“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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9
(Note: First off, I owe you an apology for the irregular postings these past few weeks. It was definitely not the intent and I am very sorry, fam. But after this week we’ll back to Sunday evening updates. Just had to get that out there.)
A couple of years ago while I scrolled through my Facebook feed, I stumbled across a picture of a glass jar filled with scraps of paper. It wasn’t anything fancy, just your standard mason jar, but it was the caption above it that caught my attention. The author of the post (I wish I can remember who it was!) suggested that at the end of each day, we should write down on a piece of paper one good thing that happened. Whether it be finding a $5 bill on the ground, completing a task at work, exercising, or even having a pleasant conversation with a stranger, we should write it down. At the end of the year, every piece is removed from the jar, and we should read aloud every good thing that occurred. “That’s a good idea,” I remember thinking, and started doing that in September 2018. I admit that I didn’t stick with it and didn’t have very many noted things on December 31.
“No worries, I’ll try again in 2019,” I encouraged myself.
I didn’t fare much better, because…life, stress…”adulting”. But, on December 31, 2019, I sat on my bedroom floor, poured out what I had collected and read every piece out loud. I smiled and chuckled as I remembered every moment that led up to the one good thing. Quiet reflection happened a lot, too, followed by tears of gratitude to the Lord. Through all of the highs and lows in our standard 24-hour period, there was always at least one event worthy of thanks and praise. Even if it was something like, “I didn’t go off on this person today” (not saying there was a paper slip with this, but…well, anyway), or “I completed repainting the bathroom today and didn’t mess it up”, it was a positive experience that had to be noted, a positive experience of peace.
So, I tried it again on January 1, 2020, and this is what my jar looks like (with a few missing days):
This activity made me think of this week’s Scripture because let’s be honest, Fam, we all could do with some positive thinking. Through our disruptive seasons, endurance trials, and the like, it is important to focus on “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable”. Paul instructed his readers to do this and instructs us, too.
Now being the nerd that I am, I searched for the healthy benefits of positive thinking, which may include the following:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Better cardiovascular health
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
I underlined the word “may” above because 1) that’s how the author of the source link wrote it, and 2) because these bullet points could very well not be realized without the guarantee from verse 9 –that God’s peace will be with us when we follow Paul’s lead. It’s interesting how we sometimes forget this fact, but the Lord’s presence and His power make the difference every time.
Correction, it’s not “interesting”: it’s the human condition predisposed to initially focus on any and everything but God, especially during the bad times. So much thought, energy, and emotions are consumed over planned do-overs and reactions, the “I wish he/she would try me again, because I’m the right one on the wrong day” attitude. Or if we’re not reciting the “wish” creed, we’re going extreme research/NCIS/forensic files, analyzing the negative moments and intentions until we think we’re down to the last atomic particle.
PSA, fam: We ain’t Gibbs from NCIS or Grissom from CSI. We can’t analyze every single thing, and I’m totally including myself. 😉
Operating in this mode, there’s little room to remember the positive moments and offer up a “Thank You, Lord”. There’s little room to use four muscles to smile, because we’re too busy straining forty-two muscles to frown. Yet there’s plenty of room for spiking blood pressure, restless nights, and stress eating.
But when we’ve exhausted ourselves near the point of no return, and the Enemy’s trick of distracting us to call on the name of the Lord falters, look Who’s right there ready to do what He does best?
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24
“And to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,” – Ephesians 4:23
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” – Colossians 3:15
There can be no greater comfort than knowing the Word of God alone is so powerful to calm a stressed and agitated mind with reminders like these and similar verses. It is a miracle, really, how one positive thought, one good, righteous deed, can cancel out every moment of a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” And it is on us to recondition our mindset to capture that moment and give the Lord thanks and praise. In times like these, we need to seek and appreciate every miracle we can get.
So, here’s my challenge to you, fam: starting tomorrow, get a jar, tear up some paper or use Post-Its, and before you go to bed right down one good thing that happened. And watch God’s peace at work.
Prayer: Dear Lord, we thank You and bless You for the little miracles each day that make us smile, lighten our hearts, and calm our minds. Guide us always to see the good—Your good—at work in all things. In Jesus’ name, Amen.