Does God even care how I think?
This daily writing challenge has just begun and I’m already questioning whether there’s value and purpose in it. Case in point, my friends: I am a pessimist. I’m not really commenting on whether He’s interested in the content of my thoughts as much I’m wondering whether my “cognitive defaults” are of any consequence in His eyes. In short, does whether I’m an optimist or pessimist even matter to God?
I’m going with yes. Yes, He cares about our thoughts and perspectives. (And if God cares about them, I’m pretty sure I should too.) Our thinking shapes our actions and our feelings. Our thought patterns guide the way we engage with both God and others. Romans 12 indicates that new thinking is part of becoming a new person:
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. — Romans 12:2 NLT
It’s also significant to me that He doesn’t say He’ll transform us by changing the way we feel. Nope. Transformation begins in the mind. The good news for me here is that I do have some control over what I think (less than I seem to have control over my feelings). I can be deliberate in my thinking, which is why Paul’s words in Philippians imply a choice (imperative): think on these things.
The Greek word for “think” in Philippians 4:8 (logizomai) means to calculate, to reckon inward, count up or weigh the reasons, to deliberate, to meditate.
So, at several points in each day, I plan to stop and think about whatever has my heart twisted up and try to replace it with a positive thought instead. Here’s today’s snapshot:
- Pessimist: I had technical blunders during Bible study. My Powerpoint presentation was advancing itself. I left the morning feeling that I’d been “off my game” as a result — an impediment to learning God’s Word, rather than a conduit for it.
- Optimist: God’s Word never returns void (Isaiah 55:11). The gospel has been preached for thousands of years, most of it without the aid of Powerpoint. I have prayed that the study would be a place of grace, where we don’t have to “pretty up” our faith and competencies, so perhaps I got to model that today, too. I’m grateful for His grace to me and His power that works through weakness.
How about you? Were you tempted to entertain negative thoughts today? Let’s encourage one another.
This post is part of a 31 day series entitled “Think on these things: Learning optimism.” For a full catalog of all the posts, visit the first page in the series by clicking here.
I am a pessimist.
There. I said it. It may not make me popular, but it’s true. This “glass half full” way of going through life isn’t something I chose; some of my earliest memories and childhood decisions were couched in it. It colors my every day as an adult. Not in a paralyzing fashion, mind you, but it affects me nonetheless.
pessimism - an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities or to expect the worst possible outcome
If this was my natural inclination, then did God appoint it to me? Like introversion and extroversion, is there a place for pessimism within the Christian Body? I think it’s possible and will explore that idea more fully later in the series. Yet the hope that we have as Christians — because of our salvation and the certainty of heaven — should buoy and encourage even the most despondent of pessimists.
To that end, I’m embarking on a 31 day writing series called “Think on these things: Learning optimism”. Over the course of October, I’ll post some daily thoughts on this topic, inspired partly by Philippians 4: Read more
I love starting projects.
Cleaning closets. Organizing the garage. Planting bulbs in the yard for spring color. Sinking my teeth into a Lindt dark chocolate bar… the kind with a touch of sea salt. Finishing projects is a whole different story. Somewhere in the middle, I just give up steam. The “to donate” pile lingers in the corner of the closet for weeks. The garage has a strange collection of tools that never really find their home on the peg board. And I still have boxes of unplanted bulbs. (I’ve got no problem finishing the chocolate bar, however.) Read more
I felt like a schmuck.
Today in church, my pastor called all the educators in our congregation forward so we could collectively pray over them as the new school year begins. He noted our beautiful state of Idaho spends less than 48 other states on education. (Only Utah spends less.) My heart sank and I internally lamented how much I wish that were different. I instantly began plotting ways I could personally supply the needs of the many classrooms in my school… city… state. Ideas began to swarm in my head: fundraisers, donations, gifts. We can do this!
And then I winced.
I recalled this snarky post I made on Facebook just ten days ago. Read more
I was afraid.
In May I shared with you my diagnosis of skin cancer and my fears around the location and removal of it. My surgery was July 14th and I’m now on the mend. Not surprisingly, I’ve learned a few things during the last 10+ days of recovery. Spare yourself the skin cancer surgery and just learn these nuggets vicariously through me, okay?