Good Thoughts – Good Memories ~ in 2020

2020 photo

What Are You Thinking On?

My mother had severe juvenile diabetes (type 1) in a time when the disease was a death sentence and insulin was a very new medical treatment. She grew up in the Ukrainian immigrant community where, at that time, there was tremendous fear of injections. My grandparents bravely decided that she should have insulin and she lived. Not only did she live, she married my father, had two children, and had a life. However, she was an exceedingly negative person all of her life. As a child, I didn’t understand her struggle, and I found her constant negativity painful. Despite my mother’s untreated chronic depression, she was a decent and ethical person who tried really hard to live her life and have a family. I understand that now, as an adult and how I think of her has changed a great deal. I now see her in a much more positive light without denying her faults.

My father was pragmatic, unemotional, bookish, and often withdrawn. But he could be very funny and for me that was some relief from the darkness of talking about every thing that was wrong or was about to go wrong.

I took after my dad in a lot of ways. I found refuge in books, and I’d make a joke out of whatever was upsetting and dysfunctional. That was when I was around other people. In private, I was more like my mom, focused excessively on the painful and the negative.

It wasn’t until my mid-forties that I first heard teaching on renewing of the mind and the importance of focusing on the lovely and the good. And by that time, I had  focused on the unlovely, the broken, and the sad so much, that I hardly had any good memories from my childhood, and even from my adult life. They’d all been overshadowed and buried by my rehashing of all the dark and negative moments.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

I married a man whose family was even more dysfunctional than mine…if that is even possible. My own immediate family and my extended family had PhDs in negativity. (See, I am still able to make a joke out of the gruesome.)

Well, one day there was great turmoil in my husband’s family. A lot of yelling in the kitchen and people running in and out of the house. So, I went into the living room and started surfing channels on the TV just to block the chaos out. It was a Sunday and I clicked onto this petite blonde lady standing behind a podium. Gloria Copeland. I thought she was preaching, but she is much more a teacher than a preacher. She was no-nonsense positive. Positive that God is a good God, is a healing God, is a loving God. She was intelligent, logical, and didn’t have big hair. That sealed it for me, and by the end of the program, I put my hands on the TV and got saved.

I am aware of true ‘Christian’ positive-thinking that first manifested itself in the 1950s, and that is good. But what I’m talking about is deeper.  It is a real and abiding belief that the power of the Word as written in the Bible is transformative and healing. It is the belief in the supernatural power of God’s living Word. I have to point out here that God’s Word in the Bible is not magical, not hokus-pokus, nor abracadabra. It is the belief that if the living Word gets deep-down within the heart and soul of the believer, it will start to heal those hidden, broken places.

Note: God’s Word in the Holy Bible has structure, context, and order. The Word of God can’t be ripped out of the Bible and thrown around as a quick affirmation for selfish purposes. Any phrase we wish to speak over our situation has to be understood in terms of what came before and after it in the chapter (and even in other chapters and in other books of the Bible). The Bible is a cohesive whole, pointing to and proclaiming Jesus as the Christ, the Anointed One, the Savior.

That said, if you want to get rid of darkness and negativity in your life…if you want to start making some good memories, a good place to start is the Philippians 4 Scripture noted above. Take it apart and on purpose (even if you have to force yourself) start to focus on what is:

  • True
  • Honorable
  • Right
  • Pure
  • Lovely
  • Of Good Repute
  • Having or Striving for Excellence
  • Worthy of Praise

 

When the ‘Strong Ones’ Come to the End of Self ~ and let Jesus take over

Wonder Woman Doll

I think often its Christians who see themselves as the ‘strong ones’ who have the biggest problem surrendering totally to Jesus, and I include myself in that group. It’s not that we don’t believe, we do. It’s not that we don’t honor Him, we do. It’s not that we don’t see Him as Savior and Lord, we do. It’s that we have a human history of taking care of everyone’s mess that gets in the way of us giving it all to Him.

Here we are saved, in some cases saved for years, and the mess around us is getting worse and worse. Family members not only are not saved, they’ve had numerous sexual partners, are having abortions, getting arrested, drinking excessively or taking drugs. Our spouse just asked for a divorce. We have aging parents with encroaching dementia and since we’ve always been the ‘strong one’, the siblings have abdicated all responsibility…and we’re now at the point where our knees are bending under the weight. Or, we support not only ourselves, but also an out-of-work sibling and now we’ve had a job loss and the fear the bank will soon foreclose.

The so-called ‘strong ones’ have been running from pillar-to-post picking up the pieces, holding it all together, but now, after years of this, are literally shaking apart. We might even be developing mental health symptoms. We think, how can that be? I’ve been saved for years. As we sink to our knees in utter defeat, I kinda think God says, “Finally, you’re handing it to Me. I couldn’t do anything with what you were holding on to.”

I think sometimes we have a secret sin (missing the mark), which involves shame…shame for things we could not control. We could not control our mother’s or sister’s or daughter’s promiscuity. We could not handle, heal, or successfully hide our father’s, brother’s, son’s alcoholism or drug abuse. We could not have prevented our own sexual abuse as a child. Yet we are dying inside from shame. Literally dying. We developed agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some of us have cleaned and recleaned our homes until they sparkle. We’ve literally been on the verge of losing our minds. But how could that be when we are saved? And not only saved, we’ve always been the ‘strong ones’.

And Jesus says, “I’ve been waiting for you to hand it all to Me. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” When we come to the end of our own strength and admit we do not in fact have the stamina or the wherewithal to fix everything, we can finally surrender to Him and begin to heal.