My word for 2015 is “SPEAK.” When I pray and ask God what He would have me do this year, I only hear one word…SPEAK. But in order to know what to SPEAK, God wants me to first LISTEN to Him. How else will I know what to SPEAK unless I LISTEN? So although this year is about SPEAKing, my primary preparation for this role is to LISTEN. You would think God would have me practice speaking…He has not asked me to do that yet.
This first month of the year is a month of purposeful silence. Not complete silence, but no TV, no radio (except occasionally Christian stations), no computer (except for encouraging and praying for others thru social media and listening to online sermons); and, in general, not a lot of unnecessary conversations or idle chatting. God does not want me to fill the air with noise, but to be intentional at creating a still space where I can hear His voice. The Bible speaks louder when we turn down the noise. So for the month of January I have entered a forced quiet, so that I can get in tune with the Spirit and align my heart, mind, body, and spirit with God’s plans for me. I would have thought this quiet time would be refreshing and peaceful…what I am experiencing is the exact opposite. The silence is deafening.
In the absence of outside noise, I can more clearly hear my internal chatter – and it ain’t pretty. My mind is full of doubts, fears, confusion, rebellion, and stubbornness. It will take an act of God to clear my mind, and that is exactly what I am counting on. You see, I will never be able to untangle the strands of emotions and old tapes and misdirected thought patterns that have accumulated over the years. I am powerless to reprogram my mind. Let’s think about this…Isn’t it my own thought patterns that have created this mess in the first place? Can I trust my mind to heal itself? No. It can’t. So what do I do?
I ask for help from outside of my own mind. I ask for clarity. I ask for wisdom. I ask for God to clean up this mess that I have made and He is happy to do it. In fact, He has already placed a part of Himself in my soul to help redirect my mind. The Holy Spirit. As these miscellaneous thoughts and random ideas come to my mind, I ask the Spirit to sort them for me. It is similar to the process I went through when I sorted through clothes and household items, preparing to leave my bigger house in Dayton and move to my new apartment in Charlotte. I had to divide things into piles. 3 piles to be exact.
1.) Optimal and Useful …things I use or wear every day and I actually need to keep my life running smoothly. Items I would have to later replace if I were to get rid of them now.
2.) Outdated and Useless…things I have not used or worn for over a year (or a decade) that are just taking up valuable space, but not adding any value to my life.
3.) Obsolete and Unsure…things that I may have an ancient emotional attachment to, but are no longer purposeful in my life. Things that I know I need to let go of, but I am not quite ready to do so. This pile is full of items that I don’t have the energy to sort through quickly and decisively and will be revisited later when I have more clarity. (Sometimes emotions cloud what the Spirit is trying to do. Be aware of this.)
I have realized that my thoughts also fall into one of these 3 categories, and sorting them will be a major undertaking. There is some serious sorting to do. Spirit, do your thing!
1.) What thoughts are Optimal and Useful? These are thoughts I need on a daily basis to maintain a vibrant life. Deep values, character builders, relationship enhancers, and spiritually invigorating ideas. The Spirit is quick to esteem these thoughts, and I determine to take them with me wherever I go. These thoughts are set apart and quickly labeled “handle with care”.
2.) What thoughts are Outdated and Useless? Old thought patterns and routines that may have served me at one time, but are no longer needed. For example: family of origin roles, past relationship hang-ups, religious routines, or negative habits. These thoughts are flagged by the Spirit to be destroyed. These may be hard to get rid of, but, truth be told, we know that most of the things in this category eventually need to go in the trash.
3.) What thoughts are Obsolete and Unsure? These are the “8 track tape” thoughts that at one time rocked your world, but are not even able to be used now. They are the “fat jeans and skinny pants” that just take up closet space and give you false hope. The Spirit says to be thankful for them and what they used to mean to me, but to let them go as quickly as possible, because the “old” is taking up valuable space for the “new” that is on its way. I choose to give these thoughts away to someone who can fit into them, to collectors of antiques, or in some cases I simply return them back to the people who gave them to me originally.
So I am sorting and the Spirit is leading and I am listening…when will I get to speak?! And I hear God say, “I think you just did!!”