Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Digging for Absolute Truth

I am a big podcast fan. That might be because I'm an auditory learner. It might be because I like to engage my mind while I cheerfully wash dishes, sweep the floor, and work out like a fitness diva. (I'm not saying that it IS, only that it might be.) It might be because I like to play Candy Crush while I lay in bed sipping on hot tea. (I'm not saying that it IS, only that it might be.) Anywho... having exhausted the current offerings from the CiRCE Institute, I've recently discovered Julie Bogart's Brave Writer podcast.

All that backstory is to explain why I'm writing about a podcast three years after it was produced. Timely, I am not.

In 2012, Bogart interviewed Melissa Wiley, author of several children's novels. In the interview, Wiley said something that really hit home for me. I'm paraphrasing here, but essentially she says that on the internet, we tell the truth—the absolute truth—but not necessarily the whole truth. Online, there are obvious reasons for this, primarily discretion and privacy. But what about in my head?

Sometimes, I say awful things in my brain, things that flat-out aren't true. Like most parents, I am my own biggest critic, and it can get ugly up there in my head. Most of the time, though, what I say in my head is true but not the whole truth. My kitchen is a mess. Truth. I could go right now and sweep and mop and clear off the counters and scrub them down with bleach until they gleam like the sun. Truth.  Or I could teach my kids, take the time to laugh at Tiger's latest ridiculous joke, say YES to "...just one. more. chapter. PLEEEEEAAASE!!" and give myself a moment of relaxation so that I can retain the last vestige of sanity desperately clinging on in my Mom Brain. Absolute truth. We had four awful hours spent over a math lesson today. Truth. (Also, not my proudest moment. Those times when you realize that you have locked yourself into a battle of wills and don't know how to back out now... those are not good times. And that's about all I have to say about that.) Before those four hours, however, we had a delightful read aloud time in the morning. After those four hours, we spent the afternoon at the library (where that same stubborn kid sat and read picture books to her little sister for nearly an hour). Everyone came home with new books, and then we munched pizza and read past our bedtimes. Most of our day was great. Absolute truth.

I know this is not a new thought, but it keeps coming at me from different directions. What I choose to think about dictates my attitude, my reactions, the way our day plays out, and how I interpret that day when I'm lying in bed at night. I look past the facts of what happened and attribute motivations and meaning. It starts and ends in my head. When I assume the best about my kids, I react with more kindness. When I review our day in my head and cement those memories, I can choose to fixate on the rough spots or I can choose to zoom in on the laughter, the silliness, the "ah ha" moments, the chocolately kisses, the victory in Tempest's voice when she finally slammed that math book shut and called it FINISHED, the image of Tempest and Tiger curled up in a chair with their heads bent over a book together.

There is a part of me that wants to keep my mind private. I want to lay claim over it as all my own, free to think what I like without answering to anyone. The thing is, that's not truth—not absolute truth, not partial truth, not any truth. There is the spiritual fact that all of me belongs to Jesus: my feelings, my thoughts, my expectations, my actions... ALL of it. But there is also the practical fact. My actions flow out of my thoughts. Those actions determine the quality of people's lives: not just my own, but the lives of my kids, my husband, and even—to a lesser extent—the people I come into contact with. There is no such thing as "private." Some thoughts come and go, but I others take up permanent residence. It's not that I can't ever visit the Land of Dour. I just can't build a house and move there. The thoughts that I give room to form who I am. Who I am inside will come out, no matter how much I try to pretty-up my outsides. For good or ill, it will affect the people around me. That makes it vital for me to protect my mind, to choose joy and truth and hope.

I hear it. I see that it is truth. Now I get to try to live it out. That is when I discover that these are the things I cannot do on my own. I cling to the strength of the Holy Spirit in this moment by moment quest to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Cor 10:5) So, once again I choose hope and I try again. I choose to focus on the books and the love and the laughter and the brownies. Moment by moment, right?

Someone tell me that I'm not the only mama struggling with this. (Please?!) What do you do to protect your thought life? How do you make sure that you don't get so caught up in truths that you miss the Absolute Truth?