GEORGE AND GRUMPY

A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day. …A miserable heart means a miserable life; a cheerful heart fills the day with song. [Proverbs 15:13,15 (MSG)]

A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired. [Proverbs 17:22 (MSG)]

dogsThis is the first winter for many years that we’ve not spent a few months enjoying winter sports in the mountains. While I miss schussing down the mountain, what I miss most are the friends we made in our mountain town, one of whom is George. The person I don’t miss is someone I’ll call Grumpy (because it describes him perfectly). Both George and Grumpy were city bus drivers but their similarity ends with their occupation.

Grumpy never had a smile or a nice word to say to anyone. In fact, other than occasionally calling out a stop or telling us to move back, we never heard him say a word. Believe me, we tried. My husband and I made a point of greeting him by name, commenting on the weather, wishing him a good day and thanking him when we got off, all to no avail. Determined to get him to respond, we’d ask him how he was doing that day, if he had a good weekend, or managed to get in any skiing. In the several years we tried, we never got an answer or even a smile. The closest we ever got to seeing a grin was when Grumpy breezed by our stop with a loaded bus, leaving several disappointed skiers in the cold!

On the other hand, no matter how crowded the bus, challenging the weather, or difficult his passengers, George always had a friendly greeting and a pleasant word. When passengers got off the bus, he was sure to offer a cheery farewell and explain where a return bus could be found. He exhibited great patience in a variety of challenging circumstances and showed true concern for his passengers. He wasn’t merely polite; George went out of way to be cordial and accommodating to everyone.

We had two people in the same job and both did what was required of them. One, however, clearly enjoyed both job and life and the other, sad to say, just seemed determined to be miserable. From our conversations with George, we knew his life wasn’t easy; we also knew he was a man of faith. As for Grumpy—who knows? It’s hard to believe someone so unloving comprehended how much God loved him. He certainly couldn’t give away something he didn’t even know he had!

One day, I commented to George about his friendly demeanor, good humor and incredible patience. He responded, “Well, every morning I can either rise and whine or rise and shine; the choice is up to me!” He had a good point! We each have that choice every day we’re blessed to wake up on this side of the grass. What will you choose today?

There’s a decision we all have to make, and it seems perfectly captured in the Winnie-the-Pooh characters created by A.A. Milne. Each of us must decide: Am I a fun loving Tigger or am I a sad-sack Eeyore? Pick a camp. [From “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow]

Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. [Philippians 2:14-15 (MSG)]

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