Attitude key in times of despair

Published 6:00 am Sunday, December 30, 2012

The blessing of the holidays is not distributed evenly. While many of us were graced with the joys of family, too much food and an over-abundance of gifts on Christmas Day, too many others felt the burden of their circumstances, whether imposed by man or nature.

      Our neighbors over in Lawrence County were struck by a devastating tornado on Christmas Day, displacing families from their homes and sending workers into harm’s way to save lives and restore power. Many of those families are still burdened with putting their homes and lives back together.

     Across the nation, the inclement weather wreaked havoc on homes and families. Travelers were stranded, homes destroyed and lives were lost. While on the other hand, this same storm provided a welcome chance for children to make snow angels and test new sleds left under the tree by Santa. One man’s burden can be another man’s blessing.

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     My Christmas was filled with blessings. My children were at home with Patti and me. We watched Christmas movies in a warm house filled with lights, laughter and plenty to eat. My extended family, too, Dad, Mom and sisters, spent the holidays together, safe from harm. We are truly blessed. 

     With so much to be thankful for, what could possibly get under my skin this joyous season? How about a canceled airplane flight? Trivial, I know, but still maddening for a type-A personality who plans his work and intends to work his plan. This storm that upended so many lives across the South on Christmas Day had just derailed my inconsequential travel agenda.

      Standing awestruck at the airline check-in counter, I was immediately transformed from happy camper to disgruntled traveler. At that moment, I’m sure the last thing the ticket clerk at the counter wanted to hear for the couple-of-hundredth time that day was how burdensome this was to me. She, too, had obviously had a very long day.

      Neither of us smiled much during that conversation until a favorite quote of mine came to mind. The quote is by Chuck Swindoll and talks about the all importance of attitude. Swindoll writes in part: “I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. We are in charge of our attitudes.”

      This quote, and one of my favorite Bible verses, Philippians 4:6-7, are what I often refer back to as I wrestle with daily encounters that don’t go as planned.

     So many lives have been turned upside-down these days with our soldiers being deployed to wars overseas, natural disasters like the tornado in Lawrence County or the superstorm that hit the East Coast, and to the most unimaginable tragedies like the one in Newtown, Conn.

      I can’t even imagine the heart-wrenching despair that would come with such devastating loss. I do know for us sweating the small stuff, Chuck Swindoll’s advice can help us all keep life’s little inconveniences in perspective.

     Here’s wishing all our readers a happy, prosperous and peaceful New Year.

     Rick Reynolds is president/publisher of The Daily Leader. Contact him at