I began the week with this, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things." (Philippians 4:8)
Sunday evening, I wrote eight words on my hand. True. Noble. Just. Pure. Lovely. Reputable. Virtuous. Praiseworthy.
My goal on Sunday was to evaluate each thought as it arrived, run it through the checklist. Here's how it works: Thought, "The house is dirty." Okay, that one is true. Next thought: "Your house is dirty, thus you are a failure as a wife and mom." Not true.
Here's another one. Stepping on the scales reveals a number which is higher than I'd like. "You need to lose some weight." True. "Since you are overweight, you are unlovely."
Not true. "Hey Jesus, will you check this thought out?" I visualize handing Him a slip of paper, and discarding the thought completely unless He validates it and hands it back to me.
Part of what makes me successful as a writer is this ongoing thread of conversation which plays in my head. I am always writing in there, fulminating on a combination of words which sound "right" when approached by a reader. I've done this all my life. I thought everyone else did as well.
Since I don't have a dataport to download all these literary jewels, the ruminating and fulminating is mostly useless. And frankly, it's noisy in there sometimes. My intent was to discipline my thoughts, begin to park them in time-out if they weren't being good, discard them if they were pointless.
All of these are easy thoughts on a Sunday, after a morning filled with church and hugs from loving friends. Then there was lunch and my mandatory Sunday Afternoon Nap. It was back to church that night for praise and worship. I was all set for the week ahead.
Monday is, of course, inevitable. That week I hardly caught a breath, let alone had time to remember to capture my list in print, or post it on my monitor.
Working in a newsroom, a myriad of information penetrates my consciousness on any given day. An equal percentage of this information is as negative as it is perfectly useless. Crime, trauma, rumor, innuendo. There are complaints and vague rumblings, accompanied sometimes by the trite and menial. You try to slough it off, but some days I go home with a spirit that feels heavy.
In many ways, I reckon the old saw, "if the devil can't make you bad, he makes you busy," is true. I was really busy. Besides, I figure Jesus probably isn't interested in hearing my thoughts as I'm writing about school lunch prices or my trip to Flat Creek to catch hellgrammites.
Then there was a call in which someone expressed their displeasure with my reporting, and in that particular moment, none of my thoughts went through the Jesus Desk. None were submitted to an eight-item checklist.
We each want to perceive our own words and actions as being a part of a true, noble and just persona. That's just human nature. Outwardly, I was okay -- but I know inwardly that I processed a series of thoughts which were anything but Christ-like.
The Good News is, better than I have in all the years I've loved the Lord, I know with certainty Whose child I am. I serve a God who doesn't condemn but perpetually forgives.
I have slipped in my resolve this week, but the process of sanctification is one in which we are lovingly allowed to fail, confess, and submit ourselves again and again until we get the lesson right.
Love you, Lord. See you Monday.
-- Tracy Simmons is a features writer for the Times-Gazette. She may be reached at (931) 684-1200, ext. 217, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.