I recently met with a woman who felt she was a failure as a wife and mother. Her husband had left her for a younger woman and was in the process of divorcing her. Her son, who had just started college, was making some poor choices and she feared the consequences. To top it all off, she was going to be the first in her family to get a divorce. She was very distraught feeling that ALL of this was her fault. She called herself a pathetic loser!
It broke my heart to hear how low she was feeling. I shared with her that the voice in our heads is the most powerful voice we all listen to, but it often speaks lies to us. Philippians 4:8-9 tells us,
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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I challenged her that when her feelings begin to rail out of control, to take hold of this verse and run each of the statements honestly through her circumstances.
Whatever is true: The truth is, she had not always been the perfect wife and mother (who has?). It was true that she had said and done things at times that were not the best. But it was also true that she had supported and sacrificed for her husband and family in very loving ways. Her good efforts and energy towards her family far outweighed the negative. The truth is that her husband and son are responsible for their own choices good or poor.
Whatever is noble: The noble thing is not to get ugly or vindictive through the divorce. She should always speak well of her husband around her son. He will always be her son’s father.
Whatever is right: In the particular situation with her son, it is right to let natural circumstances prevail. It is right for her not to rescue him, but to be there to love him.
Whatever is pure: The pure thing to do is not to date anyone else while she is going through the divorce even though she is lonely.
Whatever is lovely: The lovely thing to do is to connect with other believers through Bible study, small group, or in doing something for ministry.
Whatever is admirable, excellent or praiseworthy think about such things: The admirable, excellent, praiseworthy thing to do is to dive into a deeper relationship with the Lord and spend special time in His Word and in prayer.
None of us is perfect as a spouse, nor are we married to a perfect spouse. When our thoughts become consumed with negative feelings, we become useless in glorifying God with our lives. The joy that God wants us to have in the midst of any circumstance is robbed from us. I hope you will use this little exercise to bring your thoughts captive so that you can do the Kingdom work God has prepared for you and can live out the full joy God wants for you.
The verse that proceeds the verse quoted above was penned while the Apostle Paul was in prison. He wrote:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:4-7
We serve such an amazing God. May His peace and joy be with you always!