Unhelpful Thoughts – The Wheels on the Bus go round and round

The Wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round

The other day I was driving by myself to a hair appointment.  As I pulled in, I realized that in those precious 15 minutes I had to relish by myself in the car, I had been listening to kiddie music THE WHOLE TIME.  Not that I don’t like kiddie music.  I love to hear my children’s voices from the back of the car, singing along to sweet ditties all around town.  But would I choose it for my listening pleasure?  Uh…no.  That would be a big, no! ☺  

Sometimes, in the same way, without thinking, I put my thoughts on automatic and just go on, not even considering whether what I am listening to is what I want to listen to or not. This is especially true of hurts.  When someone has said or done something to us that is hurtful, it is so tempting to let our minds mull it over again and again, playing and re-playing what happened. 

Does this sound familiar?  A glimpse into just such a struggle..

It had been a big day and I was caught off guard with a strange interaction with someone.  Her comment was – ever so subtly – sort of a jab at the way I handled something.  Did I let it go with grace and love?  I tried to at first, I really did!  Then I found thoughts about the interaction popping back into my mind and the wheels start spinning (‘round and ‘round!)…That was kind of mean…What did she mean by that?…. Then some gracious thoughts:  She has a lot going on…I’m sure she  didn’t mean it that way…Then some more yuck:…But what she said was kind of pointed…she kind of looked down in a weird way.

On and on the wheels of my mind go, spinning and mulling over what happened.  The question is:  Is this helpful at all? Does this thinking honor God – or that person – in any way?  So many times we don’t stop and consider how destructive it is to replay our hurts. So many times we don’t stop to think:  This really isn’t what I want to listen to at all!    

So how do we put the brakes on the runaway bus of our thought life?  I have two suggestions that I have found to be especially helpful. The first thing is to remember how incredibly gracious God is, and the countless ways He has extended mercy to me (Ephesians 2:4-7). Sometimes when I consider the countless quirks and flaws in my character that could earn me a lightning strike at any moment, I just stop and thank God for loving me in spite of me!  Thankfully, he doesn’t wait for me to be the completely lovely woman I would like to be; in Christ he accepts me NOW, unconditionally, flaws and all.

The second thing I do is to try very hard to get behind the eyes of the person who has offended me. God hasn’t given me the ability to have the perfect perspective he has, to fully see the motivations of anyone’s heart (1 Corinthians 4:5).   But I can try to see them with the compassionate eyes that God has for me.  

Consider the long story that has made that person who they are, and how it affects how they deal with life and people.  Consider how much you don’t know about the hurts they have faced in the past, and the battles they may be fighting that have nothing to do with you.  Consider how much they would like to feel even the lightest touch of undeserved grace from you (Ephesians 4:32).

These two thoughts keep me from riding forever on that bus of unhelpful and destructive thinking. And what a boring and painful ride anyway!  So let’s strive to think rightly about our own sinfulness and how much God extends us mercy.  Let’s strive to think rightly about how everyone you come in contact with needs to be handled gently and with love (Ephesians 4:2, Philippians 2:3).

It’s good to know that when we think rightly, there is a place where we can live and walk freely.  It’s a place called “Forgiveness and Grace.”  So let’s grab hands and get off this crazy bus together.  I think that’s our stop ahead!

Then he (Jesus) turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

-Luke 7:44-46

Thoughts to ponder…

  1. Have I found myself mulling over a hurt this week?  What will I do next time when I am tempted to hold onto a grudge?

  2. Have I considered lately God’s gracious forgiveness?  Purpose every day to remember (and see!) your own flaws and areas of sin and how much you (and I !) need mercy!

 

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