The other day I was just flat out grumpy. You know those kinds of days. Everything gets under your skin. Annoyances pile upon annoyances. Your mind races down every “worst case scenario” road. Things that normally you can brush off become like sand in the bottom of your shoe. When our son was growing up we called it “having a case of the grumpies”. It happens to the best of us – and one day last week I had a full blown case.
The problem with having a case of the grumpies is that you feel you MUST infect other people. Negativity is not something that can be contained. It seeks other carriers and does its best to spread far and wide. You know this is true. Think about the last time you attended a meeting being run by a negative person. How did you feel when you left the meeting? It spreads!
I’m not sure how I got infected, but I was determined to share the joy. My wife got full exposure, (she always does it seems). But store clerks, other drivers, and a poor woman trying to serve me a salad also got to experience my wonderful mood.
Of course having a case of the grumpies is not the same as being depressed or grieving over a loss. These things are much deeper and much more complex that just being in a bad mood. But over time, negativity in our lives can start to have chronic effects – whether that negativity comes from us or from letting ourselves be infected by others.
If we let it go on, having a grumpy day can lead to becoming a grumpy person. When this happens, it’s like we put on negativity glasses and start to view the world through those lenses. We always see the down side of things. It becomes easy for us to point out ways we could fail. Things that should be of no significance suddenly become potential catastrophes. And worst of all, we become known as THAT person: the person who can never say a positive thing.
I was recently reading Psalm 19 when the very first lines of that ancient song struck me. “The heavens are telling the glory of God”. What does that have to do with fighting the grumpies? Everything. You see, I believe the main reason we become negative in our lives is because we stop seeing the glory of God. When this happens we see the bad instead the good – we notice what is wrong instead of noticing what is right – we believe there is an absence of God instead of an overwhelming presence of God.
And yet, the heavens are constantly telling of the glory of God! God’s presence is being proclaimed to us each and every day in a million different ways! But we miss it. We become consumed with our lives and with our grumpiness and totally miss the fact that God is here.
But when we DO listen to what the heavens are telling us – when we see the presence of God around us – our negativity lessens, our mood lifts, and our souls develop what brother Lawrence called “constant inner joy”.
How are you listening to what the heavens are telling you? Where is it that you see God? It does not have to be in grand ways. It could be in something as simple as a song coming on the radio – a smile you give back to someone who smiled at you – a glimpse of sun on an otherwise cloudy day.
When we stop to notice the glory of God we will discover two things. First, we will be much less likely to be infected by someone else’s negativity. And second, our own case of the grumpies will soon pass. Give it a try. The heavens are telling the glory of God.