“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your MIND.’”
Matthew 22: 37
Last night, with sweet friends filling our home, sounds of laughter and connection reverberating, I took notice of the little one who seemed to have no concern for how to interact, or with whom. Driven by impulse, unabashed in her every move, she ran and spun, crumpling to tears, bursting with excitement, running off with confidence, coming close for reassurance, stopping to tackle her baby brother, running off to grab a friend by the cheeks, taking a quick lap around the house, just because.
Her shamelessness is puzzling and refreshing. Her haphazardness amazing, beautiful, innocent…
But I’m struck that I sometimes allow my mind to run wild in this same way. How unfitting. Unlike the sweet innocent freedom of my baby girl, my chaotic and haphazard thoughts, if left unchecked, threaten my joy, steal my peace, distract and burden me…
I should have reminded the babysitter to keep the basement door closed. I need to put on the cabinet locks. I hope the big kids got to swim practice ok. They all need more of me. And more play dates, too. And more alone time. And probably more sleep. How am I going to keep the boy from falling behind on reading this summer? He’s worked so hard. What if…? And what am I going to do about that sweet little overlooked middle child who often disappears in her room with her hurt feelings? What if…? And how can I get my kids to stop fighting? And how should I cut down on our clutter? The crafts are everywhere. Are they learning to take responsibility for their things?
Are we reading enough? Are these tantrums normal? Maybe they need healthier meals. How do I keep my picky eaters from running our house? I need to schedule a babysitter for next Friday. Have I had too many babysitters lately? Did I schedule check-ups for my summer birthday kids? Babysitters for those, too. Maybe we should cut out TV. And artificial food dye. But what about birthday parties? I don’t want to be that mom. Maybe I should get that wheezy little one allergy tested. What if…?
My thoughts bounce from one worry to the next, often lacking direction, aimless and reactionary. They mask their erraticism under the guise of getting things in order, problem solving, decision making. But in truth, who of us by worrying can add a single hour to our lives? (Luke 12: 25).
Often our words and actions take priority, and our thoughts are left to their own, seeming ungovernable, idiosyncratic, and presumed to be mostly harmless.
Every mama knows there is much to think about, plan for, change or organize, lead or coordinate, nurture or decide. We use these minds God gave us for the benefit and blessing of our families…to be intentional, thoughtful and strategic.
But allowing our thoughts to pinball around, frantically condemning the past and resolving to some new future, worrying, fretting, and rolling over the “What if”s”— it is a joyless and peaceless existence.
Our worry is fruitless and distracting.
Throughout the gospels, Jesus speaks to and answers the thoughts of a person, often instead of their words or actions. He knows that our thoughts can govern us, drive us, control us, hold us captive. He also knows that our minds can be renewed to align with his, that our thoughts can be steadfast on him, and lead us to all that he imagined for us as his children. He knows that he can set us free, renew our hope, keep our peace. And he longs to do so, through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12: 2). Our thoughts can run rampant, but we are advised in God’s Word to never let them.
When we call to mind that God’s steadfast love endures forever, his mercies new each morning (Lamentations 3: 22-23), we have HOPE.
When we choose to believe we are whom God says we are – his children, in whom He delights – we have CONFIDENCE.
When we call to mind what God has done, we ENDURE.
When we set our minds on things of God, and not things of man, we live SUBMITTED to God’s sovereignty.
When we choose to believe God is who He says He is, that He will fight for us, we have VICTORY. (Deuteronomy 20: 4, John 16: 33)
When we place our hope in God, He renews our STRENGTH.
When we cast our burdens on the Lord, we will NOT BE SHAKEN. (Psalm 55: 22)
When we come to Christ with our heavy burdens, we receive REST for our weary souls. (Matthew 11: 28-30)
When we reject fear, we receive God’s HELP and PRESENCE. (Isaiah 41: 13, Psalm 23: 4)
When we take our thoughts captive, and submit them to Christ… When we present our requests to him with thanksgiving, we have PEACE that guards our hearts. (Philippians 4: 4-7; 2 Corinthians 10: 5)
When we turn our thoughts to gratitude, we receive JOY.
These are all decisions we can make, actions we can take. Our thoughts don’t just happen to us, mamas, we choose and direct them.
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.
Philippians 4: 8
As our little ones grow out of toddlerhood, they need not simply lose the freedom with which they began. As they mature, they can grow into the even more exquisite freedom intended for the children of God. Mamas, let’s walk in the freedom Christ intended for us, and give our children a beautiful example of what true freedom looks like.
Today, sweet friends, let’s test our thoughts against the truth of God’s Word, grab hold of them and allow them to come under God’s promises.
And let’s drink of the boundless freedom, the steadfast joy, the unshakable peace, the enduring hope that God intends for us, his beloved children.