Proverbs 4:23 Expanded Bible (EXB)
“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.”
I had a traffic accident recently. With several pressing project deadlines looming, I didn’t take the time to clearly process what happened. I just went on to work and added all the new items concerning the accident to my schedule for that day. Really, keeping my civility and cordiality, (vital in my career as I represent an organization in a sector of our community whose reputation tends to be slowly built and quickly trashed), while dealing with the insurance and rental companies was threatening to uncage my inner wet cat (a.k.a. meangirl – don’t judge me).
When I finally felt satisfied I’d done all I could for the day, it was nearing 8:00 pm. I decided what would help was carbs. I was in the drive-thru at a fast food place and the car in front of me suddenly stuttered and looked like it was getting ready to back up. My heart started some stuttering of its own as I had a déjà vu moment of being crashed into again.
Meangirl started getting squinty-eyed as I prepared to lay on the horn and (maybe) say something that might have been yelling and definitely would have been unhelpful to protect myself. My mind was not processing the fact that the backup lights were not engaged on the car in front of me. I was reacting to something that was not really happening. The moment passed and I realized the earlier accident had made me hypersensitive to every other car and driver in a twenty-block radius.
You know, someone might come out of nowhere and trash my car. Again. My mind did a replay – I’d experienced this after an accident in 2006. An accident that happened at the same intersection, I might add. In fact, my same car has had its front bumper replaced twice already. This is the third time.
Because I’ve experienced this before, I know that the hypersensitivity will fade. I won’t always creep along wondering if someone will run that red light three blocks away from my car. I don’t have to go overboard to protect myself because no one is deliberately targeting my car…well maybe that Allstate Mayhem guy but he’s not really real… See there, I’m back. Already. Sense of humor intact. Sense of the ridiculous fully functional and practicality reigning.
But what if my thought life took me somewhere else? What if my thought life went something like this instead?
What am I doing wrong? Maybe, I should never go near that intersection at that time of day again. Or, on that day of the week…or ever again. Maybe, if I get a different car, I’ll never have another accident. Maybe I should stop driving.
And what if I acted on those thoughts? A very troubled and distorted view of driving would become my normal and my world would become smaller.
If we are not careful, we can do this with people when things don’t go well in relationships. We become defensive, combative, aggressive, depressed… We go into every relationship leaving or believing we will be left. Do I need to continue? What to do to keep the right perspective of who we are and what we need to change? Back up and start at the beginning. What does the beginning look like?
It looks like God. Now, I don’t know everything there is to know about God. Let’s face it; if I did, He wouldn’t be big enough to help even one of us. But I do know everything about Him He put in the context of relationships. John 3:16 is a prime example. (EXB “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life.”)
And I know that it is vital to our peace and joy in this life that we are able to have healthy relationships with other people. So first, we must have an accurate view of how God sees us and a realistic view of our strengths and weaknesses, the kindness of our heart, and its capacity for meanness. We cannot navigate those minefields without the help of the God who loves us in spite of all our inner wet cat ways.
Bottom line? First, pursue a friendship with God. Being His is what makes us great relationship material with everyone else.
Oh, and what about meangirl? I’ll leave her for another time.