** 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 here be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ** Philippians 4:8
There are several ways that we fall into dark, mental traps. Some surprise us and shock us to realize we could think in such a way. But others are deeply seated ideas that have established a lifestyle and a lifetime of incorrect thinking. This is a topic that we could talk about for days and days, but let’s just look at a few points.
Our imaginations— believing things that are not true, based on feelings or past history, or simply imaginations founded on our own phobias or shortcomings.
Nobody loves me…..let’s think about that….NOBODY???….not our mother? not our children? not our friends? And of course, GOD? God doesn’t love me?
I think part of the issue here is perception.
A really great book for anyone that feels unloved or has trouble expressing love is -The Five Love Languages- by Gary Chapman. It explains in very simple terms that each of us perceive love in different ways.
For me, I FEEL loved when someone spends time with me or when they give me gifts. I do NOT feel loved through physical contact. Physical contact bothers me based on childhood abuse. I have learned to allow safe contact and have grown to find comfort in my husband’s embrace, but it was a battle for me to do so.
On the other hand, my husband feels loved when he is complimented and affirmed (compliments make me very uncomfortable ) and he feels loved through physical contact.
Do you see a recipe for a disastrous relationship? Do you see the many opportunities for miscommunication, and difficulty satisfying each other’s need for love?
This is where I see the practical application for Philippians 4:8….
If I start thinking my husband doesn’t really love me because he is busy working and trying to get his things done, and I go down into a dark pit of despair because he is not loving me by spending ALL his time with me, my imaginations are running amok and I am causing my own potential marital problems.
Is this thought true? Is it lovely? Is it of good report? Or worthy of praise? No, I don’t think so.
So, I first have to recognize that my thoughts are misguided. Then I need to shift them onto the right path. I need to remember all the times that he does spend time with me. And I need to not expect him to live 24 hours a day doing what I want, right? I need to share him and his time with others and with God. If I need him to show me love by spending time with me, are there not others in this world that also feel loved and valued if he spends time with them? Am I that selfish that I think he is only allowed to spend time with me?
Can we see how our thoughts can lead us down the wrong mental and emotional path? And can we see that our thoughts are the catalyst for many of our relationship problems?
Do we think only on things that are true, or do we dwell on gossip, or fake news, or controversial issues that cause us to lose our peace of mind?
Do we think on what is honest and just, or are we forgetting some important details? Do we prefer to hold our ground in spite of conflicting evidence? Are we allowing half-truths to guide our thoughts and emotions?
Pure and lovely….Do we only think the best of others? Do we only have positive and peaceful responses to other’s hurtful words?
Good report….This one is a tough one, no? The internet and the news is full of bad report. Do we talk and think about too much of all that information? Are you as sick of political talk and Covid talk as I am?
Virtue and praise….the solution to all dark thinking. The Key to a Happy Life.
Can we find something good to say about others? Can we find something good to say about the Lord so we can turn a conversation onto healthier ground? Do we allow this moment’s problems to make us forgetful of all the amazing things the Lord does for us day after day? Can we learn to communicate better our own love language and learn to respond to others in their love language? Can we focus on the best attributes of our spouse and our friends instead of their faults?
I think we probably can all learn to do a little better.
Philippians 4:8 is a great daily verse. To read it. Meditate on it. To live it. Every day.
It isn’t an easy verse. It is a lifetime verse that takes work, time, a changed heart, and a humble spirit.
It’s what we all need if we are going to truly impact other’s lives. It’s a verse that has transformed my marriage from heading for divorce to being a happy one, both of us receiving what we need from each other in our own love languages. And it has helped us both to think first and act second. Think on the positive traits that we both have and dwell on those and not on the differences and shortcomings that we BOTH have.
Virtue and Praise….the Key to a Happy Life.