Humility is important, Living with other believers, real living in a virtual world

Thinking about what we think about

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.

 

 

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15 thoughts on “Thinking about what we think about”

  1. Yep, bad news leads. LOL at the Christianese alert.

    It’s one thing to look at the world around us, current events, etc and have thoughts about the way of the world.
    I just commented this morning -for probably the 100th time!- that someone needs to shut down President Trump’s Twitter account.

    But (and you’re another person who has blessed me with the gratitude you’ve expressed for the life you and D have despite the hard stuff), that’s one thing.

    There is another; a moralizing and self-aggrandizement characteristic of worldly people that Christians indulge in, which probably isn’t new, but… It is becoming annoying to me, frankly because it’s a bad witness. I hope however, that it produces in me a determination to live and think more conscientiously.

    That’s the goal, anyway.

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  2. After a rather difficult winter, I’m trying not to give the negative much quarter. It’s hard to avoid entirely, but for me it’s sort of “live now or don’t live at all”. I don’t know when I’ll have things as I’d like or what I think will make life better than it is, or if I’ll have that at all, so it’s “what if this is all you’ll get? And can’t you find the good things about it too and just dwell on those things, meanwhile preparing to be somewhere else?” Gee, doesn’t that sorta sound like preparing for the next life, whatever that might be? 😉

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  3. it’s sort of “live now or don’t live at all”. I don’t know when I’ll have things as I’d like or what I think will make life better than it is, or if I’ll have that at all, so it’s “what if this is all you’ll get?

    Yes!! The book I am reading (Modern Romance of all things), has a chapter almost entirely dedicated to the research which found a large amount of life dissatisfaction for people who obsess over having “the best” everything, relish in a plethora of choices, and actually GET most of what they want compared to people who are satisfied with a life that sufficiently meets their needs.

    Fascinating stuff, and since the reality is that very few of us will even get half of what we think we *need* let alone want, it’s best to “live now or don’t live at all”

    Totally unrelated (LOL), I think Monday is increasingly looking like my chill out day after another crazy weekend.

    There will be lots of laundry done today, though. Lots of laundry.

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  4. Laundry is a relaxing, pleasant chore. Lots of nice smelling, warm piles of cloth to do repetitive motions through.

    Getting a hold on my thought life is a constant battle.

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  5. 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?”

    There is a straightforward answer in scripture, and it’s somewhat easier to accomplish than we might like: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Phil 4:8.) The darkness creeps in whenever we are less occupied with the good–the better portion that is ours in Christ and reflected in other believers.
    Your Benevolent Dictator’s use of supposed downtime in the car was indeed wise. Well-spotted. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, Alan. In fact, that was the “favorite passage of Scripture I referred to in the post.

    Of course, as my friend Joanna noted. bad news leads and we simply MUST do what Phil 4:8 prescribes aggressively and with intention until it is internalized or we will default to the darkness. And even after we’ve *got it*, we still can;t let our guard down. I’ve learned that the hard way many times.

    Thanks for your insightful comment, and welcome.

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  7. Okay, turns out there is a pdf of the book online and since I had never even heard the term “satisficer” before encountering it there, I’m going to just paste Ansari and Simon’s explanation of it right here:

    Generally,
    Simon argued, people and
    organizations lack the time,
    knowledge, and inclination to
    seek out “the best” and are
    surprisingly content with a
    suboptimal outcome.

    Maximizing is just too
    difficult, so we wind up being
    “satisficers” (a term that
    combines “satisfy” and
    “suffice”).

    We may fantasize
    about having the best of
    something, but usually we are
    happy to have something
    that’s “good enough.”

    According to Simon,
    people can be maximizers
    and satisficers in different
    contexts. For example, when
    it comes to, let’s say, tacos,
    I’m a maximizer. I’ll do a
    rigorous amount of research
    to make sure I’m getting the
    best taco I can find, because
    for me there is a huge
    difference in the taco
    experience.

    A satisficer will
    just get tacos wherever they
    see a decent taco stand and
    call it a day.

    In other words, they define a “satisficer” (or a person for whom “good enough is good enough”) as the near polar opposite of a “maximizer” or someone who expects to get and will only be able to be happy with getting most of what they want most of the time.

    They go into more detail, but I just snagged a snippet

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cool stuff. The concept of “satisficer” reminded me somehow of the Rolling Stones’ song “You can’t always get what you want.” Or maybe “Satisfaction”. I like the parallel with your current post on your book blog, too, and it reminds me of a time when I was dating Mrs. Bubba and wanted to take her to a nicer restaurant as we were driving up the PCH a couple of hours from LA, but ended up visiting Le Roi Burger. It worked OK.

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