There's child I know that really is a happy child. He knows how to play with toys and have fun with friends. He has smiled and laughed in my presence. He has danced to music and has played outside on the slide. These wonderful moments have to be caught here and there, because while this child has moments of being happy, most of the time he cries.
Even though this child is really young, I've been able to see what's going on inside his head. The child will start to allow himself to play and have fun, but then will remind himself that he doesn't want to be there. He will remind himself that he would rather be with Mommy. He will remind himself that he doesn't feel comfortable. He might even be feeling guilty that he's enjoying things away from home.
And as a childcare provider, I have to keep gently reminding him that he's safe, that he's in a place where he's loved, that his friends are all having fun and that he can have fun, too. I have to try to communicate to him that his neagtive thoughts aren't reasonable.
But as a human, I realize that I'm too much like that child. I'll allow little things to gnaw at me, bringing on guilt and shame that really isn't at all reasonable. I'll allow myself to get overwhelmed by things that aren't really that big of a deal. I'll start looking around at what others have, and I'll start wondering what must be wrong with me if I don't also have those things. And like that child I know, I'll rob myself of joy by letting myself get into the "stinkin thinkin" mindset.
I'm not sure who originally coined the phrase "stinkin thinkin," but I'll always remember it as being a trademark statement from one of my college professors, who was also my work study boss. This man was one-of-a-kind. He would come in from teaching, and I'd be grading papers. He'd be singing some song about his sweetheart and put my name into it, then he'd look at me and say, "How are you today, love? You aren't doing any of that stinkin thinkin, are you?"
And I'd say no, but in college, I figure "stinkin thinkin" was about all I did. I'm probably going to always struggle with anxiety on some level, but in college it was pretty bad. So I got a bunch of magic markers (I've said it before and I'll say it again, what's so magical about them?) and some cardstock, and I wrote Philippians 4:6-7 on it. Then I hung it over my bed as a reminder to not be so anxious. That's a pretty popular passage, but I'll post it here, along with the surrounding verses:
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."
This is a great passage, but lately I've found myself drawn less to verses 6-7, and more towards verse 8.
There are so many things in this world that call for our attention and our thoughts. And if I let myself believe all the lies of Satan--that I have to be perfect, that mistakes aren't tolerable, that people don't really know or love me, that I have to create my own worth apart from Christ...then I'll let myself get stuck in the trap of believing I'll never be good enough, and that there's no hope.
Satan is clever in that he gives us half-truths. The thing is, I really never will be good enough. But...there is SO much hope. I don't have to be good enough. My worth is in Christ. And if I daily renew my mind, thinking, dwelling on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, the things that are excellent and worthy of praise--then I'm not going to have room for Satan's lies. Not even his half-truths.
If I'm honest with myself, the times when I allow myself to get the most depressed are the times when I'm most focused on myself. There's not too much about me that's excellent or praise-worthy. It's when I dwell on serving others, on worshipping God, that I am most honoring to His Kingdom.
The child in my class is learning that it's okay to think about good things. I, too, am learning to remind myself of the truth, so I can leave that stinkin thinkin behind.