A few days ago, albeit feeling a tad silly, I googled, “how to think on the good all the time.”
I’m not sure what I was hoping for…maybe a detailed step by step plan to staying positive, or perhaps I’d discover someone’s secret to constantly dwelling on beauty and delighting in life. A magic formula to change my pessimistic outlook sounded perfect.
I am a natural worst-case scenario type of girl.
These flowers are going to die.
Our plane is going to crash.
My children are going to get sick on their birthday.
I am a terrible friend.
Feeling a little embarrassed I didn’t think of it first, my friend Google sent me straight back to the Bible. The top link on my screen directed me to the passage out of Philippians 4.
This scripture is no stranger to me. In fact, it would probably do me well to put myself on a daily dose of Paul’s words,
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things.”
But how, I wondered, does someone like me do this?
The next sentence brought more clarity to my question,
“The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me practice these things and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)
There it was- the answer I didn’t want. The secret I wished no one told me. The one and only step to “how to think on the good all the time.”
Practice these things.
An obvious answer, but also an unpleasant invitation to action and continued failed attempts.
A few weeks ago, I watched my son fall to the ground over 15 times as he tried to do the monkey bars. At first, he couldn’t make it across. He’d fall half way or just before he got to the end. It was painful to watch. He was awkward and frustrated, a little teary eyed, but stubbornly determined to get back up off the wood chip floor and do it again.
I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this…
After about 20 minutes, he finally made it across without falling.
Now, he swings and glides with a strength and coordination he didn’t know he had.
I feel like we want a hack for everything these days. When, truthfully, most everything in life, requires diligent daily practice.
We live in the age of overnight success stories. We brag about our ability to break habits and become happy or fit in 30 days or less.
Sadly, the practice parts of our stories don’t get acknowledged or applauded. We mislead others into thinking there are short cuts to change and formulas to get us where we want to be.
I video recorded my son’s repeated attempts to get across the monkey bars that day for a reason. I don’t want him to forget how it happened.
When the next challenge comes his way, as it surely will, I will have proof that practice is the way through, the answer to his how-to.
What is the monkey bar like challenge in your life friend?
Instead of searching for the steps, the secret formula, or the quick guide, like I did. Let these sacred words strike you with a fierce determination to stay loyal to the sometimes dull and drawn out process of endless transformation- Practice these things.
Want to smile more. Practicing smiling.
Want to run a 5k. Practice running.
Want to love others. Practice loving.
Want to be a friendly neighbor. Practice being friendly.
Want to think only on the good. Practice thinking only on the good.
I want to stop hoping for another hack, a way to detour the inevitable, the uneventful, the messy.
It’s true, people who practice may not have polished performances, but they do have an inner perseverance to become who God created them to be, even when the tears come.