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Posted January 10, 2012

Maintaining a Good Disposition

Eugene Hemrick

When you reach 75 years old, you need only two words in your vocabulary: "Thank you!" Gratitude is the real mark of genuine maturity, of spiritual health. This wisdom comes from Morris West, author of A View from the Ridge: The Testimony of a Twentieth-Century Christian. West is quick to concede that life is filled with hurts and disappointments, making gratitude very difficult to achieve.

No doubt all of us have experienced this difficulty as a result of injuries and subsequent resentments. Perhaps it was an expected promotion that never materialized, a disappointing marriage, or family members, chronic sickness or financial disaster. The list of woes is endless.

Woes tend to sour our disposition and dampen our kindness, making us ill-disposed toward others, the world and ourselves.

How might we counter this?

Consider the old saying: "If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas."

So picking positive, uplifting friends is one place to start.

When we are ill-disposed, we tend to live the saying, "Misery loves company," aligning with others who are disgruntled and resentful.

Focusing prayer is another way to combat a poor disposition. Compose a short prayer and recite it repeatedly throughout the day. For example: "Lord, may I never forget all the pain and resentments I have caused to others."

At first this may sound like adding to our ill-disposition by regretting injuring another, but just the opposite will occur!

When we are ill-disposed, we tend to get personal, to center on hurts from others and less on those we have hurt. The above prayer moves us outside of ourselves by encouraging us to speak with another about the matter -- God.

Furthermore, by thinking of those we might have hurt, it helps us to overcome a persecution complex that makes us feel we are the only ones who were ever disappointed, hurt or injured. It casts us into a humbling mood, reminding us that we are an offender as well as the offended.

No matter how old we are, there will always be bitter reminders of the hurts we endured that make it extremely difficult to forgive, forget and be grateful. Bitterness loves to wallow in itself because it keeps alive the desire for revenge and vindication.

An elderly woman once told me, "As you get older you don't seek more possessions, you give away those you have."

As difficult as it is to let go of bitterness, there comes a time in life when it behooves us to let it go in reparation for all the hurt we have caused and in gratitude for all God has given us.