Monday, April 30, 2012

Mindful Monday: Tangled Noodles

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here. Oh and just a fair warning, I jump around a lot in my mind.  It may seem random, but that's just how my mind works.

What's on my mind today? Everything. And nothing.  Do you ever wish your mind had a switch and you could just turn it off and on?  Maybe guys are better at this than girls, I don't know.  Since this analogy is food related I'll go ahead and share it with you.  I once heard a speaker say that the female mind is like a plate of spaghetti, complicated but worth unraveling (his words, not mine).  All the thoughts are tangled and connected like noodles.  He then compared the male mind to a waffle.  Thoughts are compartmentalized into individual little boxes like the grid on a waffle.  Males move from box to box and think about one thing at a time while females are constantly thinking one long tangled thought.  Apparently guys even have boxes that are empty with no thoughts whatsoever.  So when a guy says "nothing" in response to "what are you thinking?", they really do mean nothing.  Some days I wish my brain was like that. It's not. At all. Not even close. As evidenced by my wordy posts and the fact that I'm now going to switch topics. (guys, that was your cue that we are about to move to another box)  No wait, I do have a little more connected to this noodle.  The first thought being that this paragraph might fit better under "Thursday's Thoughts". (And the second being that I often use parentheses to share side thoughts so I don't get super off track.) (Oh, and this chart pretty much sums it all up, a picture worth waaay more than a thousand words.)

When there's so much on my mind that I can't untangle it I need to take a step back.  When I don't want to think at all it is often the case that I'm avoiding a certain topic that I really should just work out and be done with.  Over the past few months my mind often goes back to "what's the next step? God, what do I do next and how do I know it's what you want and not just what I want?".  I know from experience that it's better to do it God's way the first time.  As much as I want to do it my own way, that's just not going to work.  I can't see the whole picture and He can.  Doing things my way instead of His just makes everything so much harder.  But how do I know the difference?  How do I tell if it's God telling me to do something or just my own jumbled thoughts?

As I continued to ask God for direction and felt like I wasn't getting much response, I realized that maybe the problem had less to do with his response and more to do with my listening.  I was waiting to hear something really loud but not necessarily actively listening.  (yes, there is a difference between hearing and listening)  I had to break everything down to the very basics.  If I'm asking through prayer then how do I listen?  Sure God can place thoughts in my head, but my thoughts are also influenced by everything else around me.  Like I mentioned last Thursday what the world has to say isn't always true.  It may have some truth to it, but not necessarily.  Where do I go to find absolute truth that hasn't been diluted or twisted? The Bible.  How do I listen for answers directly from God?  Read the Bible.  It's all there, everything I need to know, all the answers to what really matters.  He even wrote them down for me.

I won't find a verse telling me to move to x city and take x job.  But I will find guidance on living life and what is most important.  As I make those things a priority the other details of my life will fall into place as well.  As I break things down to the basics I get answers, but those answers often lead to more questions.  While this can be frustrating it does push me to keep asking and searching.   It looks something like this;  Q: "What am I supposed to do?"  A: obey God.  Q: "How do I obey God?"  A: Love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-39)  Q: "How do I do that and what exactly is love?"  A: (I can't answer this in a single post, that would take a lifetime, but I will probably write a little about it some other day)  Anyway, you see the process, it requires me to dig deeper and search for answers.  Sometimes those answers come in unexpected ways.  For example there was a guest speaker at the church I went to last week and the topic was loving God and loving others.  He talked about love being an action and a choice, not just a feeling.  (Again, maybe something I'll write about later).  Sometimes God uses the lyrics of a song or words of a friend to remind me of His truth or maybe a certain verse just comes to mind.  Other times finding answers means looking them up in the Bible for yourself.

If I ask for wisdom, guidance and direction what better place to find answers than Proverbs. Actually there's so much  wisdom packed in there it's hard to sort it all out.  Once again I find it helpful to break it down.  Conveniently, Proverbs has 31 chapters and there are 30 or 31 days to each month.  That means reading one chapter a day.  The chapters are short so its very doable.  Well, at least the reading part is, the doing part is going to take a lot more practice. While reading about wisdom is a great place to start, I need to actually practice it for it to apply.

So that's where I'm at for right now.  Each month when the chapters repeat I continue to see something from a different perspective and learn something new.  If you want to join me go ahead and give it a try. I'd love to bounce ideas back and forth and hear what you're learning too.  I think you'll actually be surprised at some of the stuff that's in there.  There's even quite a few verses about food.  Sometimes I read a verse and think "what!? that's in the Bible!".  I've read it all before, but as I've experienced more life I find I'm able to relate to more of it or at least see it from a different perspective.  Perhaps it has something to do with listening instead of just hearing.

Come back tomorrow for some food learning, I discovered something fun.  Not as important in the long run but interesting none the less.

Food for thought: "Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right." - Henry Ford

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