So, I’ve been trying to ‘de-clutter’ the house in my spare time. I could expound on that statement for days regarding the clutter, the trying, or the spare time. But I’ll spare you all that conversation. What I do want to share is one of my little findings. It was a letter written by one of my sons and it made me laugh and think and cry and all of that wrapped up into one. But more than anything else, it just helped to remind me of the incredible value of a little pause, a little think time, a bit of reflection.
I’ll set the stage for you. One of my children who will remain unnamed had stitches 5 times before he was 5. 5 times. There was some definite caution (FEAR) wrapped up in me in terms of being able to keep my children safe (ALIVE) when they were little. I mean with 6 kids so close in age (oldest to youngest was 8 year span), well, I was concerned anyway. But when you throw a fast moving, funny, and active middle child in the mix…well, the fear gets kicked up a notch. On this particular day, the ‘kid’ was 12. He was jumping on a trampoline and being totally wild. And little brothers much younger were also on the trampoline. He was told to give the little ones a turn (without having a kid twice their size wildly jumping). That’s how I remember it. His take was a little different…
Well, let me back track a little. I’ll let him explain his take in his own words, but first, wanted to share that in the middle of the big conflict over the jumping wildly on the trampoline, he was strongly encouraged to come inside and take a little time out. (little or big depending on the response…) And he was told to write how he feels. He did just that. (I have laughed so hard over this…I don’t remember if I did then, however….)
Hmmm.. Okay. So he wrote how he feels. But then, he really let it out…
…here you go…next page…
Well, long story short, the tone changes a bit from the beginning of the letter to the end. Amazing what a little reflection, a little time, and a little dealing with the situation will do to turn a moment of “I HATE YOU” passion, reaction to an “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, I was just saying what I felt.” This precious son of mine was in the midst of a bit of (mandatory) processing that was strongly encouraged by his mom via the highly effective mode of time out. Because not many good things come out of a situation when we merely feed what we feel over without filtering it through the truth that we know. And sometimes, that takes a total removal from the situation that is feeding the feelings. and most times, it takes time. Because what I feel…what I feel can change sometimes with the wind. But what I think? What I think, process, and ponder sometimes takes time and perspective but will have an incredibly huge impact on where the next steps will lead. Sometimes feelings put a blindfold on perspective for sure. Think time takes the blind fold off.
I love the verse that says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think on these things. Whatever you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, put these things into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.…” Philippians 4:8 I haven’t always liked it however. Years ago, I just thought it was a bit unreasonable. I mean, life is hard. There are a myriad of negative, negative, difficult things that need to be dealt with. Always. Life is full of daily issues that arise that seem anything but positive. We sure don’t need reminders to see them.
And maybe, just maybe, that’s the thing. We don’t need reminders to see the difficult. Like my son who was dealing with the grave injustice of having to not jump like a wild man when bouncing little brothers on the trampoline, we have a difficult time seeing things clearly while we’re in the middle of our battle. This son of mine was not going to get perspective while jump, jump, jumping in the midst of a mom who was “redirecting” and little brothers who were flying high in the sky with each jump. No, tough to get perspective there. We need to step back, pause, and determine in our minds to think. Think on what? Think on the positive the good, the silver linings and the “where-do-I-go-from-here”s….so that when we rise and walk, and get back on that trampoline, well, maybe our perspective will be a bit more positive.
(And social media. Wow. It sure doesn’t help with the lack of think time. We live in a world of social media that jumps, clicks, and sends in the drop of a hat. It’s easy to be so reactionary and quick to respond without filtering anything through our minds when interactions are just a click away. And that leads to a slippery slope of relational struggles or having to back track on what was said to “everybody” in the middle of the moment. So many battles today are being fought because of a lack of think time. How we feel doesn’t have a chance to be filtered through truth because it’s put out there in cyberspace and people react to the “how I feel” and expound on it and pretty soon the page of “how I feel” turns into a banner that is hard to take down. )
When my kids were little, I used to talk about the need for a Truth bath…..a bathing the mind in the Truth of God’s Word that gets rid of the dirt and filth and things that so weigh us down. Lots of things can weigh us down. Even good things. Sometimes we need redirections. We need a pause. Not just every once in a while…but daily, sometimes hourly depending on the need. A truth bath helps with that ‘de-cluttering’ of mind and heart, and helps us rise more ready to take the next step and face what we need to face with strength and courage and dignity.)
I’m not sure that when my son rose from writing this letter that he rose “with dignity” and loved well and all that. (I do remember that we had to make a trip to the hospital, for he did, indeed have a broken nose…hmmm…). But I absolutely love the way this ‘kid’ of mine was teaching me way back then. He could’ve sat there and stayed on page 2 of his writing…the reactive, intensely emotional, “I HATE YOU!” page. But he didn’t. He processed. He BREATHED. He thought. He dealt. We need to deal to heal. (That’s a mantra of sorts for me these days.) And then, as we do, the healing comes, the perspective changes, and we can see with more clarity our worlds and our part in them.
So, even though ‘de-cluttering’ my home is a good goal, a greater, incredibly more impactful and necessary goal is to make sure that I am daily, hourly, continually ‘de-cluttering’ my mind. (Funny how a ‘de-cluttered’ mind can also help lead to an undivided heart.) I am so thankful for the truths of God word that wash away the nonsense and all of the extra things that weigh me down. God calls us to a life unhindered, a life of freedom, a life lived by grace. He lived that example for us. He spent time with God. He knew His purpose. He stood strong amidst the struggles and did not waver, but courageously and lovingly did what He was called to do. And that made all the difference for us. So, am thinking that following His lead, asking for His help, and bathing our minds (and hearts) with the Truths of His Word can allow us to rise up renewed.
We might have to start out on the “How I Feel” page, but hopefully, we can allow ourselves to process and renew our minds so that we can live lives without regret. Yes, we’ll have our scars (and broken noses and things…), but as we lay those down and offer them back to the God who knows and loves us well, well, He can use even them. Keep pressing on, friends. And be sure to pause and take a little think time when ya need it. I’ll do the same. And as the verse below says, as we look to Jesus, we won’t grow weary and lose heart. Joy and a renewed heart can come in even the most difficult of places…ask me and my son…a little think time can make a world of difference.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
“Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.”
Psalm 1: 1-3
P.S. To the moms out there who think that your words and lessons and encouragement aren’t sinking in? Just a little reminder that they probably are so much more than you might think. The processing has to go on on the inside of our children before it comes out on the outside. At least that’s the way I’d prefer. Inner heart right to impact outward behavior rather than just the outward behavior right and hardened hearts. Yeah, the messy outside leading to healed inside.
P.P.S. Oh, another word to all the moms out there who are in the midst of the intensity of the moment…I found that mandatory time outs helped me a bit on occasion as well. Even if it’s hiding in the laundry room or the garage for a few minutes could grant a bit of much needed perspective.