It was like the OMNICROM variant of attitudes. I'm serious. Don't think that I'm trying to be flippant about COVID when I say this. Adela's attitude was contagious and deadly.
It was a school morning. I had let the girls sleep to the last possible second, but I had to get them up and ready for school. I turned on the hall lights so that illumination could enter their sleepy cave without assaulting their eyes. Adela rolled over in her bed and grabbed a pillow to slam over her head.
Then the onslaught began.
Adela groaned, "Why do I have to go to school? I just want school to be over. I wish it was the weekend. I don't want to get up. I'm tired. Why can't I just stay home?" With every word she spoke I felt my own attitude slipping. My pleasant demeaner and smile were a flimsy façade growing more delicate be the second.
By day two, Micaela had caught "it", too. "No!" she yelled when I approached her bed. "I want to stay in bed. I want to sleep."
By day three, my alarm went off and I laid in bed, staring at the ceiling.
The next week followed the same cycle. Then, Thursday rolled around and as Adela spewed words of dismay and anger, I realized what was going on.
I gasped and told her, "Stop. Adela. I know that you don't want to go to school. That is your choice to feel that way, but I want you to stop talking about it. It isn't helping anybody else."
Adela stared at me. I had broken one of our home's cardinal rules. I have always said that we are allowed to express our thoughts and feelings as long as we are kind and respectful to others. But, then I realized that she was breaking the rules, too.
I took a deep breath, "Adela, everything you are saying is making it hard for Micaela and I to have good thoughts about school. It is your choice to think that way and let yourself feel that way. But it is unkind to spread it to us."
Thoughts are contagious. She blinked and the lightbulb came on for both of us.
Thoughts. They are a two-way contamination system. I can spread attitudes to others and I can catch them from others, too. I can work very hard on using good thought-hygiene but if I'm constantly exposing myself to harmful attitudes, eventually, something is going to take-root in me.
That day I learned a powerful lesson. My own determination to think good thoughts and believe admirable truths, needs to be coupled with taking action to limit my exposure to harmful attitudes when I am able. Maybe that is only chatting to certain friends on days I'm feeling weaker, or, in this case, honestly telling my little love that I was being harmed by her onslaught of negativity.
I would like to be stronger than this. I would like to be spiritually mature enough to stand in any storm with my mind and heart unharmed. But, this day I know my limitations are real and that is okay. God is still growing me. My mind needs protection and safeguarding, too.
The prudent see danger and take refuge,
What role are you playing in the thought contamination process? What attitudes do you find yourself spreading? What beliefs do you regularly expose yourself to?
When I was going to college, my older brother and I shared an apartment. He still likes to put a big 'ole grin on his handsome face and tell his friends, "If I came home and my sister was cleaning, I went and hid in my room. It always meant she'd had a bad day. It wasn't safe to come out until she had finished."
I never put too much thought into this tendency of mine. I just brushed it off that things felt better when they were clean and organized. However, the other day I was scrolling Pinterest (because that is important ;) ) and I found this:
Okay, if you haven't read The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, you need to buy, borrow, listen to it now. I'm not kidding. It is written by a Christian family counselor and it has helped me so much to love others better. You can also take the quiz here: https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/love-language and that will get you started.
However, I had never considered that those love languages could help me love myself better, too. And, wow, the "Acts of Service" section of the self-love image hit the nail on the head. I love planning, organizing, cleaning, etc. When I do those things, I feel relaxed and fulfilled. I didn't realize that it was self-love mostly because often if I tell people that those things are fun for me, they just think I'm a little loopy.
I had to blog about this. I do believe we are supposed to be intentional about caring for ourselves. Goodness, even Jesus did things to refill such as eating with friends, going away to quiet places and praying, and spending time with children. What blew my mind, however, was that we are unique creatures and what is self-love for one person is simply a chore for someone else.
So, go through this image and be intentional about loving yourself. What I love, is that so many of the things on this list are kind and healthy things to do PERIOD.
Oh, God, please bless the kind person who created this and posted it on Pinterest. I think we are often unaware of the lives we touch with our commitment to share love and truth to others.
What feels like self-love to you?
I got off that coaching call and clutched my hand to my chest. I was smiling from the inside out and marveling at how I could pour so much out on another soul and feel so alive and full of God's Spirit.
The best way I could describe it, is that my soul was singing.
This is the sweetest thing about coaching: I get to sit with one of my sisters in Christ, listen to her story and then help her find the next steps for her life. I love it. Not only do I have the privilege to watch these sweet women grow and learn, I get to learn too. Every problem followed with God's solutions teaches me.
There are other things that make my soul sing. I feel this way when I lay my expectations for my children down and simply enjoy their presence. I feel this way when I write these blogs. I feel this way when I serve my husband. I feel this way when I join the worship team at church.
I have noticed that many women whom I coach haven't found what makes their souls sing. I understand this. Our culture has not encouraged the process it takes to find this depth. It takes practice and courage and consistency. It takes staying with and serving our church instead of "jumping ship" the moment we are unsatisfied. It means staying in relationships. It means developing skills. It mean having the courage to put ourselves at risk of failure or embarrassment. All the things I listed that make my soul sing, are all things that I've had to stick with and allow to mature and grow within me.
I have a cousin in Arizona with a gift for photography. She has a natural love and knack for this activity, but I have noticed that what used to be simply a fun thing to do, has turned into art. She connects with families, captures moments, and leaves her customers with a gift they can treasure for decades to come. When I listen to her talk about her little side business, I can hear her soul sing. It gives me goosebumps and makes tears come to my eyes. I breathe a thankful sigh that someone I love so much found what connects her to God's plan and purpose for her life.
She didn't' reach this point by simply having a talent, either. She has practiced. She has acquired skills. She has poured hours into developing techniques, taking chances, and learning from setbacks.
You, whoever you are reading this, my love, are precious. There is something beautiful inside you that God created you for. Probably more than one thing. It could be teaching, listening, healing, creating, organizing, hugging...goodness this list just goes on. I don't want you to give up on whatever it is because it gets hard or costs time and effort and courage. Don't "jump ship" on those around you. Give your soul a chance to sing as we worship Him with our unique gifts.
Have you found what makes your soul sing?
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"...and God was already there with me."