Smile, God loves you: A brighter view
Reaching over Mom's empty cup, the smell of coffee poured from the carafe as I gave her a warm-up.
"Thank you," she said. "The chill in the air has gone to my bones. Coffee helps."
She was right about the chill – and the coffee. I felt it as well. Even though the thermostat was set at a comfortable number, the trilling wind and hazy skies persuaded the mind to tell the body that it was cold. I shivered as I picked up my cup and took a long sip.
"Funny how that is – how we can look out the window at the weather and a mental and physical change comes over us. Tangibly we are untouched by the elements, and yet, here we are… changed, even uncomfortable."
Mom gave a slight nod in the direction of the Bible on my kitchen table. "Same with most anything. What we put our mind upon impacts our thinking and our actions."
I told myself I would take notice of my focus for the remainder of the week. No matter what happened I determined to do my best to maintain a brighter view; to make my praise drown out my complaints. If a day emerged with more troubles than triumphs, I focused even harder on the One who created the skies and gave thanks for the opportunity to rise in love again with tomorrow's sun.
This is what I discovered at the end of the week: You can tell yourself you are a positive person, but when you really take strict inventory of your thoughts, the tally may reveal something you did not expect – something humbling. I had gotten into the habit of entertaining a pattern of worry that benefitted no one, including myself and my relationship with God. I labeled this pattern "negative value" thinking, and I was determined to increase my thoughts' value.
God gave me a mind and body to fill with value and to treat as valuable. Do I?
I can do better. I will do better.
As the weeks turned into months, I noticed a slow change in the weather. Better put, I noticed a change in how the weather affected me. And as I took hold of the daily practice of being intentional in my focus, I discovered I used my time and energy more wisely. I was more grounded, not in the world, but in the Word. My value and worth were renewed. I was transformed by intentional loving and daily grace. Yet, I knew my transformation would not be complete until my residence changed to Heaven. Until then, I struggle and need day-to-day grace.
A little over six months ago, a woman began occasionally crossing my path. I noticed after a few interactions that she brought me quick to annoyance and slow to acceptance. My lack of trust for her was only equal to my lack of respect for her. Just thinking of her stiffened my muscles and hardened my heart. What had she done to me? Nothing of serious consequence. And yet, I allowed her to alter the temperature within my personal space any time she was near. She was not spectacularly unpleasant – she was simply unpleasant to me, either by her remarks or my interpretation of them.
It is rare to have someone aggravate me to my bones but warning bells sounded like weather alarms anytime she appeared. I kept conversations with her civil and short. Even still, I noticed after time spent with her, I extended it tenfold in my mind by being irritated. A ridiculous confession, I know, and one I am embarrassed to admit.
Sometimes you do not know how far you have come until you have an epiphany of sorts and realize you have been healing – healing along the way. You have cultivated "positive value" thinking and manifested these thoughts into positive living. Nothing remarkable might be happening. You could be folding laundry or driving down the road and realize you are no longer captive of a certain turmoil, a specific worry, or a particular person. It may have taken days, weeks, or even years to arrive at this "sudden" moment. But when this moment dawns, a subtle but noticeable change positions you higher – higher to see and receive a tranquil clarity and energy which makes you want to continue to take better care of yourself and your thoughts. It is a beautiful, freeing feeling - a feeling I experienced recently with the woman who occasionally crosses my path.
God answered my prayer. Not in the way I anticipated, but He answered.
He did not change the woman's behavior towards me or the circumstance which occasionally brings us together, but God did change me. My muscles did not tense, nor did my heart harden in her presence. Almost to my surprise, I found myself giving her authentic grace rather than sterilized politeness. I still kept our time together brief, but when I left her, I left her in the hands of God rather than in my extended thinking. I told myself she and I would both be better off there, and His hands are big enough for us all.
The following morning I made myself a pot of coffee and looked out the window to a cold and rainy day. I shivered as I picked up my cup and took a long sip. Then I began to alter the temperature of my day by opening the Word.
SGLY, dear reader.
(Smile, God Loves You.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.