Sara stirred awake, hearing the baby’s whimpering through the monitor.
Eyes barely open, she glanced at the clock. The red digital display said 3:23.
Whimpering turned to fussing, then crying, and Sara knew the three week old’s tummy was waking him.
She sighed. She pushed back the covers, sat up and eased out of the bed. She glanced at her husband, still sleeping, and walked out of the room to the baby’s nursery to feed him.
So already we have a few potential derailment opportunities in the few seconds that have elapsed.
Sara’s sigh could mean any number of things – internally, maybe she’s regretting making the decision to stay home with the baby. Maybe the hours (feeding “round the clock” means literally, “round the clock”) and lack of sleep are getting to her and she wishes she hadn’t decided to nurse, regardless of the health benefits. Or maybe she’s just tired.
Where will she go? Where will she end up? Where have YOU gone in those minutia moments of the day?
In the moment when she glanced at her husband, she also could have “gone down a path” of negativity, one where she ended up resentful, hurt, and angry at him, and at herself.
I’m bringing this situation up today because it fits perfectly with Dare 25 from The Respect Dare.
Instead of criticizing herself or others, a friend of mine used to say, “There’s something we just don’t know.”
She was really good at NOT getting her exercise by jumping to conclusions.
This small situation brings to light just a few things that quickly derail our thinking and as an outcome, our relationships.
We fail to see the multiple small choices that we make in the middle of a moment.
These small choices lead to big impact if we’ll but be aware of them. If Sara is a mature woman, capable of living Philippians 4:8 in her life, she can see the way God does – whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy, excellent, and she’ll think about those things. She probably won’t do this in every circumstance, but in many she encounters in her life.
An immature person’s way of thinking would respond to the baby’s cry with resentment, frustration, sadness, even anger. A sense of “unfairness” would begin to generate more unhealthy thoughts, those of “Why me?” and “I hate this,” and even possibly, “I wish I hadn’t had kids.”
In other words, we start believing lies. And the more immature we are, the more lies we believe.
We are dealing with our own selfish nature, and an enemy that has thousands of years of experience with human behavior. If we will avoid a few things and choose instead to ask ourselves first “what is true?” we will avoid creating negative reactions to things that aren’t even conflicts until we turn them into one! We can then process things rationally and maturely deal with the issues as needed (in this case, lack of sleep, perhaps).
Thoughts to take captive:
- Thoughts of criticism toward ourselves – we focus on something negative about ourselves and judge ourselves. This is a sin, and different than simply acknowledging a fault or sin of ours, seeking repentance and moving on. Even Christ didn’t come to judge the world. Sara could be thinking, “If I were a better mom, he’d be sleeping 5 hours straight by now” (judging herself a “bad mom”), or “If I wasn’t such a poor eater, and my diet was better, my milk would be richer and he’d sleep better” (judging herself a “poor eater”), or, “I have no willpower. If I hadn’t had that chocolate after supper, he’d still be asleep” (judging herself as lacking in self control). These things might be true, but repentance means we acknowledge the sin and turn from it – not wallow in recurrent judgment and criticism of ourselves. Often these things are lies, too – like the “bad mom” judgment.
- Thoughts of criticism toward others – we create a negative interpretation of what we see and make assumptions about others as a result. Immature thoughts filtering into her mind would potentially be triggered by looking at her husband. “Why does HE get to sleep?” and “I know he is going to work tomorrow and I’m home, but why do I always have to be the one who’s exhausted?”
- Thoughts of blame toward others – instead of dealing with the reality we are in and being proactive to change it, we passively wish it were different and shift responsibility to someone else. In this case, the husband is the most rational choice: “If he really loved me, he’d get up during the week once in a while.” This can occur even if you and your husband worked through who would do what when – we still might expect more than what was agreed upon, and when we don’t receive it, we blame. “He never helps out,” when the truth might be very different. Even if he doesn’t help as much as you’d like, the immature response is emotional blame instead of maturely working through the issue.
- Thoughts of justification toward ourselves – the ultimate pity party invitation, where we rationalize our position such that we deeply entrench ourselves in how RIGHT we are to feel wronged. Without even being conscious, while engaging in a previously agreed upon method of handling the middle of the night waking baby, we’ve criticized, judged and condemned our husband, in a self-protecting effort to be right by justifying how we feel.
This criticism-blame-justification cycle is what we refer to as, “I feel bad so it must be someone’s fault.”
The truth is that life can be hard, but how we interpret truth matters and deeply impacts whether or not we will have happiness and the extent to which we will allow joy to permeate our lives.
1 Peter 3:8, 9
To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kind-hearted, and humble in spirit, not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
And whether we like it or not, if God is good all the time, within the moment of the now you are in, even if it is hard, He is working out something good. This is a thing I know from personal experience.
I’m glad you are on the journey with us! Now it’s your turn!
Would love to hear how God’s helped you overcome and have more joy by being thankful, or how you are taking thoughts captive. Are you dishing criticism, blame, or justification? Dare you to share today!
Love to you,