Envision these three scenarios…Life is good-you are living la dolce vita as the Italians say when wham-you are unexpectedly smacked in the face, literally or figuratively. You can’t stop thinking about it. Your mind is preoccupied and scattered, even though the situation is largely out of your control.
You work hard and are living the life you’ve always wanted when you look around and wonder “is this all there is?” Achievements don’t feel as satisfying or fulfilling as anticipated and you wonder why.
You are moving along when your foot lands wrong. Looking up from the ground, you wonder how you got there and what to do about the growing discomfort in your leg.
These situations have at least one thing in common: life just got more difficult. No more coasting. Abruptly, you are forced into deeper thought or action. Complications and consequences are now creating challenging choices.
I have lived all of these examples in one way or another. They speak to different parts of our wellness in mind, soul and body.
We’ll look at each of them over the next few posts and discuss how small steps can bring wellness in each case.
First scenario-something appears out nowhere and steals your peace of mind. Unpredictably, your thoughts are filled with uncontrollable worries you can’t let go. Negative feelings are clouding your mind and distracting you from everything important.
Whether this negative vortex sucks you in ever so slightly with benign comments or very swiftly with events or harsh words, the effect is the same. Your thoughts are diverted, negative and unproductive. You don’t know what to do next.
At this moment, the vital thing to do is focus on the truth living within you. God lives in each of us who believe in Him. That negative, obsessive, unconstructive voice is not God. Push out the damaging thoughts. Give the worry, obsession and wonderment of what to do next to the One who holds the whole world in His hands.
Jesus tells us about the life he desires for us in John 10:10:
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
Don’t allow the lying thief to speak destruction into your mind and life. Let Jesus’ words echo instead. Jesus spoke these truths into the hearts of his disciples at the last supper just prior to his betrayal:
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. (John 14: 1)
I am leaving you today with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27)
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
The same sentiments were echoed later by the apostles Peter and Paul.
Peter puts it this way in 1 Peter 5:7:
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
And Paul puts it this way in his letter to the Philippians 4:6:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
When life serves up uncontrollable circumstances, we feel paralyzed. While we can’t always control situations, other people or their words, we can always control one thing-our thoughts. Choose your thoughts wisely as they determine your subsequent actions.
Mind wellness is often overlooked until our thoughts are muddled. Fix your mind on what is positive, true and resist the urge to worry. God is in control, so we needn’t be. Pray, seek His direction, listen and follow. Following God’s lead will never lead to wrong thoughts or actions.
When life feels out of control, hand it over to your Savior and embrace the peace that flows. Decide daily to study His Word and fill your mind with His ways. Then watch as God transforms the way you think as Paul tells us in Romans 12:2:
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Focus, think and live daily in the transformational peace of God. It will arm you with truth when uncontrollable situations, people or words distract and attempt to steal your peace.
Stay tuned for wellness strategies for the next two scenarios in the next two posts…