We spent the long weekend in our RV. Despite summer-like temperatures and a peaceful, beautiful setting, our enjoyment was hampered by mosquitoes.
Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me but I don’t remember these annoying insects being as troublesome in previous years.
Let me paint you a picture. I sat at a picnic table under a bright blue sky; pen in hand ready to do some writing. Slightly behind me, a bug zapper was plugged in. A citronella candle burned within an arm’s length. And yet, mosquitoes continued to land on me.
I would swat them away and return to my writing, determined not to let these pests cause me to retreat indoors. Moments later, they would be back again. Sometimes I wasn’t aware of one landing until it had already done its damage. These tiny insects were destroying my peace of mind. The only solution was to go back inside and apply the insect repellent I should have used before coming outside.
I wonder if these pesky, blood-sucking insects are like the negative thoughts that swarm in my mind. I swat just as ineffectively at them. These thoughts keep coming back, sucking away my confidence. Soon they have me convinced I shouldn’t be out among all you ‘perfect’ people and I retreat into myself. My time becomes spent looking out longingly, wishing I could join in with everyone else.
Instead of living like this, there is a powerful repellent I can use. Repeating affirmations such as, I am strong, I am confident, I am valuable, I am worthy, I am loved have proven to be effective in fighting off negative thoughts. The more often I say these words with conviction, the more powerful they become.
When I believe the positive words, I am free to step out into a world of possibilities.
The water aerobics class was nearing completion. The exercise we were doing involved jumping. As one of the participants prepared to slip out of the class early, the teacher good-naturedly joked to her that she wasn’t jumping. My friend smiled and said that she was jumping in her mind!
I laughed and said that my mind jumped around a lot, too! This is especially true when I have many things to accomplish. My thoughts don’t seem to hold still on one particular thing for any length of time. In fact, sometimes they change so rapidly that I don’t know what I’m thinking until I hear the words come out of my mouth!
When this happens, life becomes frustrating not only for myself, but for those close to me. I need to slow down, take a deep breath and refocus. The peace and serenity I long for can be found if I know where to look for it.
Fortunately I realize that this peace of mind is found when my focus is on Jesus. The distractions that keep my mind jumping are no longer noticed when my eyes are on him.
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)
A favourite song of mine has the words, “There is a candle in every soul; some brightly burning, some dark and cold.” It goes on to tell us to take our candles and go light the world.
A recent experience illustrated this in a simple but powerful way.
I arrived for a scheduled a book reading at a senior’s residence to find only two people in attendance. The low number was unusual but the reason behind it soon became clear.
After I read a couple of short stories, one woman tentatively told me that she was a writer. She’d taken courses and written short stories but didn’t have the confidence to share them. The other person drifted out of the room and I had the privilege of giving my full attention to the one remaining.
She told me about the depression she suffered and that some days she couldn’t bring herself to get out of bed. Medical issues were part of this, but deeper were the feelings that she was not making a meaningful contribution to life.
I gave her the gifts of listening and encouragement. By the time I left she was excited about returning to the stories she’d started several years ago and promised to share some with me on my next visit. I gave her a hug and she told me it felt like she had a new friend.
My time had the effect of using my candle to ignite hers. Now she is able to shine. It wasn’t a momentous event and didn’t take much time. My candle is burning brighter as a result. Together our light will brighten the world.
How will you take your candle and go light the world? I’d love to hear your stories.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)
I was alone at our trailer and decided to start the day with a nice, hot shower. The only other time I had used this shower was last season, but how difficult could it be to operate?
When I turned on the tap I got a blast of water through the open shower door! Quickly I adjusted the shower head, climbed in and closed the door.
My next challenge was adjusting the water temperature. This was not an easy task as the water was either hot or cold. How could I find a happy medium?
The most difficult part was still to come. I couldn’t seem to get the water turned off! I know it sounds like a simple thing, but that was not the case! After much trial and error I discovered that the taps did not move in the same direction. One turned left to go off and the other turned right.
These problems could have all been avoided if I’d only paid attention to the position of the shower head and the taps before I started.
At the risk of sound like a slow learner, lack of attention has been the cause of many difficulties in my life. I tend to race forward into a situation without taking time to gather the necessary information. That being said, I could spend all of my time gathering information and never actually DO anything.
The best way that I’ve found to make important decisions is to take them to the one who sees everything. Jesus is able to take anything and use it for my good. I can save both of us a lot of unnecessary detours by paying attention.
There are three simple steps I need to do. The first is to pray for guidance. Next I need to take the time to watch and listen for the response. Thirdly, I need to step out in faith. Jesus can then use me to make a difference in the world.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18 NIV
In my last attitude, negative thoughts, God, trustpost I told you about not wanting to miss the boat due to flight delays en-route a cruise vacation. My daughter and I managed to board the ship on time even though our delays put us eight hours behind schedule.
When we finally reached our destination we were dismayed to find our luggage had not arrived with us. After checking our claim tickets, we were told that our luggage was on the next flight and would be there in two hours. We were extremely relieved when we finally had suitcases in hand.
This experience caused me to re-evaluate what I pack in my hand luggage. Most of the bag was filled with snacks, although I also had a book or two, some paperwork and my sunglasses. What it lacked was a change of clothing and my swimsuit. If I had been forced to leave on the cruise without my luggage, how would I have coped?
Relating this to my life, I realize how often I pack around thoughts I don’t need at the expense of those that would be beneficial. Just like an overabundance of snacks for the flight, my attitude can be something that provides no provision for the future.
By putting my faith and trust in God, my negative thoughts will diminish. I will have the confidence to handle whatever comes my way. When he is with me, I have no concern about coping with the days to come.
The Lord will be your confidence. He will keep your foot from getting caught. (Proverbs 3:26 GWT)
Recently I was engaged in an activity I enjoyed. Everything was going along smoothly until someone voiced a few complaints. These were things that I hadn’t noticed previously and that had never interfered with my enjoyment of the activity. Before long I felt my positive attitude slowly being eroded with these negative thoughts.
Things that had never been an issue for me now seemed to be all that I noticed. Instead of focusing on my positive experience I started seeing what could be a negative for others. My peace and enjoyment of the activity slipped into the background.
Looking back on this, I realized anew the effect words have to influence others. It only took a few to change my outlook. If a few words could change my positive thoughts to negative, the reverse must also be true.
That means I need to be very conscious of my words. If I speak in the heat of anger I will regret it later. Instead I need to speak words that will encourage and build others up. On my own, this can prove a difficult task at times. When I stop and pray about my attitude, the words that I speak will be ones that will encourage and build others up. This will ensure that the only way I change someone’s day is to make it more positive.
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4:29 NLT)
While on vacation, the sign on a door near the elevator caught my attention. There were only two words on it – Trash Room. I’m sure that most people wouldn’t give this a second thought. My thoughts, however, seem to go in different directions from most!
I immediately thought of all the trash that I collect in my mind. There are things that I hold onto that would be much better thrown out with the trash. Negative thoughts, self doubts and hurt feelings don’t serve a useful purpose in my life. Regrets from the past are not helping me to move forward. Perhaps a trash room where I could dispose of them would be a good idea.
Upon thinking about this, I realized that I don’t need a whole room dedicated to trash removal. What I have is so much better. I can take my sorrows, regrets and sins and lay them at the feet of Jesus. When I do, he promises to remove them as far as the east is from the west. Not only are they taken away, they are also forgiven and then forgotten so I need never deal with them again.
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 NIV