...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.
That verse has been haunting me for a few years because I never knew WHAT EXACTLY I was supposed to think about. I wanted a list. A list of things, not a list describing things. WHAT? WHAT IS PURE? BC water? Think about tap water in my kitchen? Thank God for creating clean drinking water?
Praiseworthy? WHAT IS PRAISEWORTHY? Getting a Nobel Peace prize? That's worthy of praise. I should be thinking about smart people that God created?
Lovely? Flowers? Flowers are lovely. God wants me to think about flowers instead of being angry? Graduating girls in their gowns are lovely. Instead of feeling sad, I should think about eighteen year old smiling girls?
I am so literal.
And this verse seemed like a riddle, as in, 'here are the clues, figure out what you should be thinking about and - There is only one right answer.' This verse was a test to see if I was smart enough to discover what God was really wanting me to spend time pondering on.
This summer, I thought I had an AH HA moment and I started making a list of THINGS TO THINK ABOUT. You may remember reading it and smirking to yourself.
I think I just had another AH HA moment. In regards to this verse. I know, right? Two ah ha moments IN ONE YEAR! Whoa. Being 51 is awesome.
Shall I share?
Today, I'm thinking that we should be thinking of 'these things' (list above; true, noble, right, etc.) IN TERMS OF PEOPLE. Hang in there, stay with me on this.
Instead of remembering and dwelling on the ways a person has hurt, annoyed, or disappointed you... maybe, think about the things that person has done that are praiseworthy. Lovely. Admirable. Etc. Annnnnd, here's the stretch - think about the things that person has done, not necessarily TO YOU that are good*. (*Good = True, Lovely, Praiseworthy, Noble, etc)
For example - say Matilda was acting all holy the other day, and in her most judgementalish voice she said something really condescending. And man. That just bunched your knickers. Seriously. WHO IS SHE to talk like that?
Know what? It'll take less than 10 seconds, at that point, to think on other things that you hate about her. Know what? At that point? Lift the needle out of the groove of that song and THINK ON THINGS ABOUT HER THAT ARE *GOOD. (*Good =True, Noble, Pure, Admirable, etc). That's the hard part. The needle is already in the groove. You have to lift it up and move it to another song. (If you weren't born in the '60's or earlier you may not get this reference. I feel sad for you. It's SUCH a good metaphor.)
I'm wondering if men struggle with this as much as women?
We mull things over all the livelong day until the cows come home. We have these memories that are like steal traps. "She said ..." "They did..." or even as damning, "He didn't ..."
We have unmet expectations re: our husbands, our children, our parents, our friends. We have hurt feelings because of things we overheard or didn't hear. We are sad because they got together and didn't call us. We are angry because she acted superior, he ignored us, she seemed fake, he didn't provide what he promised, they lost their temper, they were out of line when they said that. They always invite them, but never us and WE DO SO MUCH FOR THEM. They don't say thank you. They eat sushi. They don't eat quinoa. They are shallow and you're tired of small talk. They only talk about topics no one else cares about - they're just showing off. He never takes out the garbage. She is so picky. He doesn't try. She reads Harlequin. He doesn't write me love sonnets anymore. She cooked ham and she KNOW'S I'm allergic. He'd rather play video games. She is over-reacting. He won't. She did. Blah Blah. Blah.
It's all so weary-ing.
When you realize you're playing an old whiny song in your head about someone, STOP DOING IT. Playing the same song over and over again, just digs that groove deeper. And it gets increasingly harder to get out of.
New metaphor: Here's what you do: Pick up the shovel and dig another rut for your mind's thought pathway to go to. Shovelling compacted dirt and old shit to make a new ditch on hard ground is difficult work. Maybe hang out with friends who will help.
Do you know someone who always sees the bright side of things? Someone who is mostly positive about the people in her life? Someone who doesn't always agree when you complain about someone else? HANG OUT WITH HER. Without much effort (and probably without her even knowing it), she is helping you dig that ditch. Move the needle to a new song.
And that new song? Is filled with positive GOOD vibes. You are going to line that ditch with thoughts of ways that person has demonstrated loveliness and kindness and gentleness to others and maybe to you. They bring meals to new moms. They volunteer at Salvation Army. They are caring for an elderly parent. They have a special needs child. They have forgiven an abusive relative. They have overcome learning disabilities. They have a loving marriage. They love their kids. They help out at school. They work in the church nursery. They visit the shut ins. They are patient. They are helpful. They are supportive. Think on these things.
And then make sure to surround yourself with people who are pure, hot, good, lovely, kind, warm-hearted, sweet, sexy, admirable, excellent. Pick up a shovel. Listen to a new tune.
I could be wrong about this verse.
Maybe I'll have another ah ha moment regarding it next year.