It was 7:45 a.m., and I had already made three trips up and down the stairs. Little children, on a quest to find hidden Easter candy, would take turns sneaking downstairs while I was helping their brother or sister get ready for school. By the third time I pulled a toddler off the kitchen counter, my mood was wrecked for the day.
When is he going to install those baby gates?! If I can’t even change a diaper without a child climbing on top of the refrigerator, I certainly can’t do any tasks myself that would require power tools!
And with that thought I recalled every item on my husband’s ‘honey-do’ list. I began to organize the list into a book with chapters, and I wrote a mental preface explaining how hard my job as a stay-at-home mom to three crazies five and under was and how it was exponentially harder because my husband’s list had grown too long.
I know the power of thoughts. I can drive from 0 to 60 on the witch-mobile in two seconds flat.
So I really didn’t appreciate the sermon yesterday on Phillipians 4:8-9:
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. (The Message)
Think about the best not the worst? The beautiful not the ugly? Please! How can I not think about the four inches of hair my daughter clipped from her beautiful head?! And of course, if I think about that event, there’s no way I can stop myself from thinking about something on the ‘honey-do’ list that was the inevitable cause!
But then I realized that there was a time when I taught myself to think differently, to find thoughts full of praise instead of curses. For Lent, I decided to give up complaining about when Matt came home from work–and I didn’t plan on indulging in complaints once Easter arrived, either. I knew that my complaining was a sin, and every time I was tempted to do it, I wanted to remind myself that it was sins like this one that sent Jesus to the cross.
After all, Matt’s doing his job and providing for his family. He comes home right after work and can’t help it that he sits in traffic for an hour and half. We tried to move–it didn’t work–so now it was time for me to move on in my thoughts. I needed to provide a place of refuge in our home, not a storehouse for tension.
I don’t know if Matt noticed, but I learned to bite my tongue. And after biting my tongue enough times, I trained myself to not have the thoughts causing me to bite my tongue in the first place. I wasn’t perfect–I slipped right before Easter–but I saw how changing my overall thinking for 40 days changed my entire mood.
And I hate to admit it, but John Maxwell was right. In his sermon yesterday, he challenged us with the thought that “when we want to fix others, it’s normally we who need to be fixed.”
I don’t like thinking that way. I’d rather think about baby gates and cluttered attic spaces instead of the junk cluttering up my own mind.
The best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
But, perhaps, there just might be something to not thinking about the baby gates after all.
17 thoughts on “Rethinking My Thinking”
Grrrr. I just wrote a long commented, and then I was booted out! I'm sure it is something on my end.
So thanks for this post, Jennifer. It really speaks to me. All last week, I was mad a basically everyone I knew. Oh, what is wrong with these people? Of course, I'm to blame for quite a bit, and I'm the one who needs some serious fixing, but it's hard to see that when I'm angry.
Also, I wanted to thank you again, for the prayer you left at my place, and let you know I have been praying for you too. Kids are hard. Three kids so young must be maddening at times. I hope you guys have a wonderful week.
Oh my, look at all the mistakes! Grrr, again.
Such a hard revelation isn't it, that change comes from within, rather than hopping upon our witch mobile (love that!) and pointing a finger at someone else! A good lesson here, Jennifer.
Ouch is right! But ouch is sometimes good, instructive. I know what you mean about the honey-do list. When I'm tempted to recite it, I have to bite my tongue. My hubby works so hard to work and spend time with family and do all he does. He must feel like I do with that endless basket of dirty laundry sometimes!
sometimes i flip it around and think about what could go on the list of complaints my husband would have about me….quite humbling. great post!
Oh, yes. When I thought about our marriage from Matt's perspective, I was amazed that he doesn't go to bed crying each night! 😉
I love this. So hard to do, but so good and right. I LOVED this "The best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse." I am going to be running that through my mind a bit. Thank you for sharing. Your blog is lovely.
As soon as I saw the title to this post I thought of the old Kenny Rogers song (I'm not quite sure of the title, but I think it is) "I Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In." I'm sure everyone else did too. (is that the sound of crickets chirping?) The reality is that we all need to be fixed, it's been my experience that women are a bit more vocal than men are about trying to "fix" their men or change them into their ideal husband. My wife and I are the same. Although I've never heard any professional express this, my guess is that in general men and women both know that women are usually a little better in most ways than a man. I think that's why we aren't looking for our spouses to change, how can you ask someone to be better, when they're already better than us to begin with. Again, generally speaking, I know that everyone has weaknesses. Just a thought… It's nice to see so many people trying, I think that is an honor before God all by itself.
Oh yeah, sister – I totally get this. I had 3 kids in 4.5 years and I was exhausted the entire time! But…you are right to intentionally put the accent on the positive as often as possible. In the long run, it helps you as well as makes your husband's and family's life a little more pleasant. But a good old case of the grrrrr's?? Yeah, been there, done that. Many blessings as you tend your small flock – it's the best job out there, even though it does you in from time to time. I know you're heard this a million times – but it really, REALLY is true: this time will be gone before you know it. Hang on, hang in. Look for the beauty – it's there, even amidst the unplanned haircuts and climbing-too-high-for-their-own-good toddlers. I thoroughly enjoy your blog – love getting it in my inbox.
My Dad once asked my Mum for a to-do list thinking all the little jobs around the house were done – needless to say after recieving 10 pages he never asked again!
Ha ha! My husband, also, asked me for a list so that he could make a spreadsheet and check off the items. I warned him that he might end up spending a little too much time on the computer due to the length of the list! 😉
Thanks for this reminder…I, too, need to find ways to bite my tongue and banish the thoughts behind the complaints and criticisms of my husband. I find this is much easier said than done. Maybe I need to make it a more formal "project" so it gets the focus and attention required to change a habit.
I know I had to. My natural inclination is definitely not to act as 'good' as I'd like.
Thanks for this reminder…I, too, need to find ways to bite my tongue and banish the thoughts behind the complaints and criticisms of my husband. I find this is much easier said than done. Maybe I need to make it a more formal “project” so it gets the focus and attention required to change a habit.
Such a great reminder. My mind races with so many thoughts that I do need to remember to steer them in the right direction. I always love your articles, Jen. Thanks!
I used to get so down on myself about thinking thoughts that were not glorifying to God. But now, I confess right there, give it to God, and then think the positive thought in it's place. It makes it much easier to live in a more positive way because it seems like guilt from the past always made me more susceptible to negative thoughts.
I love the Philippians verse. It's my "go-to" verse when Satan brings unwanted thoughts.