YOUR THOUGHTS MATTER
“…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.” Phillipians 4:8
This verse in the Bible is often ringing loudly in my mind, about my own thoughts and those of our kids. And then it quickly transitions from that verse into Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” When I pair these two verses together, with emphasis on our thoughts and our words, it makes for quite the impact on how we are to not only be ourselves, but how to raise our children.
I have heard our kids from upstairs or outside in the yard speak things that stop a momma in her overly-committed track. I will absolutely stop the chopping, the laundry, the writing, the phone call to nip and interrupt talk that doesn’t line up with these verses. I have been asked questions from our kids if certain words are “bad words.” I have watched my oldest daughter stand before me with tears rolling down her cheeks as she pulled me aside to talk to me about a word she heard a classmate say weeks before. WEEKS. She thought about that “bad” word for weeks. She felt the tug at her heart, her conscience was working, and the Holy Spirit was working in her heart to be free from it and to start thinking about the pure things instead.
I have walked up on a conversation between my 5 year old girl and 3 year old boy and another girl in the neighborhood (who cant be older than 7), talking about “the neighbor boys think I’m sexy….” ENTER: jaw drop. Maybe I’m a prude, but it was appalling to hear that word, that topic being spoken, let alone thought about at such an age. And yes, I spoke into it, challenging the neighbor girl as well as our own kids to speak and think and play about things that are fun and exciting, and interesting, and pure and lovely.
I am under no disillusionment that I can keep our kids in a bubble as to not face conversations such as those above, but I also think what it says 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for ‘bad company corrupts good character,’’ is part of being a diligent and responsible gatekeeper.
The way we think, the way we speak, and what we say, matters. These verses challenge us to sit in what is true, not to believe what we make up about it. Not everything we think is actually true. So therein lies one of the challenges in it: to get clear about what is true. When I am bombarded with the anxiety of my son’s spots on his head and the fear of the worst-case scenario being melanoma, I have to stop. I have to stop and think, is what I am thinking true, is it lovely, is it right? The answer is usually no when those fears come up. What is true is before my eyes. I sit here and I see him, looking up at me with his crystal eyes and his strawberry blonde ringlets, healthy. What is lovely is that he is here, right now. He is right here. He is smart and funny and gentle and kind. My thoughts have to remain there on whatever is true.
When I am discouraged at the end of a long day because I didn’t accomplish anything or my kids were inundating me with disobedience, or I am feeling alone, I have to go to these verses. I spent time with the Lord, I wrote, I took care of the kids (and kept them alive), I spoke life, and ate good food, I exercised and I disciplined, and my kids are sound asleep. These are praiseworthy, these are excellent. The drudgery, the mundane, the inadequacies, the loneliness, the striving; those are nothing but the enemy and his schemes to steal your life out from under you.
True, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy; those are what should guide my thoughts, OUR thoughts.
Here is a list of things in my own life that I find myself needing to direct back to these verses:
-What I think about myself and who God made me to be
-When I get stuck in my thoughts or speak down about myself
-What I think of another and what I speak of the other
-When fear creeps in
And here is a list of things in my own “mom life” when I need to direct our kids back to these verses:
-What our kids speak about during play
-What they dream about, when they wake up afraid
-When they tattle
-When gossip is brewing
-When they lose
-When they feel discouraged
-When someone else is praised and not them
These are verses I want to run to. I think we all need to run to them. It may feel contrived or forced. But the verse doesn’t say “Do these things (unless it feels weird, or fake).” No. It just says do it.
Sit with a pen and paper, write down a list of your top five things that spiral your thoughts (being as specific as possible) Ex: My son has unusual spots on his head and he might have melanoma.
It could be about yourself, your kids, your husband or wife, your job, your finances, anything. Just write it down and spend some time identifying what is true about each thing you’ve written. The more you recognize your thoughts and spend time dwelling on what is true and lovely about each one, the more equipped you will be in the future when those thoughts arise again. Some may need to be identified as unworthy and need to be removed and others just altered and edited down to what is actually true and lovely. The more specific you are, the better, the more you lean in to the Lord for his grace, the better. He will meet you, He will cover you and sustain you. You just need to show up.