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.