Piece of Mind or Peace of Mind?

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. –Romans 12:2 NIV

It had been a long week. I was learning a new job at work, driving all over western Pennsylvania shopping for a car for my daughter—and suffering sticker shock in the process—hanging out laundry after dark, and trying to keep my cool.

The flat tire fifty miles from home didn’t help much, but I was proud of the way I handled myself after Mr. Road Rage tailgated me for several miles, then gave me a not-too-friendly wave as he roared past. Could it have been that I was just too tired to respond? Or was it that I was still thinking about the man who saw me and my daughter struggling with the jack and stopped on his way home from work and changed the tire for us?

Although this incident happened many years ago, I never forgot it, nor the life lesson it hammered home: I really am what I think (Proverbs 23:7). My thoughts have a powerful effect on what I do and say, on my attitude about anything. Dwelling on the obstacles I face, the mistakes I make, and the unkind things people do only makes me frustrated, stressed, and angry. But thinking about the good things that happen, however small, helps me to get through the tough times and become a better person.

Sins of the mind are subtle and sneaky because of their very privacy. No one knows what I’m thinking unless I reveal it. So I can think all the thoughts I want, no matter how bad they are, right? Wrong!

Sins of the mind are like a slow-growing tumor that masks its presence behind easily explained symptoms—until it becomes so big and exerts such devastating effects it can no longer be ignored. It must be dealt with, and swiftly. If you wait too long, the damage can be irreversible.

What are the sins of the mind? Harboring unhealthy thoughts, whether they be about the ways people have hurt us and the revenge we could seek, fantasies that have no substance in real life but give us momentary pleasure, addictions, a “poor-me” mentality that dwells on how everything seems to go wrong for me and right for someone else, another person’s faults … the list goes on—you fill in the blanks.

There’s no such thing as the thought police who bang on the door of my mind and arrest my unhealthy thoughts. I am the only one who controls what I think. It is I who must capture every thought and rein it in (2 Corinthians 10:5). That’s why sins of the mind are so dangerous. It’s like the fox guarding the henhouse. I need help!

When I want to rinse out a glass of water into which one of those pesky ladybug-like insects falls, I often hold it under running water, letting the clean water displace the contaminated water. This principle of displacement works for cleaning out unhealthy thoughts from the mind, too. Replacing the bad thoughts that contaminate my spirit, behavior, relationships, and reputation with good thoughts doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process.

Getting rid of the bad thoughts by filling my mind with the Word of God is like placing that dirty water glass under a wellspring of clean, fresh, renewing water (Hebrews 4:12). “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,” Paul wrote. “And the peace of God will be with you (Philippians 4:8).”

I have a choice—piece of mind or peace of mind. Piece of mind leads to turmoil. Peace of mind leads to harmony and serenity. Funny how it all comes down to one letter—the letter “I.”

Examine me, God, and know my mind; test me, and discover my thoughts. Find out if there is any deceit in me, and guide me in the eternal way. Amen. (Psalm 139:23–24 TEV)

READ AND REFLECT: Look up Philippians 4:8 in several Bible translations and meditate on the variety of words used.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

One Good Thing

 

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. –Proverbs 4:23 (GNT)

I’d just graduated from college and had gotten my first job teaching junior high English in Punxsutawney. Mom had wanted me to get a job in the Mon Valley and live at home.

“Think of all the money you’ll save,” she said.

Sure, I wouldn’t have to pay rent or cook (I didn’t know how anyway), but it would mean losing the independence I craved.

I did consider it, though. We were both still reeling from my father’s death the previous November. But Mom and I were too much alike, and when we were together, the sparks flew.

So, knowing not a soul, I pored through the “For Rent” ads in the local paper. Although I grew up in a town, my dream was to live in the country. I found a second story furnished apartment in a village about a mile out of town. Not as country as I wanted, but for now it would do.

My fiancé helped me move in – then drove out of my life, shattering my heart and unleashing a flood of grief I’d held in since Dad died.

At night the pain was the most intense. I awoke in the morning emotionally raw. But I didn’t have time to withdraw from life and give full vent to my sorrow. As a first-year teacher, I was learning the school’s curriculum, planning lessons, and dealing with teenagers. I was barely out of my teens myself. I turned 21 that November, a year after Dad died.

I also had my own place and all the responsibilities that went with that. Which included driving three miles every day to my landlady’s for water.

Who in their right mind, you ask, would rent a second story apartment with no water? A 20-year-old, fresh-out-of-college girl desperate to begin her life, that’s who. Who believed her landlady’s promises that she’d have water “tomorrow.”

After a month of lugging the day’s water up the outside stairs, I found another apartment. In town. Furnished. With water.

When I informed my landlady, she dangled what she thought would be a temptation: “What if I rented the apartment across from you to a nice, single state trooper?”

No dice. Through all the heartache, upheaval, and broken promises, I’d done some growing up and had learned a few lessons.

The most important was the attitude of my mind: that what I focused on – what I chose to think about – determined my attitude and consequently my life.

I could choose to wallow in grief, bewail broken promises, lament lugging water, and feel sorry for myself. After all I was going through, I certainly earned the right.

Or I could choose to find one good thing in each day and dwell on that. Just one good thing . . .

I chose the latter. And it turned my life around. By Christmas, I had a comfortable apartment, contact lenses, a new piano and guitar. At the end of January that first year of teaching, I met the true love of my life. Together we built our dream house in the country.

Another, and probably the most important, thing I chose was to go back to church. Eventually that led me to a deeper, higher, more meaningful relationship with my Creator.

It was only years later that I discovered what God’s Word had to say about the attitude of our minds and the quality of our lives:

Our lives are determined by the way we think (Proverbs 4:23).

When we change the way we think – renew our minds – we are transformed from the inside out (Romans 12:2).

We choose the way we think by taking our thoughts captive and making them in line with what God wants us to think (2 Corinthians 10:5).

We are what we think (Proverbs 23:7).

What about you? What do you focus on?

Thank You, Lord, for being with me, guiding me, and showing me the way to a fulfilling life. Amen.

Read and meditate on Philippians 4:8.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.