I like to think of myself as being fairly laid back. Most of the time I am able to reflect calmly and intelligently on events and then respond appropriately (possibly). But I know that when I am tired I get grumpy more easily and little things that would not bother me normally now irritate me intensely.
Normally if my phone is not working properly I calmly resolve the problem (by turning it off and on again). But if I am tired and ratty all of a sudden the problem becomes much more difficult to resolve. I repeat the same process on the phone, somehow expecting that doing the same thing will bring a different result (d’oh!!).
One of the problems with this is that I know that I am acting irrationally and that I have moved up the grumpy index but I can’t stop myself. It’s almost as if I have to get to the full toddler strop before I can calm down and revert to adult again. My wife knows me well enough that she can tell me that I am being silly and to calm down, and sometimes that works, but the more tired I am the harder it is to stop.
In order to prevent the world being full of stroppy adult toddlers and prevent global catastrophes from happening on the whim of someone who’s not over-tired God has built in to us a rhythm of life that includes sleep and recreation. We tamper with or ignore these at our peril. It’s not a sign of superhuman-ness to exist on a couple of hours sleep a night. It’s not a commendable trait to work 24/7 and never take any time to rest, relax and be refreshed. The inevitable outcome is that you will end up behaving like a toddler – selfish, prone to irrational outbursts, ignoring the effect you have on others and demanding attention.
So how do we reverse the climb up the grumpy index? Build in regular relaxation, find things that make you laugh, find people who energise you and whose company you enjoy, maybe even take yourself off to the naughty step to calm down a bit… and as you realise that the inner toddler has taken control ask your heavenly Father to calm you down and renew his Spirit’s presence in you.
Be blessed, be a blessing
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In case you didn’t realise I was away at a conference for the first three days of this week. While I was there I was checking my emails when I saw an urgent message from someone who needed a relatively instant response from me that I was unable to deal with until I got home. It was nothing to do with church stuff but needed attention. Harumph!
I felt a bit helpless and also (if I am honest) a bit put upon. There is nothing I can do about it until tomorrow (Thursday). I can’t change that fact. But the email did not seem to take into account the possibility that I might not be able to do anything until tomorrow and set an impossible deadline for me to comply with. It felt a bit unfair. Because someone else had not got their administrative act together soon enough now I felt under pressure and was being expected to sort things out in an unrealistic time frame. Harumph!
Then I wondered how often I do that to other people. Do I place them under pressure to fit in with me and my plans? Do I ask other people to adjust to me (perhaps even because of my own inefficiency) to dig me out of a hole? Do I assume that everyone else is as available as me? Do I expect other people to put aside what is important for them in order to do what is important for me? Harumph?
At the conference there was a moment where we reflected on a description of Jesus ’emptying himself’ – divesting himself of his divine rights to take on humanity (while not compromising his God-ness – kaboom! [the sound of theological brains exploding as they grapple with it). There is so much in this but one aspect is that of humility: he did the unthinkable and reversed the expectations of the day that were about social climbing and looking down on others. One part of the Christian message is that in Jesus God re-turned humility from being regarded as something despicable into a virtue. hmmm.
With that in mind I decided that I should stop grumpily harumphing and get on with being gracious. And I should try to ensure that I was not expecting everyone else to dance to my rhythm and join in with me on my terms.
Be blessed, be a blessing