Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A New Place to Dwell

As my sister-in-law was reading a book to my girls, she came across the line "Don't dwell on it." Crislynn stopped her and said, "What does 'dwell' mean?" Brittlea, my eight-year-old (at the time), piped up, "It's where you live." At first we thought her definition didn't fit the context of the sentence, but the more we considered it, we realized it fit perfectly.

Sometimes my kids will confess things they are thinking if they feel guilty for their thoughts. I tell them that just because they have a bad thought or idea doesn't mean they have sinned. Just as we don't intend to let a fly into our house, thoughts can loom at the door of our minds and enter without invitation. It's when we don't do anything to rid ourselves of the pesky thought that it becomes sin.

I believed my kids were the ones who needed to hear this advice as they struggled with thoughts that made them feel guilty. However, as Laurie and I talked one day, she said, "Sharon, we're doing the same thing. We're beating ourselves up for things we think. Maybe I am about to blow up inside, making me feel guilty, but when I don't blow up I'm exercising self-control--and that's something I can feel good about."

As moms, it's easy for us to be hard on ourselves, feeling guilty for things that were only thoughts. But we need to remember something: If we didn't stop there, unload, and hang pictures on the wall, we haven't done anything wrong. It's when we dwell there that we run into problems.

In 2 Corinthians 10:5 it says, "We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." That's how we fight the tendency to dwell on things that take our eyes off of the Lord. When the thoughts come, take them to the Lord and get rid of the ones that don't match His character.

If you are dwelling on something you said to your kids (maybe you jumped all over them for swinging and bruising the grocery bag full of fresh fruit), ask forgiveness from God and your kids--then move on. When you feel guilty for your harsh words again, don't start building a house around that thought; rather, shoo it out the door of your mind because you have been forgiven.

If you are having silent conversations with your husband because he left his clothes out again, take that thought captive, and tear down the walls that have started going up by praying for him as you put the lost clothes where they belong. If you're feeling guilty for the actions of your children (such as when they fuss about anything and everything), pray for them and discipline when you need to, but remember: We are all responsible for our own actions, not the actions of others (including our children).

Where have you been dwelling today? Where will you live for the rest of today! The good news is, you have a choice. When those thoughts sneak into your mind, take them captive. don't dwell there. No one wants to live in that neighborhood!

Lord, You know the thoughts that are common to my mind. Help me to not feel guilty for things I think that I immediately push out of my thoughts. And help me identify those things that I am dwelling on that have already begun to build walls--walls that need to be torn down. One day spent in Your house beats thousands spent elsewhere. I'd rather scrub floors in the house of my God than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin (Psalm 84:10). Open my eyes when I'm living somewhere other than with You. How lovely is Your dwelling place! Dwelling on You, in Jesus' Name, amen.

from Sharon and Laurie's book Hold You, Mommy.

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