Have you noticed how negative patterns in our lives are so hard to break? For me, it works a lot like my food habits: I can eat the occasional fatty meal here and there with very little consequence. I can even eat terribly for a day or two without gaining a pound. If I splurge into day three, however, it’s like my body is making up for lost time. Wham! I’ll put on 5 pounds seemingly overnight. And losing that weight? Ugh! It always seems to take twice as long to take it off as it took to put it on.
So I’m learning the importance of patterns, both negative and positive. With food, if I focus on making healthy choices and eliminating “trigger” foods from my reach—those are the foods I have no self-control over so I don’t even try keeping them around!—I gradually, permanently lose weight. So it sounds easy, right? It’s not! It’s a constant effort to be intentional about what I put in my mouth. It requires awareness of my surroundings, preparation for how I’ll approach that dinner party or eating at a particular restaurant. In other words, I can’t just wing it! I have to be conscientious, knowing I won’t be perfect but also knowing if the large majority of my choices are healthy ones, the positive pattern will keep my weight in check.
I have found our emotional patterns work much the same way. If I focus on all my failures, if my mental pattern is one of negativity and defeat, I receive more failure and negative emotion in return. If I begin replacing those ugly thoughts with God’s truths about me, acknowledging I’m His amazing, justified, incredible daughter whom He loves with an everlasting love, how I feel about myself begins to change. It takes work; it takes time; it takes intentional focus, but I begin to experience blessing and healing. Positive emotions and experiences begin to fill up my life. I may still have lapses, but my overall life is filled with God’s love for me.
The Bible puts it this way in Luke 6:31 (MSG): “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!” A practical use of this would be if you want a friend, be a friend. In time, you’ll find yourself with some deep friendships. I think that’s why this scripture is sometimes called “the golden rule.” The results are rich with blessing!
Philippians 4:4-9 says, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies and walk with you.” (MSG, VOICE) Nuff said 😉
For further thought: What negative pattern in your life needs an extreme makeover? What needs to change in your thinking in order for you to begin to achieve it? How can you implement this mental change each and every day?