- Self-pity. Nourishing an internal-feeling world of victim; compassion turned inward.
- Bitterness. A simmering demand that God make my world just.
- Cynicism and mocking. Restoring balance by mocking the other person.
- Gossip and slander. Creating a community of empathizers who see my pain.
- Emotional revenge. Withdrawing my heart to punish the other person.
In America, where we have incredible abundance, we are becoming increasingly cranky. Our touchiness is fed by an outlook on life that, following Emerson and Thoreau, enshrines the self. When feeling happy is the goal, we always end up testy because life conspires against us. Stephen Marche, reflecting on how our pursuit of happiness is leaving us exhausted, observes, “The more you try to be happy, the less happy you are.” But when love is the goal, we reap joy because no one can steal love.
The cure for a cranky soul begins by repenting, by realizing that my moodiness is a demand that my life have a certain shape. Surrendering to the life that my Father has given me always puts me under the shelter of his wings. That leaves me whole again, and surprisingly cheerful.
From Paul Miller, A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships.