My son once asked me, “Where do you live?” He hadn’t suddenly forgotten our address. The question could have been translated: “Do you live in the past, or do you live in the future?” It was Chris’s way of finding out what preoccupies my thoughts.
My answer: “Some people live in the past. Reliving memories of happier times. Others live in the future. Waiting for a dream to come true. I choose to live in the center of God’s will for my life.”
Chris’s inquiry got to the heart of emotional stability. Anxiety or peace. Dissatisfaction or contentment. Striving or resting.
A mother who has a child with serious mental illness (MI) might be tempted to live in the past. To reminisce of times when her child seemed care-free. Or, she may be taunted by thoughts of what the future holds for her child. Fearful that things could get worse.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy paging through the memory book of my mind. Flipping through mental images of Chris bowling with his brother, receiving his black belt in karate, or playing his trombone in Penn State’s marching Blue Band.
Another favorite mental pastime of mine is to push the time travel button in my mind. To mentally transport myself to the future with Chris. To stroll down the streets of future scenes. Take a peek at Desires Boulevard, Hopes Avenue, and Dreams Lane. Gather assurances that Chris will be okay.
But, I’ve learned that dwelling in the past or living solely for the future can lead to torment.
Philippians 4:8 tells us to concentrate on, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Why are we told to focus on those things? If we make it our goal to fill our thoughts with such things, will it make a difference?
Let’s try it. Reflect on examples of each category. Think about how those truths would apply to the struggles you face as a mom of a child with MI.
Contemplate what is true. We know for sure certain things about God. He is alive, in control, all powerful, and accessible. He showed His love by giving His only Son. He will heal, help, protect, and answer (for your good and for His kingdom, to bring about His perfect plan).
Consider what is noble. It is honorable to love unconditionally. God enables us to bless those who curse.
Think about what is right. It is good to keep forgiving without reservation. And to pray for our enemies.
Ponder what is lovely. God’s creation reminds us of His power. He’s still in control.
Examine what is pure. Christ’s perfection provides an example of pure actions. The Holy Spirit helps us achieve holy thoughts…of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and gentleness.
Acknowledge what is admirable. Providing help and protection to the vulnerable is commendable. Doing it daily, sacrificially, and selflessly is a testimony of God’s faithfulness.
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6
Rest your thoughts on your Lord as you listen to Hillsong’s “There is None Like You.”