I woke up this morning in the same way I've woken up for the last four days. Consciously grateful. I deliberately took the time to thank God and mean it. I didn't want to give some passive, half-asleep thought, "Okay, still alive. Guess I'm heading to work then. *yawning* Thanks for that."
Four days ago I decided to offer my first few minutes to Him and express true gratitude. I stretched my legs and even though they're a little stiff, I admit I can walk. I opened my eyes and even though they are a little blurry, I can see. I woke up thanking Him and telling Him how grateful I am for another day. It is a genuine effort to be conscious of my thoughts and make the decision to think of God first because normally, I roll over and think about all the problems I am going to face each day. The endless to do lists, appointments, phone calls, work, house maintenance, errands and kids' programs. Every morning I rub my eyes and breathe out a big exhausted sigh before I even get out of the bed. Groaning is not the most positive way to start the day.
All of this conscientious mind control is a direct result of Joyce Meyer. I am reading and listening to her Battlefield of the Mind series and it has been incredibly beneficial to me. If you're like me and you beat yourself up or sometimes think hopeless thoughts, then I recommend reading it. My mind needs regulating. Serious. Regulating. I'm using her awareness techniques to know what I am thinking about and realizing that I can CHOOSE *what* to think about it. In her words, "You don't have to think about whatever thought drops into your brain. You can choose NOT to THINK about something if it isn't positive or uplifting."
Since I've been granting myself the first few minutes of my day to spend time with God, I've discovered that the rest of my day has been filled with conscientious thoughts too. I work hard at dispelling thoughts that remotely sound like I'm beginning to worry and it isn't easy. It's like herding cats. Chasing down one negative thought and replacing it with a positive thought is hard work and takes practice! I have to pull myself out when my mind trips and falls down into the pit of inadequacy. I concentrate in order to stop the unruly mind breeze which whips the leaves of bad thoughts into a twirl and scatter them across my brain. When I still myself, the thought leaves are also stilled and then I can choose which ones to bag, burn or jump into.
The process is working. I am three days away from forming a solid, seven day habit. I am practicing and cognizant of my thoughts and I am killing it. Joyce would give me a star if she knew me.
But here's the thing: Fever blisters never lie.
I *have* been going through the motions. I *have* been praying more consistently. I *have* been more conscious of stopping bad thoughts before they spread like Kudzu. Practice is good and it's going to take work, but my body hasn't caught up with the new routine. My body reacts to stress the same way it always has because it hasn't received the memo that my heart and brain have already been practicing. There seems to be a breakdown in middle management and the new procedure memo hasn't circulated properly. "Listen up everybody, we're giving it ALL to God. Just a heads up we're evacuating worry. Sorry guys, pack up your desk. Positive thoughts are in - negative out."
The rest of me, physiologically hasn't caught up with the good work that my mind is doing. My body still reacts to stress in one of several different ways. The choice this week happens to be a fever blister. High stress situations - especially those dealing with money - will almost certainly produce an bulbous fever blister on the top of my lip, dead center. It is and always will be *the blister that will not be covered.* It's there on display for all to see and ponder how I managed to get that hideous growth on my mouth. A few are even brave enough to mention it... "you've got a bit of jelly on your lip." Umm. Okay. That's Abreva mixed with Neosporin, but thank you for bringing to the attention of everyone standing nearby that I have a Herpes Simplex Virus.
I've been going through the motions in order to create the habit. I want to shake off worry and negative thoughts. I want prayer and expectancy to become second nature to me. I want the Spirit to fill me up so much that it would feel completely unnatural to say bad things about myself or live my life without hope even in tough situations. This new habit is developing and it feels great and I am only on day four. But getting the fever blister reminds me that I may be saying and praying, but I might not be feeling and believing. What it shows me is that practice makes you better as long as you are truly believing what your actions are suggesting. Am I really letting go? Can I honestly say, I'm not worrying? Am I faking it until I'm making it?
The last four days have been a constant battle to think good thoughts. The next years of my life will be spent fighting the same daily battle. It never stops but I have hope that it does gets easier. Instead of defeating thoughts and hopeless feelings I tell myself, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) and "And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you, my strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9). Sometimes that's the best you can do, but every day is a chance to try it again.
Seeds to Share:
Proverbs 14:30 - A heart at peace gives life to the body.