sanded it and painted it white just for me. It was a beautiful room and I always kept it clean. (I guess that Marthas can be Marthas even when we are young.)

On that fateful day, the punishment that I chose to inflict on my mother was to trash my room. I don’t know why! – cleaning our bedrooms was never a responsibility that my mother “owned” for us children. It was always ours. Nevertheless, I thought that if I really made a mess, it would show her!

Sometimes, in trying to inflict pain on others, we punish ourselves.

I sat in that messy room and started to feel uncomfortable. It was not my space. It did not feel like my haven. It felt like I did – out of sorts.

The longer I sat in that mess, the more uncomfortable I felt. I started to pick things up and put them away. As I reorganized my possessions, I felt my heart calming down, too. And by the time my bedroom was set aright; my attitude had been properly adjusted. I guess that’s just what I needed in order to sort through my frustrated feelings that day.

There were many occations in my childhood when I needed an "attitude adjustment." Sometimes my dad would suggest one, or even offer to "give" me one!

There are times when I need them, still.  I want to say, "You kids sit here on the couch and don't move. Mommy needs a time-out in her room!"

 Can I do that?

When my oldest child was little, he would get all bent out of shape over something and start to fume and fuss. I would say, "Go to your room and come back when you are happy."

One day this happened when my mom was here. I saw her eyebrow go up (she is one who believes in taking a more direct approach to correction and redirection - this must have seemed somewhat passive to her) so I said, "Watch this." Soon my tiny boy came back into the kitchen with a smile on his face and exclaimed, "I'm happy now!" in his shrill little voice. Oh, that it would always be this simple! He is fourteen now. Some days I think that if I tried sending him to his room until he is happy, I would never see him again!

For some reason, I have gotten away from this method over the years. Some of my children are private and withdrawn so I didn't want to miss moments with them because they are all too happy to sit in their room alone.

Yet, there is some real value to having to make the choice to improve one's attitude.

To be in charge of that action rather than having it required of you.

Scripture reminds us of this in 1 Corinthians 10:5 where it says:

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

It is a matter of  choice.

Choosing to make my thoughts obedient to Christ.

Choosing to keep my thoughts obedient to Christ.

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." Philipians 4:8

Maybe it is time to dust off the "self - adjusting" method with my kids and give the younger ones the opportunity to learn to take charge of thier own attitudes...

- Just as I am reminding myself to do the same.


Candace Miller said...

Very accurate parallel,Tish, between the daily maintenance the "BHG" house requires and the daily "maintenance" our attitudes require. Thank you. It reminds me of a verse I implement frequently "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me"(Psalm 51:10) If it were possible, I should have worn out his verse.

lucyseay said...

Ooooh, this is GOOD, Latisha!! Thank you!!

kate said...

Oh I so have the same need....And have slowly learned to adjust to my other 3 people in the home. Change is hard...but good!

Anonymous said...

Excellent insight. Wouldn't it be nice if we would FINALLY get old enough not to need an attitude adjustment? Don't think it's going to happen!! But, with the help of the Lord, I'm needing way less of them than I used to. Praise the Lord!
Love you girl, Aunt LaVila

Confessions of a Martha said...

AMEN to all of your comments!

April's Homemaking said...

Wonderful post! My children are also in their teen years, great reminder about keeping attitudes in check.

HopeUnbroken said...

interesting. time-outs came up as a subject in my writing today, as well.
great thoughts!

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