One thing you must know… I am not a crier!
It takes a lot for my eyes to even water. But something about that 15×7 inch oval window gets the floodgates open more times than not.
Of course, this has a lot to do with the fact that goodbyes are hard. But this time there’s another layer. On this particular flight, my tears are the result of my inability to let go of a thought that’s torpedoing through each lobe of my brain. The snide thought that’s telling me:
“You shouldn’t have done that.”
I don’t know about you, but I can obsess over an idea. So much so, that it eats away at every essence of my being.
I will walk around in a trance, missing out on everything around me, because my mind is fixated on this one thing. And then I’ll look at the time and realize, an hour has passed and I’ve had zero productive thinking.
Today, my obsessive thoughts revolve around my trip to Florida.
It was a fantastic vacation! The baby did get sick, but I still managed to squeeze in a good amount of quality time with more people than I typically do. We had tons of pool time; we were spoiled like kings; and I even taught a class while I was there, so I am able write the whole trip off.
Even more importantly, I had a week of spiritual rest and restoration. Plus, I gained a sense of reassurance that we are not supposed to live in Florida at this time.
Ahhh! Amazing right?!
So, what seems to be the problem? One would surely think that a person could look at such a successful vacation with joy and gratitude, and move on from that.
…one would think.
You see, the reason I chose this time frame to venture back to Florida was so I could meet my best friend Jenny’s new baby.
I flew in on her due date. I stayed 11 days. And her sweet baby boy, Rowan was born!
— less than 24 hours before my scheduled departure.
Not only that, but he was sent to the NICU. (He is okay, just a little breathing issue that needed monitoring.) But this meant I would be unable to squeeze in a quick visit on the way out of town.
Now, I’m the kind of girl who lives by the idea, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!”
My mother-in-law says I treat flight itineraries as mere suggestions. This is because, back in the day, every time I flew in to visit her son, she always expected to see me again after I left to catch my flight home; and she was usually right.
So naturally, in my current predicament, I looked up every flight changing option I could find. And at the end of it all, I found one that could work! …with a lot of finagling.
This option would include a red-eye flight and a 9 hour layover —with a newborn.
But that stuff typically doesn’t hold me back. Plus, the layover would be in Denver, so I could see my dad!
When I get stuck on an idea, (especially one that could have different outcomes depending on a decision that is in my hands) I deliberate, debate, decide, change my decision, and deliberate some more.
Needless to say, decision making is a very long process for me. It takes careful consideration. And, Lord help me, if I make the wrong decision, I will destroy myself over it!
In this situation, by the time I figured out my red-eye option, I was very tired. It was 1AM and I had to be up at 5. So, instead of debating through all of my thoughts on the situation, I fell asleep, awoke in a stupor of exhaustion, loaded the car for my actual scheduled flight, then proceeded to cry harder and harder with each step closer to the plane.
To make matters worse, I’m an external processor. So the fact that it is currently 4:30 in the morning where my logical sounding board (aka loving husband) is fast asleep, makes it impossible for me to rationalize my thinking.
As a result, I boarded this plane telling myself:
“MISTAKE! MISTAKE! MISTAKE!
You are a terrible friend.
You could have spent a whole two more days making up for the time when Arrow was sick.
You could have seen your dad.
You have failed the title of “best friend.”
Now this baby won’t know you.
So much for a special bond.
Great job. Now you’re going to go back to Cali and wish you lived in Florida again. You know if you stayed longer, you’d be fine.
You should have just booked a later flight to begin with like she asked you to months ago!!
Did I mention you are a bad friend?”
There is no logic. There is no positivity. There is just anxiety and self deprecation.
What is it about some ideas where, once they pop in your head, they bounce all over every square inch of your brain, with as much force as possible, until you both (you and the idea) beat the crap out of each other?
My brain is equally the strongest and weakest organ in my body. It has the power to destroy me. And if I let it, it can remain too weak to pull me out of the slump it put me in.
They say, “the mind is a terrible thing to waste.” When I hear that phrase, it typically draws up images along the lines of Mr. Feeny encouraging Cory to reach his full educational potential. But I am realizing now that it goes deeper than that.
It is a terrible thing to waste your mind on thoughts that are false, wretched, hateful, dark, repulsive, and ugly.
If we let our thoughts rest in such places, the result is emotional, spiritual, and often times physical despair.
On the contrary, there was a still small whisper that gave me a glimpse of hope today. It was the fact that, as I went to bed, and woke up four hours later, the verse of the day from my bible app was this:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
– Philippians 4:8
Thank you Jesus, for that soft, sweet reminder.
God knows the juxtaposition of strength and weakness that our minds are capable of. So, He reminds us to slow down and focus on excellent and praiseworthy things. He encourages us to replace:
- the lies with the truth
- the wretched with the noble
- the hateful with the right
- the dark with the pure
- the repulsive with the lovely
- the ugly with the admirable.
If I focus on these things, I see:
I am being a responsible mother.
I am being a good wife by bringing my baby home to a daddy that misses him unbelievably.
Not only does Jenny understand that life happens, but currently, she is too busy to even contemplate if my actions equate to being a bad friend —a proposition she would readily disagree to upon hearing anyway.
I still had a wonderful trip.
Sometimes things don’t work the way I planned, and that’s okay.
God is a better planner.
Rowan won’t remember.
It is a battle to really absorb the excellent and praiseworthy; especially in the midst of the opposite emotions coursing through our veins.
And I will admit, today the negative thoughts beat stronger in my head. They scream as my external processing self is forced to sit in a tooshy numbing, straight seated, white noise, tubed prison, as I soar away from my mistakes.
Okay, perhaps I have a flare for the dramatic. But for me, moments of silence are the hardest to quiet.
So it takes work.
If you find your mind taking control of a dangerous roller coaster of negative thoughts, remind yourself of that which is true; noble; right; pure; lovely; and admirable. Cling to what is excellent and praiseworthy. Call on scripture. And if the negative thoughts pop back up, repeat the same lovely things again.
Even if you can only find one lovely thing, dwell on that.
And if you are still having trouble, here’s some encouragement that might help:
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him
– Pslam 34:8
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
– 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
– 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Maybe your obsession is not so much an idea, but something tangible. Perhaps it’s:
- Eating out
- Talking badly about others
- Talking badly about yourself
- Playing video games
- Checking Facebook
- Watching television that gives you a false hope of reality
Tell me this… How many times a day do you check your phone? Why?
It’s easy to not even realize when something slips from being an occasional pastime, to an obsession. It’s also easy to make a thousand excuses as to why that thing doesn’t have control over us; or why it’s okay that it does for this moment.
Christ longs for our minds to obsess on one thing only… Him. If we do, He is able to bless all of our other thoughts, ideas, and pastimes.
Make way in your mind to obsess on Him alone. And when all of the other ideas or lifestyles creep in to distract you, take a moment to let go; then draw back to He who is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.
Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
– Colossians 3:1-3
Even in the midst of trial, our Creator yearns to give us peace. If you are in trial, do not fear. When your thoughts obsess on anything less, cling to His scripture; His truth; Him.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
– Philippians 4:4-9