Got the Grumpies?

Have you ever noticed that grumpiness cuts deep ruts? A grumpy day or two and before you know it, your go-to mood—and the routine mood of your family—is grumpy.

A while ago I noticed that I had a few Grumpy Gus’ living in my house. First, there’s my four-year-old Eli who doesn’t seem to have a right side of the bed. He wakes up cranky and pouty most mornings.

Then there’s his toddler brother, Noble. I know they aren’t called Terrible Twos for nothing, but is it too much to ask that those fits are served with a smile?

My husband has an incredibly even temperament. I can’t say he’s been grumpy per se, but I don’t see a lot of smiles on his face, and frankly, I don’t hear his robust laugh often enough.

Oh, and then there’s the ringleader of the grumpies . . . me. The winter always puts me in a funk and lately I’ve been irritable, short tempered, cantankerous, and well . . . grumpy.

I happen to know that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:21–23). When we are light on these virtues and heavy on their opposites, clearly God has work to do in our hearts. With that in mind, I opened the Word and did a topical study on “joy.” The way I figure it, joy is the best vaccine against the grumpiness that seemed to be spreading in our home.

Early in my studies, I found this little gem:

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. (Ps. 4:7)

That verse leapt off the page at me as the way to get out of the grumpy rut and cut a new, more joyful path. So, I’ve started praying this prayer for each member of my family every morning:

“Lord, put more joy in our hearts than others have when their grain and wine abound.”

It’s a simple prayer and a simple request. But since Galatians 5 makes it clear that joy is the fruit of God’s Spirit at work, and since our grumpiness is a side effect of our own sinful nature, I need to depend on God to give us more joy.

It’s not the same as slapping a smile on our faces. It doesn’t necessarily mean a change in circumstances. Notice that the Psalmist doesn’t ask God to change his circumstances so that he is the one with wine and crops in abundance. Instead, He simply asks for God-given joy that exceeds the temporary happiness others might have as a result of a moment of prosperity.

Has it worked? Yes, it has. I’ve noticed a change in the climate of our home. There is, overall, a lot less unnecessary grumpiness and a lot more smiles, laughs, kind words, and happy days. Spring isn’t here yet. Our circumstances haven’t changed, but God is answering my request to put more joy in our hearts.

Has grumpiness cut deep ruts in your house? With your family? At your workplace?

Might I suggest you pray a prayer that is making a difference for us? Will you join me in praying Psalm 4:7 often and making 2013 a year where joy flows like wine?

“Jesus, please make this a year when you put more joy in our hearts than others have when their grain and wine abound. Amen.”