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Your Attitude Determines Your Direction

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TRISHA HANNON SMITH

“Your attitude determines your direction” is a phrase that is popular on inspirational posters lining high school classrooms. Its counterparts, “Attitude is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it,” and my personal favorite, “Punch today in the face,” send the message that changing our mindset is the key to finding happiness in our everyday tasks.

 

I had the opportunity to view this in action, spending the afternoon celebrating the Confirmation of my niece, Michelle.

 

Michelle is the middle: the middle child, the middle niece, right in the middle of her high school career.  As a middle myself, I feel an affinity for where God dropped her in life.

It is easy for a middle to feel average (often referred to as “Jan Brady syndrome”); but as the median of the line of siblings, I see her holding a significant role.  She has developed a spirit of alliance and positivity that shines through.

 

This past weekend I was honored to act as sponsor for my niece’s confirmation in the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana.  Sacraments can be stressful. Although no one intends for this to happen, we sometimes get so caught up in the pageantry of the event that we forget the purpose.

 

We were asked to arrive at the church two hours prior to Mass in order to rehearse.

My niece became concerned about correctly shaking hands with the bishop, standing at the wrong time, or, gasp, walking too quickly down the aisle.

 

But just like flipping a switch, she and her friends turned the growing anxiety into humor.  We worked on handshakes by demonstrating what not to do. We practiced what would happen if we did indeed trip down the aisle. (One of us may or may not have tripped during practice.) When the catechist told the kids, “You look great - now walk like it,” we sashayed down the aisle.

 

During the ceremony, she walked confidently, beamed while shaking hands with the bishop with unclammy hands and joyfully welcomed being anointed with oil. And as she returned to her seat, as others around were uncomfortably comparing how much oil was dripping down their foreheads, she whispered, “It smells so good!”

 

Michelle chose Saint Joan of Arc as her patron saint, a fitting choice for a young woman who fights fiercely on the soccer field and with her brothers. It is recorded that when Joan of Arc was 13 years old, she had visions of Saint Michael, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret, each of whom told her to drive the English from French territories. After the visions, Joan cried, “They were so beautiful!”

 

Michelle and her friends were so beautiful - not only in physical beauty, which no one can deny.  But they displayed a beauty in their thoughts and actions; beauty as F. Scott Fitzgerald once described, “No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul.”

 

And as we were heading back to her house after Mass, she said the most beautiful thing of all.

 

“That was fun.”

 

It’s all because of the attitude, Sunshine.