Thanks for the comment, Laine. I know what you mean about some of those bad habits lingering on...anger, in particular. I think we all know that that's a hard one to overcome, no matter what initially started it, and I don't think there's a quick fix. One of the things that has helped me - and you might get tired of hearing this from me because I'm sure it will come up again and again - is service. I know that sounds simple, but serving others really can make a difference.
A few years ago, I still had a lot of anger over a couple different things. I didn't realize how much I was letting that out on random strangers until one day I was getting my then-3-year-old daughter into the car to go to the bank. "Where we going, Mommy?" she asked. "To the bank," I replied as I buckled her car seat. "Oh," she said, nodding her head knowingly and looking up at me with her great big brown eyes. "You are going to yell at the lady?" GULP! Talk about an eye opener!!! I laugh about that now, but at the time, it really stung. I had to stop and admit to myself that I needed to change. When I went out and about, I started looking for chances to serve someone. I'd been taught that could help you feel better. I decided to test it out. I didn't do anything big or extravagant. A sincere smile, holding the door for a mom pushing a stroller, letting someone with just a few items go ahead of me in the check-out line, you get the idea. I figured something out. It really does help you feel better if you help someone else.
It's now been almost 6 years since the day my daughter changed my perspective with her innocent question. I'm still not perfect...far from it. But, I'm definitely getting better. Just a couple weeks ago, I had an experience that really tested me, and I'm glad to say, I managed to pass. It had been a long day. My husband had been out of town on business for several days, and I was ready for him to come home. I was tired and I wasn't feeling all that great. I had dropped my daughter off at gymnastics and my two boys off at wrestling practice and I decided to make a "quick" trip to Wal-mart for some groceries. Once I had filled my cart, I began searching for a check-out line with fewer than 3 carts in it. No luck. Finally, I became frustrated and wheeled into the nearest line. I was worried because I didn't think I was going to get through the line quickly enough to pick my five-year-old boys up on time. After several minutes of standing there simmering about how they never have enough check-out lines open, I finally noticed the woman standing in front of me. She had three small children with her. She held the baby - maybe 4 or 5 months old - in one arm because he was fussing. She was trying to keep her other two children near her while she juggled her purse and tried to unload her cart. She looked tired. None of them had their hair combed and all of them seemed in need of a good bath. The mom was missing a front tooth. She was nearly in tears. I'm sorry to say that my initial reaction was, "Man, I always pick the wrong line!!" But then something happened. Maybe my six years of practicing small acts of service paid off, because I opened my mouth and said, "Would you like me to hold your baby?" She stopped and stared at me as if I'd just stepped off a spaceship. "What?" "Would you like me to hold your baby?" "What...you...oh...REALLY?" "Sure," I replied. "My baby is five years old now, and I miss holding little ones." She passed me her infant and said, "Wow. Thanks." We visited as the cashier rang up her purchases. I told her she had cute kids. She brushed her daughter's hair out of her face and reached over and wiped off the baby's hands with her thumb. "Thanks. Oh, we're all such a mess," she said. "It's been one of those days." She shrugged apologetically. "We've all been there," I said. She smiled.
The whole encounter only lasted a few minutes, but as she walked out of the store, she was smiling. Funny thing....so was I. Instead of walking out of the store angry and fuming, I was happier than I had been all week. Service will do that. It brings us one step closer to our Savior, and one step away from our anger. If you don't believe me, give it a try. Oh yeah, and I still managed to get my boys picked up on time.