You may be asking yourself, “What makes Charisse Tyson an authority on how to change your attitude towards adversity?” I’m no expert, that’s for sure, but I have had a lot of practice in this arena. As I divulge in my memoir Born Again in a Biker Bar, it wasn’t until I decided to leave my alcoholic husband in God’s hands and be content regardless of my circumstances that my circumstances changed.
When I renewed my relationship with Christ in January of 2002, I got a very clear word from God that my marriage would be saved. Tommy and I were already separated and I’d been to a paralegal to start the divorce paperwork. You may be wondering, “What does she mean by a word from God?” It wasn’t as if a loud audible voice filled my car, I was on Fraizer Lake Road, on my way home from an Al-Anon meeting in San Jose. What I experienced was a voice in my head and a knowing in my heart, followed by an indescribable peace in my soul. I knew that Tommy and I would get back together and stay together forever. I was elated. I cried so hard that I thought I may have to pull my car over to the side of the road.
Have you ever felt a knowing in your heart about something, even when it made no sense and defied reality? If you have I believe it was God speaking to you. Feel free to draw your own conclusions. In my case I was very sure it was God. I made a complete turnaround and changed my ways to be in His will, so that He could work miracles in my life. I went from cussing like a sailor to chastising bar patrons for using bad language. The F-word made me cringe. My customers at Johnny’s wanted to know what I had done with the old Charisse and they wanted their party girl back.
At any rate, I made drastic changes in my life to act more like the Christian that I proposed to be. Naturally I assumed that God would get right to work on Tommy. After all, I was doing what He asked me to do, and wasn’t Tommy the one with the problem? Despite what I heard at every Al-Anon meeting, I hadn’t really accepted the fact that our mess was brought on as much my codependency as it was Tommy’s alcoholism. And, God had no intention of working on Tommy until He had done a bigger work in me. He didn’t confirm that for me as dramatically as His confirmation that I was married to the right man. It only became obvious after many “Why, God why?” and “When God when?” meltdowns.
What I learned from the experience is what I want to share with you. My hope is that you may get your miracle, or see your change, without having to suffer through four more years of trials the way that I did. When I finally got it, I wished that I would have listened to the promptings a heck of a lot sooner. I have to give Joyce Meyer a lot of credit here. If it weren’t for her teachings I might still be struggling with my codependency issues and Tommy would probably be dead. He was drinking at least a fifth of Jack Daniels and a fifth of vodka every day. When the Rite Aid clerk has your cell phone number and calls to let you know that your favorite choice of alcohol is on sale, you may have a problem.
Anyway, getting back to how to change your attitude towards adversity. Think about the last time you had one of those really bad days. You know the one. You burn your toast at breakfast; find out that you are out of milk, and go to get into your car for work, only to find out that you have a flat tire? You throw your keys on the floor in frustration and bump your head on the car mirror when you go to pick them up. Your attitude towards all this adversity can either put a stop to some of the misery, or ensure that you will get more of the same all day. Believe me, I know of what I speak.
In the case of Tommy’s alcoholism, when my attitude towards the problem changed so did my circumstances. In the beginning I prayed that things would be better but then expected the worst. I’d hear the ice cubes hit his glass at six a.m., picture him pouring the vodka into it, and my mind was off and running. “This is never going to change – He is going to drink himself to death – He’s going to get arrested and I will have to pay for it financially – He’s going to kill himself or someone else – He doesn’t care about me or anyone else, only himself.” The record played over and over again in my head. When I got home from work I found him thoroughly sloshed, on the couch watching TV. I fixed him dinner and more of it wound up on his shirt than in his mouth.
One night I threw myself on my bed and cried out in frustration, “What more do want from me God? How much more of this do you expect me to take?” The still small voice had a couple of very important things to say to me. I’m paraphrasing but the gist of it was this, you say you are leaving Tommy to me but continue to try to change him yourself. You say that you believe that I have the best planned for you but you expect the worst. Your happiness is not based on your relationship with me; it’s based on your circumstances. Even those that have never picked up a Bible in their lives know John 8:32, “And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” It certainly did for me.
As He always does, God revealed scripture to me that helped me to move forward in my spiritual walk. That in turn, helped me to change my attitude in the face of adversity. The apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:12-13, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” I put those words to work in my life. When I started feeling sad or sorry for myself I would say out loud, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I’d say it over and over again with a smile on my face. Before I knew it I felt invincible. I started screaming at the devil, “You won’t steal my peace or my joy!” I got happy in the face of adversity. And you know what happened? Tommy got sober. I’ll let you read the details of that miraculous occasion in my book.
My advice on how to change your attitude towards adversity is: smile anyway and believe for the best. Even if your situation doesn’t change right away, you will certainly feel better about it. Turn off that negative voice in your head by speaking positive words out of your mouth. You can decide what to think and what to believe. Follow this advice and your misery is less likely to turn into a really bad attitude or even depression. Bonus, you will be a lot more pleasant to be around and may even draw in more friends.