Whether someone is being threatened by a tsunami wave on the deck of a ship, facing a blizzard in a tiny mountain cottage, or waiting in a doctor’s office to hear the results of a big test, the preparation message is the same:
A steeling of the spine, a gritting of teeth, and a bout of temporary gospel amnesia usually follow.
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.
We all talk to ourselves—it’s the brain’s natural way of processing information, and we’d go crazy if the internal chatter permanently stopped. (And yes, it’s biblical; many psalms read like journal entries of David’s self-talk.) But do you ever get stuck in your own head? When those mental ruts are deep, they can shove you back onto the well-worn path of negativity, fatalism, anger, depression, or anxiety, and it can feel close to impossible to speak sensibly to yourself.
(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on January 15, 2020. You can find it here.)
“Who do we become when we stop allowing all the voices in our head to crowd out the one voice we must hear to come to life?”
I find deep beauty in the hush that falls over my heart and home after the holiday chaos has ebbed. Décor is stowed until next year, surfaces are reordered, and a gentle blanket of silence fills the previously riotous internal and external spaces of life.
“My life is so dry right now. I just feel like I’m wandering around in the desert.”
These words could have been uttered by Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. Joseph. Moses. The nation of Israel. Elijah. Nehemiah. John the Baptist. Jesus. Paul. And maybe you.
Friend, the path into (and out of) the desert is well-traveled—God seems to find it one of His most effective settings for transformation. Whether your dry season has lasted 40 days like Jesus or 40 years like the Israelites, the desert is meant to help you encounter God in a very real way.
Qui transtulit sustinet. (He who transplanted still sustains.)
-Connecticut State Motto
Are you ready for an exercise in imagination? Picture a particular flower. (Mine’s a peach ranunculus.) Come on, it’ll be fun. Mentally plant your flower on a plain, grassy hill. Now picture a copy of that flower, but place it in the middle of a verdant garden, wild colors spilling everywhere around it.
Against which background does your flower make a bigger visual impact?
A new decade has dawned. Can’t you smell all of that fresh possibility? The future is ripe and our hearts are ready. Let’s shake off the shadows of the past, take a deep breath, and jump. 2020, here we come!
You might be assuming from the title that today’s post is about how to avoid negative mental patterns. While there is a ton of biblical material to back up why such an endeavor would be important, that’s not the direction we’ll be taking. Call it intentional misdirection. (Abracadabra!)
The danger of thinking about toxic people—or, more specifically, of thinking of people as toxic—is actually where we’re headed, and it’s quite a different conversation.