It is funny how sometimes, themes run through your life. For me, the same Bible verses will keep popping up, in different venues. Someone will bring it up during an adults group, and then it will be in the chronological study, and then in the Ladies Bible study book, and again on the radio.
For me, lately that verse has been the Whatevers - Philippians 4:8 -
Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is
just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable--if
there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise--dwell on these
I kind of love the Young's Literal Translation -
As to the rest, brethren, as many things as are true, as many as are
grave, as many as are righteous, as many as are pure, as many as are
lovely, as many as are of good report, if any worthiness, and if any
praise, these things think upon;
I am bombarded daily with thoughts. Things I want to think on, things other people want me to think about, thoughts my boys, or others, want to share with me. The news, advertisements, social media, Christian media, work, school, home... there are bajizillions (a whole heck of a lot) of thoughts out there screaming for our attention. It can make a person have to go see the nut doctor. Or want to move to a tamped mud house in the middle of nowhere.
But, really, it all boils down to simplicity, and the discipline to train your brain back on that simplicity. Truth, gravity, righteousness, purity, love, good reports, worthiness, praises. Think about these things. Simple. And I can make it so, so, so complicated.
My first problem is that nature abhors a vacuum. Apparently, so does my son's dog, but that is another story. While sometimes, I am able to legitimately think about nothing, I can't seem to do it on command. If I am being hit with a thousand thoughts, I am going to pick one. And if that one doesn't sit well, and I try to send it on it's way, another one will come sliding right in behind it, bringing it's ugly cousin with it. Kinda like the laundry pile. No matter how much you take away, it just keeps growing.
Secondly, Newton's laws state that objects will tend to stay in motion or at rest, all things being equal; AND that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. (For me this means that I will have to spend just as much energy doing the laundry, as my boys did in getting it dirty. Doesn't seem fair, does it?) So if my thoughts get invited to a pity party or a tour through the seedier side of town, it is a well greased path and they will just continue sliding on in that direction.
So whatever direction my brain is moving, all things being equal, it will stay in that direction. I just have to get it going the way I want it. And all I have to do to switch gears is expend the same energy on an equal and opposite thought pattern. I don't have to figure out how to STOP negative thoughts. Just to START thinking on God's thoughts. He even gives me a pretty cool cheat sheet of things to start thinking on.
That is pretty awesome. All of those thoughts that would draw me further from God - I don't have to wage war on them. I don't have to figure out how to turn off my brain, or magic-eraser them away. Just simply, consciously choose other thoughts. I suppose, since God is telling me about this over and over, it bears further investigating.
But for now the word "Whatever" is just so perfect for this. Having teens, the word "whatever" is usually used to show disdain towards or the inferiority of the thing someone else (usually a brother) is saying. So it makes me giggle to read it, and I have to to flip my hand up, roll my eyes, and do the What-----EVER voice in my head. You know you do it sometimes too.
But it really works here:
The latest gossip? Whatever - All I really have to do is turn my mind to what
Filled with anger at my ex-husband? Whatever - I can instead focus on the things that are of
Kid being a little mouthy today? WhatEver - There are so many commendables about him that I know he is on the right path, but having a hard day today.
Feeling sad or overwhelmed? WhatEVER - How much does God love me and promise to be right here with me?
Pride a bit hurt? WHATEVER - I don't have anything to be proud of but Jesus!
Worried about the economy, politics, state of the world/future/price of tea in China? Whatever - the truth is that God is in control and has a plan ... He"gots" this.
So, if I am walking around muttering "whatever" to myself in my best impression of a 16-year-old-boy-doing-an-impression-of-a-16-year-old-girl, it's okay. I am telling the negative thoughts the way it is, and building some mental disciple muscle. Eye rolling optional.