"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Elle's tiny hands hold tight as we fly high on the swing. Every time I visit, she runs into my arms, glad to see her grandmother but more excited about the possibility of walking to the playground.
There's another playground I used to visit, one where I spent countless hours. It was the playground of my thoughts.
When someone made me angry or when conflict arose and it hurt my heart, that's where I ran to entertain 'those' thoughts. I escaped there to think about all the things I should have said. Swinging high and then low, I reminded myself of how right I was and how wrong they were. Words or situations replayed, just like a child going in circles on a merry go round.
In this playground I didn't have to deal with conflict in a healthy way, or speak the truth when it was needed. I didn't have to admit my own errors, because there I was always the hero.
One day I sensed God asking me to leave the playground. Like Elle, I wasn't ready to go. But He took me by the hand and led me away to a place of grace for those who hurt me with their words, reminding me that we all stumble.
God brought me to a place of well-being where I recognized that conflict takes place even in the healthiest of relationships.
And He guided me to a place of letting go of those things I could not change, so that I could fully embrace those that I could.
There were days I wanted to go back to my playground, but each time I saw a closed sign on the gate.
Not for you, My daughter.
Instead of hanging out in an imaginary place where I could avoid conflict and hurt, I embraced real life, with real people and real struggles. Although it took work to process hard situations, with each one I grew. It involved loving the people around me, enjoying each new day, and releasing hurtful events and people from the past.
Our Heavenly Father knows when we struggle with our thoughts. They can be a place where we work through issues with wisdom and care, or a playground where bitterness sprouts and anger is fed.
Is He taking you by the hand, like He did me so many years ago? If so, I celebrate with you. For He's leading you into growth.
My prayer is that you'll swing high in day-to-day joys of real life as a strong woman of faith.
Dear Jesus, I can spend hours in my angry thoughts, or thinking I'm the hero. Sometimes in my mind I put others in their place. That's a trap of the enemy. Today I shut the gate to the playground of unhealthy thoughts, with Your help. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness by Suzie Eller
Reflect and Respond:
What thoughts are you struggling with today?
Commit to leaving the playground of your mind. Choose a verse to meditate on, instead of negative thoughts.
1 Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me." (NIV)
Ephesians 4:26, "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger," (ESV)
© 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105