Over the last several weeks, I have been reading a great mini-book, Mindset forMoms, From Mundane to Marvelous Thinking in 30 Days, by Jamie C. Martin. Now, I’ll be honest, it has taken way more than 30 days for me to get through the book and though I wish there was a magic fix-it for my negative-bent brain, I long ago realized that there isn’t. I have been slowly working my way through the book though and have found some great, helpful ideas which I am trying very hard to put into practice or to practice more effectively. I’ve also written a bit about my efforts at my real-life blog.
Today I was really struck by the snippet I read in Chapter 23, because it is something I really struggle with. “After a negative situation or encounter with our kids, we analyze what happened a thousand different ways…” (Mindset for Moms, p 45) Surprisingly, unlike the rest of my life, I actually don’t spend a ton of time dwelling on my parenting missteps. I’ve gotten quite good at requesting a do-over - admitting when I screw up and asking my sweet daughter to forgive me (practice makes perfect!). She in turn has gotten adept at forgiving my ineptitude and forgetting all about it. But my mental replay screen has seemingly every other embarrassing, humiliating, uncomfortable, sinful, and stupid thing I’ve ever done as an adult filed temporally and available “on demand” with instant recall. Occasionally I’ll have a random bad memory out of the blue, but more often than not it is when I’ve done another embarrassing, humiliating, uncomfortable, sinful, or stupid thing that starts the instant replay going and, if I give it any leeway at all, I’ll find myself physically cringing, mentally berating myself for my past (and current) stupidity, and feeling really, REALLY low. As a person whose normal blues tip into clinical depression with relatively little prodding, that is not a good thing.
Over the years, I have worked very hard to overcome this propensity and to replace every bad thought with a good one. I’m not talking about ignoring those uncomfortable things simply because they are uncomfortable - believe me, they have already been remembered, reflected on, and mined for any nuggets of wisdom I can take from them. Forgiveness has been requested and received, yet they keep coming back to “haunt” me when I am vulnerable. I truly believe that the devil uses these instant replays to keep me from moving forward and truly experiencing the joy that lies in life with Christ. Knowing just where those replays can lead me, I’ve begun specifically asking God to take them away when they appear.
As a child in Catholic school, I grewup with the image of me standing before God while he reads a list of my past transgressions from a big book. Every time I sinned, it would be recorded in that book and it could never be erased. If the bad things hadn’t been appropriately atoned for, off to purgatory I would go (or worse!). Obviously that is a very child-like view of judgment day perpetuated by one or two really hard-core nuns who didn’t like children very much and I have since relinquished it in favor of the Truth.
God does not keep a running list of our sins that can never be erased; God sets our sins “as far as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12) Through the act of dying on the cross, Jesus took the punishment for my sins – all of them, no matter how cringe-worthy they are. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Through His grace, my sins are gone, wiped out, washed away. Just by confessing my sins and asking for forgiveness and believing in the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ, my blackened soul is wiped as clean as snow. (Isaiah 1:18) “He is faithful to [me] and cleanses [me] from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
It has been good for me to spend some time today thinking about this issue and remembering all the biblical Truth about how God REALLY treats our sins. With some practice, and the help of the Holy Spirit, I know that I will get to the point that every time that “movie in my mind” starts, I can replace it just as quickly with something from my inner Bible and the knowledge that and I am loved and I am forgiven.