‘Twas the night before my wedding
I was about to marry the most amazing guy in the world. Within 12 hours I was going to shed my widowhood and become a wife again. My little boy was going to have a daddy.
So there I lay in the moonlight, staring up at the ceiling, thinking…
…not about my groom’s beautiful blue eyes, or the way he laughed, or our honeymoon plans…
No, I spent the night before my wedding wondering whether the naughty boy who harassed my four-year-old son at church would ruin our outdoor reception.
Scenarios played across my mind’s screen: there I’d be, galloping across the grass in my wedding gown to break up a quarrel; my son would be crying in the wedding photos; the kids’ games would degenerate into a riot… Yeah, my thoughts got pretty out of hand.
Focus, focus, focus
Now, I’ve already confessed to you my penchant for worrying. But recently I discovered I have changed. (See, there’s hope for you, too!)
It hit me when I read the apostle Paul’s instructions for finding peace. First, he said instead of worrying, pray. (Oh, and don’t forget to be thankful.)
Next, Paul tells us to focus on things that bring peace:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
In my mind, a series of instructions quickly becomes a To-Do List—or, here, a To-Think List. But as I studied each of these “whatevers,” I put on the brakes after “whatever is true.” I dove into my expository dictionary and found this definition of the word translated “true”:
“unconcealed, manifest; hence, actual, true to fact.”
Actual. True to fact. Manifest. In other words, reality.
“Whatever is true,” then, must not include:
- Speculation—guesses what someone really meant, or what they may have done in secret
- Prediction – “what if’s” (like I could tell the future!)
- Gossip—second-hand information
- Lies—either the untruths I’ve been told or the ones I’ve led myself to believe
- “If only’s”—living in a non-existent parallel universe
- Imputed motive—opinions or agendas attributed to people whose minds I cannot read
“Whatever is true” is actually made of two sets of facts:
- The real, manifest (discernible) facts about a material situation
- The real, manifest (discernible) facts about God
For me to look only at the material facts without the God facts is to ignore half of the picture. The God of the universe is at work in His universe.
The truth is that both kinds of facts together are reality.
So here’s my challenge
When I find my thoughts spiraling off toward worry, I focus on the facts. All the facts. I make two mental columns: one for the facts about the issue at hand (as I see them), the other for the facts about God that relate to the issue.
I don’t waste time dwelling on any “facts” that are really speculation, lies, gossip, imagination, or imputed motive. They’re not part of “whatever is true.”
Then, when worry comes slithering around again, I hold up the list, and remind myself of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
It’s working. Maybe you should try it, too. It might spare you a lot of sleepless nights.
About that naughty little boy
You know, the one I thought would ruin my wedding?
He didn’t come.