That might sound redundant, but it really isn’t. One of the reason I was so animated by the post I reblogged on Saturday is because I read it on the heels of similar thoughts. As is often the case, the spark which ignited this particular train of thoughts started with something my Benevolent Dictator said.
We were riding alone in the car recently, and it was quiet. It’s rather nice to be able to spend time alone without feeling a need to fill the blank space with noise and words just so that one or the other of us can feel *okay*. Sometimes it’s nice to just think. As we approached a red light the man said to me, rather out of the blue (with a disarming smile), “We have had a good life.” I could only agree, and added that we’ve also mostly had a good time, even when things were hard. And the silence returned.
I was not only encouraged but struck and blessed by this living example of one of my favorite verses of Scripture offered as I am working and praying diligently to master my own thoughts. Winnowing my thoughts, if you will. There are at least a few things my man could have used that time as opportunity to correct, admonish, or guide me about doing them better. Instead he was considering how blessed we are. I wonder how often Christians actually think about what we think about.
Our culture has trained us to think of ourselves primarily in terms of what we do. How much we do, how well we do it, how much better we do it than others. Christian culture does this as well, but we’re mostly conditioned to think in terms of what we don’t do. You know, the *big sins*. Christians don’t steal, cheat, commit adultery, fornicate, drink (I grew up Baptist), dance (I grew up Baptist), or listen to worldly music (I grew up Baptist). I wanted to include lying, but it’s one of those things that get little more than lip service. I think my point is clear either way. To the extent that we meet the requirements of our “good Christians don’t do checklist”, we feel free to rest on our self-righteous laurels.
We give short shrift, however, to things we do that are equally sinful and even more damaging, because they are things which are harder for those on the outside looking in to see and identify. Rather than feeling compassion towards sinner and the struggling we take the position of the Pharisee, smug in our righteousness, good health, prosperity, and comfort, never really stopping to consider what these kinds of thoughts reveal about us, our lack of gratitude and our misunderstanding of grace.
Every moment we spend judging, criticizing, or comparing is a moment we are not spending focusing on the noble, beautiful or true. Crouching criticisms, comparisons and judgements in religious sounding jargon doesn’t change the what they are. Lipstick on pigs, and all that good stuff.
The question of course becomes, “How do we winnow our thoughts, training them and directing them into the place where they produce positive action rather than passive, smug self-satisfaction?”
I’m still working that one out in my own heart, but I wonder if we will ever reach a place where we commiserate and bond over the good, beautiful things rather than the bad*? It seems like a tall order which, at least for me, weighs on the heart a little.
*I have some thoughts about this in the lives of women in particular, but it will take some time to work them out enough to articulate well.