I travelled down to Melbourne on the train this week ahead of Mother's Day. For those unaware, I currently reside just opposite the NSW border in the town of Swan Hill. Given the four to five hour travel for the trip, I had used my phone to watch an AFL game. During the moment in which I was so occupied I also attempted to grab my bag from above my head - carefully avoiding the passenger in front of me. Yet I must not have been cautious enough.
As we came into the station I hear a loud, sullen 'Watch where your hands go next time.' I didn't feel a thing so I wondered who on Earth the passenger was talking to. Then I next see this young guy (around my age or slightly older or younger) get up and directly address me with the same complaint. Having felt nothing, I was a little shocked as he walked to the door and called back to me, 'I'm not your phone - a simple apology would be good. That's all.' So of course I sat there stunned and finally said, 'I'm sorry if I touched your head. I didn't realise I had.'
It was a difficult moment to process, so I prayed it over and came to a little revelation. It could have been easy to justify myself and say something like, 'hey what's your problem you jerk?' Yet that would have been immature and irresponsible - I was in some fault unconsciously. Simply claiming ignorance and blaming him would have been wrong.
No, what I realised is this: our attitude is what can determine how others respond to us. Our attitudes matter. The demanding, self-righteous attitude I encountered left me feeling guilty, shallow and downright bitter. Yet in hindsight I'm glad I ended this moment in prayer and allowing God to teach me a lesson.
Psalm 51:16-17 says 'For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.'
God is after the right attitude from us. God wants us to have a broken and contrite heart in relation to Him. In a year of elections it is easy to become bitter when the candidate we vote for does not succeed. It is easy to become upset and curse when a poor driver cuts us off. It is easy in other words to slip into a poor attitude.
I shared my story as an example of the fact that I had a poor attitude in response to another demanding grumpy attitude. Yet I had to take time to be humbled by God's grace to react appropriately and learn an important lesson from it. Our attitude matters do matter in short and God gives us a chance every day to choose an attitude of surrender to Him. Will you be bitter and spiteful or full of loving surrender?