I just returned from a long weekend on the east coast where I traveled to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. When I’m asked how it went, I struggle with exactly what to say. Like many situations in life, it was a mixture of highs and lows, a blend of happiness and disappointment. There were some very enjoyable moments and some really stressful ones. But what I choose to focus on is how I’m going to tell the story. If I’m looking for good in my weekend, I will recount God’s faithfulness and protection. However, I could also tell you about the stressful, tiring, and even scary aspects of my trip. It’s all about what I choose to highlight, to rehearse, to ponder.
The party itself was great. My folks were pleased with the turnout and the fellowship. There were a variety of relatives and friends present and I was even introduced to some I’d not previously met. I had some fun conversations with cousins and the hope of contact in the future. Over the weekend I enjoyed lunch with one relative I don’t see often and dinner with other dear friends. My parents were appreciative that I had made the trip and said kind things.
But I also did lots of driving. I traveled hundreds of miles, over three states. I will never choose to drive if I don’t have to, and Newark airport is not my favorite! And then the weather turned bad. I know how to drive in ice and snow, but it’s not fun on country roads in unfamiliar territory. I spent an entire afternoon lost and frustrated and scared. At one point, my little rental car started sliding backwards on a steep road and I was forced to quickly turn around! I finally had to abandon my plan to visit friends and checked into a hotel instead.
This is part of the process we call developing the transformed mind.
Romans 12:2 says:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Elsewhere we’re told to be thankful in all circumstances (I Thessalonians 5:18) and not to grumble or complain (Philippians 2:14). This is part of the formula of the transformed mind, as well as taking control of our thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5).
When I’m looking for the good in my circumstances, I am more easily prompted to worship and thankfulness. When I focus on the negative things, I am more tempted to complain or indulge in self-pity. Which attitude is more pleasing to our loving Father? Obviously when I am looking for the good gifts He gives us.
And God gave me many good gifts over the weekend.
Instead of complaining about all the driving I did, I want to be thankful for how the Lord protected me over those many miles and in that weather. I’m thankful for God’s presence on that little country road and that I didn’t slide into a ditch or get stuck. I’m grateful that there was a nice hotel available when I gave up. I was snug and warm in a hotel room before darkness fell. I appreciate my parents’ kindness and the fact that I was able to meet relatives and visit with some dear friends. Even the fact that I was able to make the trip at all is a blessing!
But will I apply this practice to other areas, such as my job, my marriage, my friendships? Will I look for the good in those or will I look for reasons to complain?
Lord, help me to develop more and more the habits of gratefulness and the transformed mind.