"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!" --Stuart Smalley (aka Comedian Al Franken)
place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so
that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening
obediently to [God], firmly embracing [God]. Oh yes, [God] is life
itself..." --Deuteronomy 30:19 from Eugene Peterson's paraphrase of the Bible called "The Message"
My beautiful nearly 6-year-old
daughter Miriam is a delightful girl. But she has her moments, as we all
do. Sometimes, when she discovers that an activity she really wants to
do is not going to happen, at least not that day, she loudly wails with
tears brimming "I'm never going to get to..." fill in the blank--go to the zoo, have an ice cream cone, play with my friend, etc. Never?! Really?!
I find this irritating until I remember what I sometimes grumble to
myself in the morning, "Grrr...I did not get enough sleep. Today is just
going to be an awful day..." Or, on a Sunday morning, with my sermon
under-prepared and my brain sleep-deprived, I think, "Oh, worship is
gonna be just awful today."
WAIT! Awful?! Really?! Does it have to be?
This is what my
social worker spouse might call “distorted thinking.” Without trying to
talk too much about something I don't really understand, cognitive
behavioral theory tells us that how we think about something shapes our
reality. At the risk of totally oversimplifying, this theory is pretty
much the same as saying that if you think it's going to be a lousy day,
it probably will be!
The solution, obviously, is intentionally thinking about the
situation differently. So for example, nearly every Sunday morning as I
ride my bike to church to participate in and lead worship, I say—out
loud!--“O God, worship this morning is going to be GREAT! O God, my
sleep-deprivation and my under-preparation are no obstacle to you.
Worship today is going to be GREAT because YOU are going to show up!”
And I can tell you that when I do this, when I specifically seek to
counter my “distorted thinking”, by the grace of God it always changes
things. God's Holy Spirit meets me where I seek to overturn my distorted
thinking, and reality is shaped in a new, life-giving direction. Not
always exactly as I would want, but virtually always for the better.
Maybe like me, you can identify times in your life when you slip
into “distorted thinking.” I hope and pray, that by God's grace, you
will choose to think about the situation differently, more hopefully,
and invite God to meet you there. In that meeting, there is LIFE as God
intends for it to be.
Blessings on you,