Keeping Gratitude in Your Attitude

I’ve had a lot of doctors’ appointments lately, unusual because I’ve had a miracle life regarding health. I’m even a stranger to antibiotics. So perhaps this explains my sudden interest in Luke, a Gospel writer, and physician. I researched his background and am in the middle of reading the Gospel According to Luke. I’d like to share a discovery from his carefully written narrative.

Luke, Chapter 1, verses 5 through 24, relates the story of Zechariah. He was “of the sons of Aaron,” a Jewish priest, advanced in years and steeped in Jewish law and tradition. Upon receiving a message from the Angel Gabriel regarding the birth of a son, Zechariah replied, “How will I know that this is so?” So far, so bad. Gabriel rebukes Zechariah for his unbelief and Zechariah forfeits his ability to speak until the birth of the son he doubted. We skip to verses 26 through 38, where the Angel Gabriel visits Mary, a young devout Israelite, and announces that she will bear a son. Mary inquires, “How can this be since I am a virgin?” So far so good. Gabriel encourages her and explains the circumstances of a holy conception.

What made the difference? Two people basically ask the same question, one is reprimanded and the other comforted. Very simple. Attitude. One asks in disbelief with a touch of arrogance and skepticism, and the other in an innocent moment of confusion, without doubt, looking for clarification, not proof.

So much of what we encounter each day is molded by attitude, both our own and those with whom we interact. It can make or break us, strengthen or diminish us. Just this past week, I had a series of medical tests. The facility was modern, clean, well-organized and even provided coffee and cookies in the waiting areas. The appointment was in six steps. Step one, a conversation and some papers to fill out with a kind older woman. Step two, an examination by two young nurse-practitioners, both energetic and positive. Three, a brief wait where I ate shortbread cookies and read a magazine. Next, a rather painful diagnostic test during which I could do nothing right. I didn’t stand properly, I was accused of withholding information from my physician (not true), I didn’t tie my robe correctly, my stomach was in the way. Ouch, wait a minute. God placed my stomach there, and I’m actually thinner than a year ago. I became a human apology machine, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m really sorry, I’m really so sorry.” I left the room discouraged, worried, and chastising myself for incompetence. Step five was an additional test, administered by a technician who exemplified professionalism. I felt secure, welcomed, and unafraid. And finally, a return of the two young nurse-practitioners who, with great joy, declared all tests normal and sent me on my way.

My turn to work on attitude: fret over the one in six who seemed to dislike me, or concentrate on the five blessings, especially confirmation that all is well. My choice. I can spread joy or perpetuate the discontent I innocently encountered. I choose an attitude with gratitude.


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