I have been meditating on a certain scripture for several weeks and so I thought I would do a series of blogs on where my thoughts have led me. The scripture is Phillipians 4;8. which says, "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellant or praiseworthy - think on such things."
For some reason the word lovely stood out to me. Whatever is lovely... What does that mean? To be lovely. Websters 1828 dictionary defines lovely as "amiable; that may excite love; pocessiong qualitiies which may invite affection." To be worthy of love, or deserving of affection is to be amiable. I am suppose to think on things that are lovely, that pocess qualities that invite affection. This is the area I struggle the most in and it is the most important area. I consider myself to be an intelligant optimist. I think that given half a chance people will treat you badly while at the same time I am always surprised when they do. Because I think this way I tend to think badly of other people. I assign motives to their behavior and interpret what they say to imply or mean things that they may not have intended. I have a hard time giving people the benefit of the doubt.
The truth is that people are just people. They say and do things that are thoughtless and hurtful, but I am to think on things that are lovely. Not on things that are ugly. If someone cuts me off in traffic the ugly reaction is one we are all familiar with. Instead I should not only be thinking but practicing the lovely. On the surface this seems to be pollyanish. Just think good thought and your life will be great. I don't think that to be true at all. All the good thoughts in the world will not change that someone just cut you off in traffic. What it changes is your own reaction to it. Instead of getting angry and feeling out of sorts I should give that person the same amount of grace that our savior gives us every second of every day.
There is another important side to controlling our thought lives so that our thougths are lovely and that involves what we put into our thought from outside influence. I know a lot of people that discount this and poo poo it as some antiquated or legalistic application of scripture. Thats not me or what I am, but I would like you to think about what you are putting into your mind. What are you feeding it? How does it affect you? Our country is suffering from an appedemic of pornography. Homes and peoples lives are being destroyed because of it. That is a perfect example of something that the world tells us is harmless to look at and think about that is in fact dangerous and ugly. What about violence in movies or television. What music do you listen to and what thoughts does it leave you with? After you watch that television show or listen to that cd do you feel better? Are you more in tune with who you are, what your goals are, and who you want to be?
I love the Tv show King of Queens. For awhile we were watching it every night and then I noticed something. I was actually showing my husband less respect and speaking to him more sarcastically. One day I actually quoted a sarcastic comment I had heard on the show and directed it right at him. That was not lovely, so I opted to stop watching it every night. I still catch it sometimes but its not as funny any more. This also made me aware that tv shows really have a low opinion of men. I can not think of a single show where the man is not stupid, lazy, a bad parent, and a terrible husband. The wife on the other hand is always right in every situation. I don't know about you but that is not the reality I live with in our house. Given that example and its prevelance in our society how many of us carry that over to our lives and homes without even being aware of it. Male bashing may be a culturally popular sport but it is not lovely.
It takes a tremendous effort to change a habit. I have to recognize when I am focused on things that are not lovely. I have to replace those thoughts with thoughts that are lovely. I have to do this over and over again until lovely thoughts are the habit.