Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Changing the Way I Think...One Thought at a Time

A picture outside the house I grew up in. Summer 1987
I played outside all the time while growing up in St. Wendel, Indiana, barefoot until late fall.  The ice cream truck visited, the neighborhood kids created our own Fourth of July parades, we caught lightening bugs and put them in jars, we played with crawdads from the creek, we made pottery out of mud and baked it in the sun.  I can smell the laundry detergent off of the clothes on the clothesline and remember the sounds of the attic fan pulling in the night sounds with the breeze at night.  I remember my mother scrubbing my black tarred feet after a long day of running back and forth over the chip and sealed road.  Eating berries off of the vines and sucking the 'juice' out of the honeysuckle. Swinging high in the shade out over the creek on the rope swing with the wood seat my daddy made me and riding my pink Schwinn with the banana seat, tinsel streamers on the handlebars flying.  

Lovely thoughts from the way back past.  Things to think on.  Do I have other memories that don't make me smile and relax from my years of growing up?  Oh yes - and I can remember them in as much detail!

What am I thinking about from just this past week?  Well, I'm dwelling on how I let a friend down and hurt her.  Even though she's forgiven me, I am choosing to replay it in my mind.  What could I think about instead from the past week?  Maybe how God arranged a divine appointment with a new friend and gave me joy for that afternoon?  Or how Emily and Evan are happy with their new teachers and are enjoying school so far?  Or how I felt so blessed to be back at a Bible Study group after the summer off?  Those things sound better.

What kind of everyday thoughts are in my head right now?  I'm tired.  I'm still feeling alone here.  My spirit is downcast.  Jane Doe down the road doesn't like me.  

I just reread one of the verses I think God wants me to remember each hour of each day.  
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8
A few years ago I spent some time looking up each one of these words.
True: reality and fact, accurate, genuine, real
Noble: set apart, superior, high moral character
Right: beneficial, desirable, convenient, good, correct, being in accord with fact, reason and truth
Pure: without faults, clean, without impurities, inappropriate or unnecessary things
Lovely: full of love, inspiring love and affection, attractive qualities
Admirable: having wonder or delighted approval
Excellent: exceptionally good, superior, excelling
Praiseworthy: meriting praise and exaltation

I was surprised at how 'good' all of this was.  I mean, seriously, how am I supposed to think only on this stuff?  Have you seen what goes through my mind in a given hour, God?  The answer...yes...He has.  Verse 9 goes on to say, "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you."  Wow, that's exactly what I need...peace.  Romans 8:6b says, "The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace."  

These everyday thoughts that I just wrote down definitely don't line up with what God wants me to be thinking on.  It is not lovely, right, or true...  Here's what He'd like me to think about:  I am tired - God will give me rest.  Thank you God.  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)  I feel alone - God says I'm never alone. Thank you God. He also says He will give me the desires of my heart...might just need to be patient...  "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)  and "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)  My spirit is downcast...just think about what He has done for me!  The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." (Psalm 126:3)  Jane Doe...first of all this is my perception, it is not truth.  But then I need to remember that Jesus, perfect Jesus, did not gain approval from everyone so why do I think that I should?  "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." (John 15:8)  Why do I think I've failed when someone does not like me?  It is okay that others do not like me.  I will live at peace with everyone as far as I can and then leave it into God's hands. "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18)

Here is what the goal is - "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:15)  Yes, a lot of my 'changed' thoughts above were scripture.  But I know that it is truth.  Sometimes it's hard to judge what is and isn't truth in my confuddled brain of mine.  But I know that God's word is true, so I will start there.  I will allow God to transform me into a new person - one thought at a time.  And intentionally choose to think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy .  And the God of peace will be with me.

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." (Romans 12:2 NLT)

1 comment:

  1. Whatsoever...
    That should have been my thought today instead of "WhatEVER!" Thank goodness His mercies are new tomorrow!
    Thank you once again for the heartfelt honesty and the reminder to "think on these things!"