Author: Lindsay Danielson
Isn’t a happy and successful life what we all want? Doesn’t it seem that when we are in the intense parts of our story that our minds and hearts long for the joy of “easy street”? Life throws us a lot of curve balls, whether they come in the form of job losses, parenting dilemmas, or other problems that we never thought we would face. Sometimes, it just feels easier to throw in the towel. It is often difficult to keep a hopeful mindset amidst struggle. We want to believe that one plus one always equals two, but we know that is it doesn’t always work out that way.
Pregnancy and birth - is there anything more vulnerable?! As I look back at the pregnancy and birth of my son, I can see what a pivotal moment it was in my life. The week my son was born was one of the most physically and mentally challenging weeks I have experienced in my life. Regular doctor visits turned into emergency room visits, and then my body become allergic to itself. Wait, is that even a thing? Yes, I can attest it is a real thing. Next came several failed attempts at induction. At last, my baby boy finally entered the world, healthy and full of promise.
That was more than enough drama for me, but the excitement just kept rolling in. A couple of days later, I decided to take little Liam on his first Target shopping trip. My husband had returned to work a couple of hours beforehand, and this first-time mom needed a little Target therapy! I got Liam all strapped up in his little infant car seat, turned on the ignition, and a made it a total of ten feet before my car completely broke down in my driveway! I had come to the absolute end of myself.
Why is this story relevant? Let me tell you. As I remember these moments - the way I felt and the confusion of the situation - the stress all seemed so absolute. It seemed I would always be under a cloud. Now here I am, three years later. I’m sitting at my dining room table, I have a reliable vehicle in the driveway, Liam is fast asleep in his “big boy” bed, and I feel at peace. I now understand that although there is disparity mixed in with these memories, these trials were just strokes in the big picture of my life. I want you to imagine yourself as an artist. Let’s say Picasso. Or Monet. Or Van Gogh. You pick! When you are in the middle of your masterpiece, you are the only one who has the vision for what it will become. You are the only one who can truly know what the painting will look like when it is complete. Other people may comment that the painting doesn’t quite look right while you are painting it, but you know that you are following the right steps to complete the painting according to your vision.
God is a masterful artist, and He alone can carry you through to the end. Sometimes all we can see in His creation is the incomplete portrait being created. We must trust in Him, knowing that He will always come through for us. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
In the midst of overwhelming moments, I try to stop and consider how can I align my perspective with God’s perspective. I pour myself into helping other people, trying to focus less on my problems and more on leaning into what God’s perfect plan might be. In the famous words of the incredibly wise theologian Anna (from the hit Disney film, Frozen), “Just do then next right thing.” I’m hopeful knowing that God will always come through for me, and I know He has my best interest in mind.
Dr. Caroline Leaf states, “Thoughts are real, physical things that occupy mental real estate. Moment by moment, every day, you are changing the structure of your brain through your thinking. When we hope, it is an activity of the mind that changes the structure of our brain in a positive and normal direction.” Wow... that is powerful! The idea that thoughts have such an ability to create and alternatively destroy either positive or negative patterns of behavior is remarkable.
Now, here’s a test. What are you thinking about right now? Seriously, what are your thoughts telling you to feel this very second? Are you angry at your boss for not giving you the promotion? Are you upset that your partner has not acknowledged the freshly cleaned sheets on the bed? Has your kiddo forgotten to tell you they have to go potty on the big boy toilet yet again...? (Maybe that last one is just for me.) Let’s make a commitment to ourselves to start acknowledging our thoughts and taking them captive! Let’s control our thoughts rather than letting them control us.
You might be thinking, “I know. I trust God and believe what He says, but maybe He didn’t see this mistake when He created me. I can’t be the person who takes my thoughts captive all the time. I’m not that perfect.” STOP. Don’t let those lies root any deeper in your heart. Don’t give in to that facade. Instead, let’s renew our minds! Let’s revive our hope! Let’s believe God’s Word, knowing that He is always fighting for us, and He always will.
Prayer: Give us your perspective today, God! You are the author and the finisher of our faith. Thank you for your intentionality as your refine us and make us look more like Jesus. We are your masterpiece, and we trust you with the work you are doing in our lives. You always finish what you started! Amen.
The Anchor: Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.