There’s Good Practice and Bad Practice
What we practice, we learn. When we don’t know how to practice the right way, the right Teacher can help. My Teacher, the Lord, has had me in “contentment school” for a very long time.
I have longed for comfort, but He has given me painful, productive growth instead. Looking back, I’m glad He didn’t let me choose the comfort.
Over and over, God has provided me opportunities to lean on Him. His plan for me has had me searching the Scriptures. He has humbled me again and again, when I couldn’t do that myself. It was His way to crush me, just enough to draw me nearer to Him. What might have
looked felt like curses, were blessings.
All of the blessings felt like curses, at the time.
And isn’t that the lesson? We are conditioned to see things one way, but we might be a little short-sighted. Lately, I’m seeing this again and again: God’s way of exchanging truth for the lies we believe is simply a paradigm shift.
We were cursed, but we aren’t anymore. Jesus took the curses from the Sanhedrin and the soldiers (Matthew 27:27-44; Luke 22:65). God’s Son died a cursed death, became a cursed man (Galatians 3:13-14). And in doing so, He lifted our curse and gave us blessings instead (Romans 5:12-21).
Jesus makes all things new, including us (Rev 21:5; 2 Cor 5:17). He makes all things work for our good (Romans 8:28). And so, we must call all the things “blessings”—the hard things and the easy things—we must confess that we are abundantly blessed in every thing.
New Thoughts, New Ways
Have you heard about neural pathways? We have patterns in the way our brains work. When our thoughts take the same route over and over, it makes an impression on us. God designed us to work this way:
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).
The content of our thoughts reflects AND replenishes the content of our hearts. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Prov 4:23, NIV). Out of the overflow of our hearts, come our thoughts. At the same time, meditating on a thought can give it a foothold in your heart.
Some days, my thoughts tend to stray to bitter memories and hurtful experiences. When I do this, I am building and reinforcing those neural pathways. When I am able to find the good in those memories, I am building new pathways in my brain and heart.
We can see the same circumstance as a blessing or as a curse. But we must always keep in mind the truth: because of Jesus, we are blessed. For those who love Him, God’s goodness is always right there, in the midst of every difficulty.
Cultivating Paradigm Shifts
We need to cultivate paradigm shifts. We need to learn to see the good in everything, but it takes practice.
If you would like to know more about God’s goodness and how to find it, even when it is hard to find, please join me in Curating the Good. I have written a book that walks you through the practice of finding paradigms shifts and developing new neural pathways by learning to experience the goodness of God, every day (you can get it here, on Amazon!). For the next 4 weeks, we will be examining this practice here, on the blog. Won’t you join me? If you are reading the book, you can comment here or follow me on Instagram!