"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:8-9
What are the first things you usually think in the morning? The very first thoughts before getting out of bed? Are they negative thoughts or positive thoughts? Do you grumble about the time, the long day ahead, or having had a rough night of sleep? Or do you reach for that alarm clock and think "Yay! A new day!" Or think positively, a new day, new opportunities to get to know Jesus more. Or how the day may be full and busy ahead, but it's going to be wonderful. Your thoughts can set the pace for the day. They really can, and if you find yourself filling your brain first thing with negative thoughts, you may want to try another route- try thinking of something positive right off the bat instead.
Over the last few days, I saw this working first hand. We had a very busy end of the week last week with the annual production of the Nutcracker. Usually during the process, the kids get worn down and tired, and by Sunday morning we're all on edge and short with each other. I took a different path this year. Normally, I would anticipate the crankiness, and simply brace myself for the crabbiness ahead. Not this year. When I would tuck the kids in at night, I would tell them that it was a great day, and they would get a great night sleep and then tomorrow would be a wonderful day ahead. You know, I found that several times Abigail mentioned how tired she would be, and I just know it was because she remembers years past and heard Andy or I say such things. So I spoke other things to her. I simply encouraged her and told her that if we were careful to eat right and rest when we could, that she wouldn't be tired at all, just excited from a busy day.
Saturday night after the longest day, as we all got into the van to head home, it was like the dam broke. Oh, they got short with each other, and it took every effort to not join right in. But I reminded them how wonderful their day was, how they did such a good job. And then I told them that we were going home to go to bed and get a wonderful night of sleep so we wouldn't be tired tomorrow.
So when yesterday rolled around, and my alarm clock went off. I turned off the alarm and made myself think "Yay, Sunday!" And then I got myself up. I let the kids sleep as long as possible, and as I saw each one in turn, I simply said good morning, gave them a hug, and then told them they looked like they got a great night's sleep and today was going to be a great day. We went to church yesterday morning as cheery and happy people- not the people that we honestly expected to be. But our thoughts and our words changed what was a certain outcome of tired and crabby people. By the end of church last night, the kids were definitely tired and ready for bed, but with all the things we did yesterday, they really were not crabby. They were only short with each other once, and that was something that on a normal day they argued about, so it passed and things were quiet again.
When I read verses like the one above in my Bible, I am always reminded that there are no verses in the Bible whatsoever that tell me to focus on the negative. Not one. And yet we as people are almost trained to do that. We encounter a situation, and rather than focus on what's positive, we almost always lean towards focusing on the negative first. Why do we do that? Because that's what the world around us wants us to do. Because when we're focusing on the negative, we're not focusing on all that's good, and all that is God. When we focus on God, it's all good. Sometimes though we need to get ourselves into the mood to focus on the positive. Look again at that verse above. It says if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on that. Sometimes it may be difficult to find even one thing, but if we can find just one thing, just one anything to be praiseworthy, that one thing could very well change the momentum of our day.
Whatever things are lovely. I choose to think on the lovely. This is a time of year for me where that can be a little difficult. I really don't like winter. I don't like cold and snow, and sometimes winter just drags on and on. But when I choose something small and positive to dwell on instead of the mountains of cold white stuff covering my garden, it does make a difference. When I look at the icicles dangling from the shed and see how pretty they sparkle in the sunshine, it gives me something positive to focus on instead, and it can at least get me to smile.
Did you notice the very end of these verses though? There's a promise there. If we think on the positive, if we think on these wonderful things, Paul says that the God of peace will be with you. That in itself is worth trying to get your mind to dwell on the positive. When that alarm clock goes off, and you can muster yourself to think something positive, the peace of God will flood your mind and fill you with the perfect things that you need to go about your day. I love that promise, and I think I'm going to hold God to that. That right there is a great thing to think on first thing in the morning. If you can think of nothing else, think about how great it is to be filled with peace as you go about your day.
Your thoughts can make a difference. Let's think on purpose.