Often I have Normal-Brain with normal thoughts enjoying a normal day. But then there’s Thorn-in-my-Side-Brain. She shows up unannounced, uninvited and always overstays her welcome. Let me tell you how Thorn-in-my-Side-Brain thinks:
Enter any difficult situation with my child and Thorn-in-my-Side-Brain reminds me of how ill-equipped I am at parenting. She confirms my child will never come home for Christmas in adulthood. He’s ruined. Thorn-in-my-Side-Brain also points out all the other moms and their kids who have it together better than us. I only need to open Instagram to see the pictures.
She reminds me of commitments but only after it’s too late. (As I’m dropping my 11-year-old son off at school, “Why is your crossing guard partner out this morning? Oh wait, you’re suppose to be out there too!”) Then berates me for forgetting and reminds me how simple it is to actually use the calendar on my phone.
She nudges me to fly off the handle – and so I do – then instantly cues guilt. Awesome.
Thorn-in-my-Side-Brain reminds me I’m not “in the know.” My friend whose kid is brilliant in chess? She’s got it going on. Because, the future’s in chess. My kids won’t be smart because I’m not signing them up for the right activities. Checkmate. I lost.
Thorn-in-my-Side-Brain reminds me I can’t do everything, but in a mean way. I’m at a friend’s home who’s gifted at maintaining a spotless space. Always. And she HAS kids. And she works full time. I won’t feel jealous…I won’t feel jealous…then here it comes…jealousy.
Or I put on jeans that fit a year ago and I can’t button them. Thorn-in-my-Side-Brain is unkind. She urges me to give up my lattes. (Slow motion: No!) She criticizes me for not exercising more and eating better. Then, ten minutes later she tells me it’s okay to steal Halloween candy from my kids’ bags. (Pick a lane, woman.)
Thorn-in-my-Side-Brain comes for everyone; life is tricky and weird and does that to us. But, I don’t know that all hope is lost.
Maybe – just maybe – we can make Thorn-in-my-Side-Brain work FOR US instead of AGAINST US.
When thoughts dish out negative, we can remind ourselves there’s another voice waiting to speak positive. We can see it as an invitation – a guilt-free, I-clearly-need-a-moment-for-me-because-of-all-this-negativity invitation – to create space to hear the encouraging voice. We let God nudge our heart: My dear child, let’s spend time together. Let’s visit what’s bothering you. Let me remind you how big and sovereign, yet intimately intentional I am in your life. Know how loved, loved, loved you are. I created you with purpose; your unique contributions to this world are irreplaceable. I will use them to share my hope. Can I remind you I’m always here, walking before you, behind you and beside you?
And then WITHOUT GUILT, we can accept this invitation. We can pause hectic life and do something soul-filling, reconnecting us to our Creator. Whatever that looks like to you. For me, lately, it’s been making space daily to read scripture, think, pray and write. Sometimes it’s a reflective walk (bonus if it’s through pretty nature), leisurely reading Christian authors, or hanging out with uplifting, faith-filled friends. Then in these refueling moments, I do my best to be fully present and let God’s truths sink in. As we focus on our Creator, we refocus on the important things – which is not my pants size or punctuality. (The lattes, on the other hand…)
Thorn-in-my-Side-Brain doesn’t like this reflective practice. It takes up space in my mind she’d rather occupy.
But she’s going to have to deal, because God’s voice in my life draws out my happiness. And happiness is always invited.