The Bible As a Basis for Good Mental Health
I heard this analogy from Pastor James MacDonald, Senior Pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel in Elgin, Illinois: Our lives are like a television set, with three channels. Channel 1 is about our past. Channel 2 is the present, and Channel 3 will be about our future.
Channel 1 isn't all that interesting . . . (Spoiler Alert: You know how all the shows end!) They're all re-runs! You've seen these shows before. And if you're watching those, you'll miss the new "season premier" shows! (They are on Channel 2 right now.) Channel 3 doesn't come in very clearly, no matter how much time you spend trying to tune it in. Even if you have "rabbit ears," a special antenna, 127 ft. of wire, and a whole roll of tin foil, you can't get it to come in. You could stand on one leg with one arm out the window and bark like a dog, but the future channel is still fuzzy, or pixelated, at best. Channel 2 is the channel we need to be watching. It's what's happening right now. It's the "NEWS" of our lives!
One way I help myself "stay in the moment," is with my calendar. I start with an "everybody-gives-them-out-free" calendar, so I can note things in the little boxes, but then I supplement that with a more in-depth strategy to account for my time. Nothing fancy, or technical.
I use a simple notebook, where each day has one page. Each line on that page represents a time period. So, starting from the top, in the left-hand margin, I write in the hours. I usually start with 6, 7, and 8 on the first three lines (because not that much happens that early for me :), then I give a couple of lines (2-3 maybe) to each of the hours that follow. Spacing the numbers out this way, the bottom of the page ends up about 10p.
About two-thirds of the way over from the left, I draw a vertical line to divide the page. I label this area: "Choices and Opportunities." That's where I list what's happening that day: a concert, party, family get-together, and other scheduled events and activities. I also add other things I might like to do: visit a friend, clean (I said "might"), take my granddaughter to the museum, shop, writing . . . stuff like that.
Back to that left side of the page, I draw a box to fill in sections of time for things I'm "Scheduled to Do," like work, doctor appointments, meetings, classes. (Sometimes I fill in "Watch ABC News" at the 5:30 time slot. I don't have to tune in then, it's an opportunity . . .to see David Muir. He's one of my favorite newscasters :)
Ok, so once the obligations are filled in, I can see where I have time available for what I could do--the choices I can make--so I can take advantage of the opportunities I have! Even if there's nothing scheduled on a specific date, I'll sometimes list "take on-line class," "meditate," "research xyz," . . . reminders that there are always specific ways to use my time before it slips away.
It has occurred to me that nowhere in the "Choices & Opportunities" column do I list, "Worry," "Be Angry About," "Cry over hurt feelings," or "Make Up Speeches in my Head." But I do. I have never scheduled, "Spend a half-hour trying to decide what to wear," or "Avoid bill-paying," or "Ignore healthy eating guidelines." But I have.
It helps to tell myself in advance how I'm going to spend the time I've been given. By reviewing my notebook throughout the day, I can re-focus on what I should be doing now! (along with some healthy optimism for things to look forward to.)
And do I look back on those pages past? Not really. Maybe here and there, noting what I've accomplished, but hardly ever. No, I'm moving forward . . . and the information on the upcoming pages is way more interesting and exciting! I've heard it said that that's why our windshield is so much larger than our rear-view mirror. We have to be able to see where we are going! No one would drive around in reverse, depending on their rear-view mirror for assistance. (Mine's defective.)
I've adopted this mantra: "THIS is the day that the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in IT!" (Psalm 118:24; emphasis mine).
All of this writing in my calendar book . . .it's really a lot of "self-talk." Talk that shapes my actions. Actions speak louder than words, but however you say it . . . A Voice Carries.
I honestly wrote a wonderful (in my humble opinion) message for today. It's actually saved in my drafts. I clicked on "drafts," and, well . . . there were three, each saved at different times. . . in the wee hours of the morning, (so the message would be here right away this morning!) and one saved today. What? (I didn't write anything today.) So, I clicked on one, and apparently that "X" deletes it. And somehow, I created a new draft, which had nothing in it, so when I went to it . . . I need help! So, if you see this message, please be patient with me whilst I (get help to) figure this stuff out.
People often say, "Play with it!" when you are learning something new. Just play . . . try different things, and see what happens! In my world, playing is something I do for fun!
Taking my granddaughter swimming tonight . . ."Fun!" Waiting for the ice-cold shower to warm up. . . "Not Fun!" (I just play around with the hot and cold knobs . . .) Enjoying the company and luscious desserts with family yesterday . . ."Fun!" Exercising and starving for three weeks to get rid of all that . . . "Not Fun!" (I mean getting rid of the excess calories . . .not the family. . . because they are Fun! (and they are supposed to be reading this, which is supposed to be "Fun!" for them.)
Using logical (or illogical) reasoning to figure out a website . . . "NOT Fun!"
( I also have to figure out how to get that title up there LARGER! It says HELP! ) So I am going to visit my friend Christa, who helped me initially. I'll call her and see if we can have a play date. (That should be fun.)
Over the past few weeks, we've had quite a few days of "spring-like" weather. The temperatures were higher, the sun warmer, and spirits brighter. We know Spring is coming; there are forces in motion that will now turn our part of Earth closer to the sun's rays. Indeed, Monday, March 21st, 2016 heralded the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
But just two days later, snow was predicted, and lots of it! We saw radar and satellite maps, and read the taglines on the TV screen: "WINTER STORM WARNING!"
Meteorologists are arguably the definitive source of what to expect, weather-wise. Their timing may be off due to forces beyond their control. I (and some others) found it hard to believe that 50- to 60-degree weather could drop low enough again to allow for this precipitation. I thought, "I'll believe it when I see it!"
As the early afternoon hours ticked by on Wednesday, no snow had fallen. But lo and behold, as the hours advanced toward evening, the snow they predicted materialized, and began to accumulate. Even so, in the midst of the blustery storm, came another, more hopeful, prediction: "That snow won't stick around long. It's going to warm up again."
We haven't seen much of the expected season yet here in Wisconsin, although as I write this, I can hear the sound of water flowing--all that snow melting under the Spring sun.
This is Easter weekend, and we will hear the familiar story of Christ's death and resurrection. The story has been spread from The definitive source, thousands of years ago, as a Biblical prediction that and is still repeated today. For Christians, the outcome is exactly what they expect.
That first Easter, when Jesus appeared to His disciples, Thomas was not with them. He doubted their reports that Jesus had indeed been there. He basically said, 'I'll believe it when I see it!' So Jesus returned, and Thomas had to believe it!
After that first Resurrection, fellow Christians exchanged greetings, with joyful excitement in their voices: "He is Risen!" "He is Risen, indeed!" Every Easter, we repeat the sounding joy, as we greet each other with the same triumphant message. And we are certain indeed, that A Voice Carries!