Jan 6, 2008

What's On Your Mind?

“Finally, brothers, 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

I’ve been watching my husband today diligently doing our laundry. Yes, you read it right. Laundry. Lou is the one in this home who cleans and folds our clothes. However, we’ve had to get new wardrobes since he’s taken over this household chore. I recently discovered that he was washing many loads in warm or hot water and drying them on high heat. He figured, the higher the heat, the cleaner the shirt and the faster the dry. Although he might have been correct, faster also means smaller. And since half-shirts haven’t been in style since the 1980’s, I’m now considering passing along many of my tops to my 6-year-old neighbors. Thankfully, after some discussion, we’ve since gotten the process figured out and Lou can now be trusted with our garments. However, our clothes paid the price. And so did he.

I am, by nature, a critical person. I can gaze at my reflection in the mirror and find every imperfection (real or imagined) in lightning speed. Unfortunately, that critical eye has also been directed at my husband for the majority of our marriage, up until very recently, in fact. Instead of seeing a man who was trying to please me and help me with home duties, all I saw was a man who ruined my clothing. I chastised him, criticizing him for not knowing that colors are washed in cold and that you don’t dry anything on hot but towels and sheets! And I’m sad to say, my critiques did not stop there, nor have they ever. I have a history of passing judgment on everything from his appearance to the way he does his job (ridiculous, I know). I’m not proud of the way I’ve behaved. And, thankfully, God has been persistent and faithful to deal with this relationship-crippling tendency in me.

This past year, God made me aware that so much of the defeat that I’ve experienced in my life, whether it be in my marriage or out of it, is seeded in the way that I think. I have a knack for picking out a flaw in myself or Lou and rehearsing it ad nauseam, most times making it into something much worse than it really is. Because of this inclination, both Lou and I were struggling to find fulfillment in this marriage. Not only that, I was finding it difficult to find true pleasure in any facet of my life. I was always seeing the negative side or thinking of all the bad that could happen. I began to ask myself, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I love Lou the way he deserves to be loved? Why don’t I want to spend time with my husband? Why am I always fighting against being down?” And God said something along the lines of, “Because, child, you are thinking on the wrong things.”

Instead of dwelling on what is wrong with our spouses, our children, or ourselves, God instructs us to think on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. In the original language here, to “think about” means to reckon, count over and pass to one’s account. We are called to reckon, count over, and pass to one’s account their true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable qualities. We are called to count up ours as well. And we are not only told to count them up, but the original word also speaks of occupying ourselves with doing so. Instead of wasting our time dwelling on flaws, God wants us to expend our mental energies on recalling excellent qualities that He has implanted in every one of us.

I can choose to think about how I was faced again with an old sin yesterday, or I can choose to think about how far God has brought me in my fight against it. I can choose to think about how frustrated I am that my son is pushing boundaries, or I can choose to reflect upon how he is extremely loving, obedient most of the time, and is just in the midst of a healthy phase. I can choose to ruminate on the clothes that I’ve lost in the laundry fiasco, or I can choose to meditate on how my husband loves me deeply and is intentional in trying to share my workload.

We must choose our thoughts. I have gone so far as to make Philippians 4:8 my life verse for 2008. It is that important. I have noticed a significant difference in my life since I have begun the practice of concentrating on our gifts instead of our flaws. No longer do I walk around under a dark cloud. I am falling more in love with my husband and with this life that God has given me to live.

Are you looking for some joy? Think about what you’re thinking about.

Memory Verse: Philippians 4:8

Father, thank You, that even in the midst of flaws and imperfections, You have given us praiseworthy qualities as well. Instead of being overwhelmed with our own faults or consumed with criticizing others’, help us to be of somber judgment: to love ourselves and others in truth. In Christ’s name, amen.


Anonymous said...

I've missed your blogs so much in the past couple of weeks and this one just hits me in the heart at just the right time!
I love you and can't wait to see you!

darren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Misti said...

Oh, I wish I knew who this was! Thank you so much for your sweet comment. It always blesses me to know that God is speaking to someone. God bless you.

mb cameron said...

AMEN! There is always something negative. The world is the world and every time man has fallen. But we do not live under the law, we live in the freedom of Christ. God gave us our looks, our husbands, our circumstances, our struggles to bring us closer to him. If my apartment burned down would I say "Praise the Lord!" After reading your post I might :) Thanks for your wonderful writing.