When I was in high school, I spent a lot of my time feeling EXTREMELY awkward. I tried very hard to blend into the background, but truthfully, blending is a little hard to do when you’re six feet tall. And there was one scholastic event that always made me feel like I was sticking out like a sore thumb. What was it?? It was pep rallies.
GACK!!! The name alone gives me the shivers.
Pep rallies were supposed to be fun. Pep rallies were supposed to be a treat. Most students LOVED pep rallies. My friends adored them. But I hated pep rallies with a purple passion.
That’s simple. Sometime during the pep rally, cheerleaders would inevitably dash out onto the gym floor and lead the student body in “school spirit” cheers. Most of the time, these cheers involved you rising to your feet and doing something silly. I HATED looking silly. In fact, every inch of my six-foot frame HATED looking silly. The worst cheer of all was the funky chicken dance. During the cheer, students were supposed to squat down, wiggle their legs in and out, and flap their arms like a chicken.
I used to have nightmares about the funky chicken dance.
Whenever a pep rally would begin, my heart would start to race. As the cheerleaders surged onto the gym floor, I would earnestly start to pray: “Please, Lord! Don’t let them do the funky chicken dance. Please, Lord! Don’t let them…” Sometimes, my prayers would work, but most of the time they didn’t. And as the cute, petite cheerleaders with their electric grins would call for us to stand, I would groan. Afraid to be rebelliously disobedient, I would rise to the call and try to make my gangly, six-foot frame look graceful as I danced like a chicken. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible for someone as clumsy and tall as me to flap around in an attractive way. I looked like an utter idiot. And I knew it.
I used to die a little after every “funky chicken” episode. I was certain THE WHOLE SCHOOL was looking at me and seeing how uncoordinated I was. Years later, of course, I realized that I wasn’t actually the center of the universe and that most people didn’t have time to focus on anything other than themselves—but at the time, my teenaged-self was convinced that all eyes were focused directly on me as I danced like a chicken. It was truly humiliating.
Although the funky chicken episodes were pretty horrible, there was another school cheer that was actually pretty cool. I can’t remember all of it, just the words: “Attitude check, how do you feel? —I feel good! Oh, I feel so good!” Down through the years, I’ve repeated those words to myself about a million times. You see, I believe it’s important to have “attitude checks.” Sometimes, when I’m feeling angry, blue, or scared, I will close my eyes and mentally recite the “attitude” cheer.
James 1:19 says, “Let everyone be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” When I feel myself becoming angry, I get a picture in my mind of those spunky cheerleaders and their electric grins. I picture them clapping their hands and shouting, “Attitude check! How do you feel?” Taking a deep breath, I clamp a lid on my anger and mentally respond, “I feel good! Oh, I feel so good!”
Psalm 41:11 says, “But O my soul, don’t be discouraged. Don’t be upset. Expect God to act! For I know that I shall again have plenty of reason to praise Him for all that He will do. He is my help! He is my God!” When I feel myself becoming blue, I again think of those cheerleaders. “Attitude check! How do you feel?” Brushing away my tears, I pin on a smile and respond, “I feel good! Oh, I feel so good!”
Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” When I am afraid, the cheerleaders dance through my brain, and I mentally chant: “Attitude check! How do you feel?— I feel good! Oh, I feel so good!”
My years in quarantine were extremely difficult, and there were lots of times when I wanted to give up. But during those years, I learned an important lesson—ATTITUDE is everything. I spent several of my quarantined years feeling miserable, upset, discouraged, afraid, and angry. I really didn’t like how that felt, so I pinned a smile on my lips, and with God’s help, I changed my attitude. Although changing my attitude was HARD—it WAS possible. I’ve learned through bitter experience that no matter what life tosses at me, I CAN be happy. I CAN be content. I CAN be sweet and kind. It all depends on my attitude.
Attitude check! How do you feel?—I feel good! Oh, I feel so good!
You know what? Maybe those HORRIBLE pep rallies were an important part of my scholastic experience after all. Thinking about it, they did teach me something… But regardless, I’m NEVER going to be fond of dancing like a chicken.