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Changing my cranky pants

2 June 2021

Changing my cranky pants

The deliberate choice of kindness

Words Belinda Davis

We have a saying in our house when someone appears to be a little crankier than normal. It started when the kids were really little and were acting out. I would ask if they were wearing their ‘cranky pants’ today. When they would reply to the negative, but still with that ‘tone’, I would continue on, “Are you sure?” I would even offer to help them change out of their cranky pants and put better ones on. Usually by this point, the offender was giggling and it served as a helpful distraction. At the very least, it put them in a better frame of mind to be able to address the cause of their frustration.

Despite our children being much older now, I will still declare when I notice someone is choosing to wear their cranky pants. Sometimes now it can be me wearing the cranky pants, and I have had that pointed out to me as well. I can get cranky over the silliest things.

My cranky pants come on when there are drivers in front of me that can’t seem to work out when to enter a roundabout or when people are not abiding by pretty clear and noticeable warning signs. They come on when smokers blow their nicotine-loaded breath in my direction or when tradespeople do not turn up in the time frame they say they will. They come on when I see the same laborious ad for 50th time promoting the reality TV show I am never going to watch or when I have to avoid people walking towards me who can’t be off their phones for a single minute to navigate the footpath safely.

I get frustrated when I witness basic human decency and common sense not being abided by, according to my standards. I see the behaviour of others as quite selfish and foolish. They do not seem to consider the flow-on effect of their choices, especially as it impacts me.

And then I stop and realise that I am cranky because of my selfishness. What does it matter if people are not abiding by the rules? Because it impacts me. It wastes my time. It stops me doing what I want or hope to achieve. How dare they?

It is all too easy to survey the world around me and witness the multiple infractions others are making me suffer through, and not give a moment’s thought to the times when I justify my behaviours as necessary despite the inconveniences it may cause another.

When I find myself wearing a particularly cranky pair of pants, I have found it helpful to reflect upon the Bible’s words, written in Colossians chapter 3, verse 12: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

This can help me realise that cranky is not an article of clothing that God calls me to wear. When I replace my cranky pants with any one of the other traits listed, I find my frustration levels reduce and life is generally a more pleasant experience for me, and for those around me.

What pants are you wearing today?

Major Belinda Davis is a Salvation Army officer (pastor) in South Australia. She blogs at


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