March 21, 2007

Attitude Adjustments

2007 1509 page31 caphile working at Columbia Union College in the academic dean’s office, I supervised several student workers. One student, Christy, when asked how she enjoyed her school break, would often reply, “Well, my dad gave me an attitude adjustment. Now I’m doing great!” Unfortunately, my attitude adjustments started much earlier in life.
I was a good kid. Even my brothers and sister thought so; which is why it was such a shock for them when I got suspended from school in fifth grade.
Why did we have to wear such long skirts?
The teachers made us stand straight and place our arms firmly against our legs (remember this exercise, ladies?). The length of our longest finger was the guide for the length of our skirts. Ridiculous! At least that’s what my girlfriends and I thought.
One particular fall day, we decided that we’d had enough. We all wore skirts with elastic waistbands to school. When we arrived at school that morning, we rolled our skirts up at the waist to make them shorter. There—we were cool!
2007 1509 page31It didn’t take long for our teacher, who also happened to be the principal, to call us into his office. Mr. Kriigle was a soft-spoken, fun-loving guy. He was kind as he spoke with us about our skirts. I don’t think he had planned to suspend me from school, but I gave him no other option.
As Mr. Kriigle spoke to me about the skirt, I looked at him and replied sarcastically, “If you want me to wear different clothes, why don’t you just go out and buy them for me yourself?” (Disclaimer: Kids, do NOT try this at your school!)
When Mom brought me home from school that day and told the family what had happened, my brothers and sister were incredulous. “No, not Bonita!” “You are kidding, aren’t you?” I think they were getting a kick out of the situation. Daddy wasn’t so amused.
Daddy didn’t say much that day. He spoke slowly and weighed his words carefully. “Do you know the only reason you are at that school?” I may have had a smart mouth, but I wasn’t dense. I kept my mouth shut this time.
“Because the church helps pay your bill.”
It took courage and humility for a father to admit to his young daughter that his family was dependent on church funds to send her to church school. It also knocked a large part of the chip off my shoulder.
I wish I could say that ended my need for attitude adjustments. One of my more memorable attitude adjustments took place shortly after I was married.
Roy and I played volleyball regularly at the time. A new guy showed up on the court who, quite frankly,
I didn’t like. I hate to admit this, but I thought he was a jerk.
As we picked teams each week, inevitably I would be chosen as his teammate and would be placed right next to him. Not again! I cried inwardly. I thought this a strange coincidence, until it happened so many times that I then realized that my heavenly Daddy was in the business of
attitude adjustments as well.
This isn’t funny! I fumed one evening to the Lord as I walked over to my place on the court—right next to him. But I decided that I might as well get used to this guy, since I was going to be his teammate until the Lord deemed otherwise.
Once I put aside my preconceived ideas, and worked alongside of him as a teammate, I realized that he wasn’t a jerk after all.
While I can’t say I look forward to these attitude adjustments, I have come to embrace them as my heavenly Father’s way of recreating me into His image (Heb. 12:11). If through them I can learn to love God, others, and myself more perfectly, then I can respond with Christy, “Yes, my Father gave me an attitude adjustment. Now, I’m doing great!”
Bonita Joyner Shields is an assistant editor of the Adventist Review.