I recently heard about someone who, during her bad moods, considered wearing a bright red warning label that read, "Danger! This bad mood is a feeble, immature attempt to achieve control. For your own safety and well-being, stay back."
But she was smart enough to realize that while such a label COULD communicate the message "keep your distance," her closest friends would know it was really saying "pay attention to me." Seeing the humor of this actually helped to quickly improve her state of mind.
At the time, I had just conducted one of those silly private surveys that was impelled by my unhappiness with colleagues. Many of them were not returning my warm, cheerful greeting when I walked through the office building in the morning.
But it was an indignant survey, and my resentful thinking got the distressing outcome it deserved. No fewer than 40 percent of my colleagues weren't managing even a grunt.
What was wrong with them? I wondered. Or - heaven forbid! - what was wrong with me that they should treat me so shabbily?
What didn't at first occur to me was that I might be getting into a bad mood over bad moods, and I was drifting toward an "if-only-people-could-be-more-like-me" problem. I decided to pray - and about me more than about them!
In Colossians, the Apostle Paul provided a great launch pad for dealing with moods. He implored people to rid themselves of the old life and "put on" the new way of living that was demonstrated by Christ Jesus.
He calls on them to "clothe" themselves with "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." To "bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another." He said, "Over all these virtues put on love, which binds [you] all together in perfect unity" (3:8-14, New International Version).
In the light of this, I was quickly convinced that I had to start seeing myself and my associates created by God, and thus as consistently able to express those spiritual qualities listed by Paul.
We cannot pin our own moods on others, any more than they can pin theirs on us.
If someone appears to snub or ignore us, such unfriendliness cannot transfer itself to us. We are all individually connected to God, the true source of our joy. There is no crisscrossing or short-circuiting of this line of communication. It's in this way that we cannot be mentally shoved around, manipulated, or dented by anyone else's thoughts about us.
Any perception on our part that someone is unpredictable dissolves when we turn toward God and allow Him to anchor us in the truth of who He is - omnipotent and eternal Love. God is totally predictable, absolutely dependable, ever present to bring out the best in all of us. This truth never changes, and our understanding of it has the power to bring all errant thoughts to a screeching halt.
Sometimes we find that God is simply trying to reveal our need to be more open and to communicate better with others to root out some selfish behavior.
Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy observed, "The more I understand true humanhood, the more I see it to be sinless, - as ignorant of sin as is the perfect Maker" ("Unity of Good," pg. 49).
People everywhere need the encouragement to demonstrate their sinlessness; to live and progress in the way that God unfolds, without personal interference or criticism from others.
I learned through my research project that we should be quicker to love than we are to resent. It certainly isn't consistent to acknowledge God, good, as having all power, and then to believe in another subversive power apart from God; it's unfair to see others as selfish, unloving, and highhanded, rather than as God's likeness.
Now I am measuring the thoughtfulness shown by fellow workers every day. The results have been exciting - overwhelmingly positive in the first two weeks, including some of the people I had earlier labeled "moody."
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