I’m super proud of myself any time I clean off the desk in my kitchen, which seems to grow paper piles faster than my kitchen floor collects crumbs. (The kitchen is the living, breathing hub of our lives… when it gets insane, I try to remind myself that we are just full of LIFE these days and that someday I will miss this.)
Anyway, as I was cleaning it off the other day, sorting things into “throw away” and “to file” and “needs action!” piles, I started wishing that I could do the same thing for my thoughts. My mind feels cluttered… full of half-baked ideas, worries, regrets and shoulds, “someday” dreams, memories to file away, losses and wounds, un-unpacked feelings to tiptoe around or dwell on, to-do lists, and all of the “don’t forgets” of parenting. It’s hard to keep track of all the thoughts floating through my mind – much less figure out which ones are the important ones!
But Jesus said: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have enough worries of its own.” So what if I could sort my thoughts and worries and put them away – like so many t-shirts from a suitcase at the end of a trip? It would be awesome to not have them hanging around my mind all the time. What I need is the short list of which thoughts to hang on to, so I can get rid of or put away the rest.
I’ll take a cue from Paul the Apostle, who said: “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. […] Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. […] And always be thankful.” (Colossians 3:12-15)
This sounds like a good place to start… I’ll try my hand at a little thought-sorting with this list as my guide.
…I should have been more gentle with my kids when I put them to bed. What if they utterly rebel against me in a few years?? It will be all my fault. I am ruining everything…
Ack!! Stop, brain! It’s true that I need some more kindness and gentleness towards my kids, but I also need to extend some to myself! This parenting gig is HARD. I better fold these thoughts up and put them in the donation bag.
…Do you think I offended her this afternoon? I think I saw a strange look on her face. NOW what does she think of me? She’ll never want to hang out now. She probably thinks I’m not worth her time anymore…
Hmm – perhaps I should throw those thoughts in the wash with a little humility and some mercy – maybe they will come out with less of the dramatic self-pity.
…I don’t think I’ll ever change. I will probably still be just as worried and impatient and selfish when I am 80…
Patience, patience! I’m still a work in progress, and Love is still at work on me. Relax!
…Argh!! Why do these kids leave their shoes lying everywhere? And how many shoes do they HAVE, anyway?? You would think we lived in a shoe store! Daughters!! And what’s up with this slow internet today? I have been waiting FOREVER to load this page…
Stop this madness, brain! I am thankful for my kids… and their shoes… and internet access… and that with a little thankfulness comes contentment.
…This election is driving me insane… insane… insane… I just can’t even… I don’t… I… ACK.
Peace. I need true peace to reign in my mind. Not the kind that comes from circumstances. The deep, quiet, rest-for-your-soul kind.
Oh, what a different life I would have if I always practiced checking my thoughts by the doorkeepers of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, peace, and thankfulness.
Peace of Christ, come rule in my heart – and in my cluttered mind – and even on my kitchen desk – today!