You wake up in this new world. In the old world, if you had some time on a Saturday morning, maybe you went to your favorite coffee shop and sat there nursing a cappuccino. If you were at a mall, maybe you did some shopping. And if you had time that evening, maybe you and friend hung out in a favorite part of town.
It has been months since I had a day like that. Instead, it feels like we’ve all been sent to our rooms. We used to be in control, but now we’re out of control. The list of things we can no longer do is long. And it can feel discouraging.
Are you feeling out of control? If so it’s important to recognize that you may actually have a lot more control over your life than you realize. You have control over what you choose to dream about, who you choose to trust, and how you spend your time. This whole Covid quarantine can be a complete downer, or you can choose your attitude. You can control your level of thankfulness and your perspective.
When you take all these things that you can control and group them, they fit into three categories:
- Your thoughts
- Your feelings
- Your actions
You may say, “Well, that’s not true, I can’t control my thoughts – they race. Temptations come into my mind unbidden.” Or you may say the same thing about your feelings or actions. Let’s look at each.
While it’s true that you may currently have little control over your thought life, it’s also true that you can begin to, as the Bible says, “take every thought captive.” (2 Cor. 10:5
You can begin with awareness of the thoughts flooding your mind. And from there you can “set your mind on things above.” (Col. 3:2
We have a lot more control over our thought life than we may realize. We can choose to pray. We can choose to meditate. We can choose to memorize Scripture. We can choose not to listen to gossip.
What about our feelings? We all feel angry or hurt from time to time. Can we really control our feelings? Here again, while we may experience a rush of emotion, we get to choose what we’re going to do next.
Have you experienced a friend who felt like a victim when you knew that the reason they were hurting was because of a poor choice they had made? Our feelings are a function of our thoughts and actions. I love my grandchildren, but sometimes I’ll watch them wake up in a negative frame of mind. They come into the living room with a cloud hanging over them. They have chosen to feel bad.
So many young people don’t see the power they have over their feelings. They create an artificial conflict between authenticity and feelings. The practice of mindfulness
allows us to begin to recognize our feelings, turn toward them, and recognize why they are there. Feelings don’t own us, we own them.
Years ago Flip Wilson, a comedian, had a line: “The devil made me do it.” And while it is technically possible to so relinquish your will to evil so that that happens, free will is a powerful thing. God invested us with choice so that we might exercise it and pursue him.
Love may be associated with a feeling, but if you read 1 Corinthians 13
, you see that it is expressed as action. Our actions begin as thoughts. Before the thought becomes an action, it has to pass through the filter of choice.
Bottom line – the circumstances of your life may be beyond your control, but how you respond to them – your thoughts, feelings and actions are a function of the choices you make. Owning that can be tremendously empowering.
You can decide to take control over the important things in your life in the next few moments. You can choose to live completely differently.
Let’s choose wisely!