We've all seen the old movies and TV shows depicting early American towns where the village gossip, a woman, would be chatting with her friends on a bench watching the townsfolk pass by. "Did you hear about Betty? She left ol' Johnny and took the stagecoach down south. Can you believe the nerve of her? That poor fellow, I wouldn't be surprised if that new cook stove of theirs doesn't catch their cabin on fire. And to think he bought that for her last Christmas, do you know how much he spent on that thing, tsk, tsk..." We laugh and often wonder how people like that have so much time on their hands to be worried so much about other folk. Really, are we much better? Even though, we as moms are so busy cooking, cleaning and taking care of our children there are still plenty of opportunities to fall into a similar trap. Play dates, girl's night out and of course the easily accessible social media. We may not tweet or post gossip filled comments on our social media sites but it is easy to read about someone else's life and casually bring it up to our husband when he gets home or to a friend the next time we are "catching up."
Many moms, myself included, have struggled with this at one time or another. What we don't realize is, not only is it affecting us but it is affecting our families too. And not in the obvious ways either. Rather the more subtle. It affects our mind. When our minds are negatively affected by these thoughts it can change the whole atmosphere in our home and in our schooling.
Rather than trying to make us all feel guilty for our shortcomings, I'd like to encourage you to nip these thoughts in the bud before they can take root in our lives. I believe that in the long run this will produce a happier more peaceful environment in the home.
3 Practical Ways to Help Take Your Thoughts Captive
1- Do Not Rehearse Former Conversations in Your Mind.
No, seriously. Get over it. What is done is done. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. You said it. It's over. Whether it was a conversation in real life or a comment you left on someone's Facebook status, you said it. It's out there. That was in your heart at the time. It's easy to rehearse, rehash and wish we had never said something. It happens to everyone. We will get nowhere living in guilt and shame over past conversations. We can't change it and we will only waste time thinking out it! Now if you need to make something right by all means do it, but a majority of the time we just need to get over ourselves and move on! Remember, you can't be fully engaged with your child or spouse if your mind is dwelling on these things. Live in the present!
2- Do Not Formulate Future Conversations in Your Head.
The Bible says to think upon things that are true. When we start thinking about what we are going to say to someone the next time we see them and then our mind begins making up scenarios about their possible response we are entering dangerous territory. No matter how predictable this person may be, you do not know what their response will be. Give the situation to the Lord. Trust him to lead and guide you in your words and actions with this person. Again, if you are thinking and dwelling on this, you are not fully present with your kids. You are distracted and distant which can cause distress, not peace in the home.
3- Don't Think Angry Thoughts About Others
This should be a given, right? But how often are we reminded of someone or think about someone and we begin to think about something that they have done or said that rubbed us the wrong way. When this happens we need to be quick to turn our minds to other things rather than dwelling on the person or situation. The person isn't even there, with you at the moment, so don't let them ruin your day!
God wants us to live in perfect peace but if we dwell on other people's shortcomings we are not in sync with God. Then if our child has a need, we are not fully there to respond. We may react in anger, frustration or annoyance but in reality we are reacting to the offence we were just thinking about. You might be surprised how easily this can ensnare us. Try to pinpoint it. Next time you snap at your child take note of what you were thinking about immediately before. Were you upset at your spouse for not fixing the broken pipe in the bathroom? Were you thinking about that comment the store clerk made about your kids not being in school when you went to the store earlier in the day? It's amazing how these thoughts can be taken captive once we realize we are starting to head in that direction. And it's freeing when we begin to make the change for our family's sake!