Blessed are you when others mock you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you. Rejoice and be glad . . .”
For her work in the field of therapeutic humor, Patty Wooten has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. One of her favorite stories is about a grumpy patient who continually pressed his buzzer for help.
Despite a hectic day, his nurse clung to her good cheer and asked, “What’s wrong?”
The patient complained about his dinner. “This is a bad potato.”
The nurse, determined to keep things upbeat, picked up the potato with one hand and spanked it with the other. She scolded the potato, “Bad potato! Bad! Bad! Bad!” Satisfied that the potato had learned its lesson, the nurse set it back down on the plate.
The patient was so taken off guard that he burst into laughter. A crabby, irritable patient had been instantly transformed.
What changed his whiny attitude? His circumstances hadn’t changed: he was still lying in a hospital bed with an unappealing dinner before him. But the thought of the naughty potato lying on his plate completely altered how he viewed his situation.
When we’re in a sour mood we feel we’ve earned the right to nurse a bad attitude. That’s because we believe our attitudes are dependent on our circumstances.
They’re not. When we’re crabby, it’s never because of the situation we’re in, but how we are interpreting our situation.
Jesus tells us that when we’re horribly mistreated for following him, instead of moaning, it’s a good time to dance on the table. The proper attitude to persecution is joy.
No circumstance in life demands a crabby attitude.
One hot summer day, Robert Fulghum was sitting at an oceanfront café on the Greek island of Crete. The temperature was over a hundred degrees and the tempers of both tourists and waiters were rising.
At the table next to Fulghum’s, an attractive young couple, fashionable dressed, were kissing and laughing. Suddenly, they picked up their small table, and stepped off the quay into the shallow water of the harbor. The man waded back for their chairs and gallantly seated his lady before sitting down. The onlookers roared with laughter and applauded.
The surly waiter appeared, raised his eyebrows, and picking up a tablecloth, napkins, and silverware, waded into the water to set their table. Minutes later, the waiter returned with a bucket of iced champagne and two glasses. The couple toasted each other, the waiter, and the crowd – which prompted cheers as the other customers threw flowers to them from their table decorations.
The circumstances didn’t change. It was still hot. But everyone’s disposition was transformed because one young couple taught the rest to see in a new way.
(copyright 2011 by Marty Kaarre)