Maya Angelou's saying "when you know better you do better" has been playing in my head quite a bit lately as I prepare to close out 2011. I feel as if I know what I should be doing, yet I don't do it. I keep doing the same things over and over again, but I expect different results. Isn't that the very definition of insanity? I'm not sure how many times I need to hear that my life mirrors my thoughts and that in order to attract good things into my life I must focus on "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable" (Philippians 4:8). But even though I know this, I find it so difficult to stop those thoughts that make me feel bad. For example this morning when I started to feel irritated about all of the things that I needed to do today and how little time I had, in stead of immediately taking note of how I felt and changing my thoughts to more positive ones, I rode the wave for a while. Actually it felt good, in a perverse kind of way, to be in a bad mood. I allowed myself to wallow in this funk until I finally came to my senses and said, "stop! I'm going to make this a good day!"
I think the reason that I find this so difficult is because it really takes a great deal of effort. It's hard work thinking about what I'm thinking about! When I just go with the emotion, there's no effort on my part. But when I'm constantly checking my thoughts, I really have to be on top of things.
It even goes beyond what I'm thinking to what I actually say. Every snarky thought that I have that eventually works its way out of my mouth has the potential to destroy me. It seems so harmless to say something catty about someone else, but when I do it causes harm not only to the other person but to me as well because I create negativity and invite those same unkind words to be said about me.
Probably the hardest thing to do is to just remain silent or to walk away when I'm in a situation where I feel compelled to say something negative or critical about another. There's one person in my life who I really cannot stand. Truthfully I cannot find one good thing about her. No matter how hard I try I cannot think of one redeeming quality she possesses. To make matters worse I don't know anyone who likes her either so it's easy for me to feel justified in badmouthing her. But the thing is that I do know better. I know that words hurt just as much, if not worse, than sticks and stones because the pain lasts so much longer.
Yes, in my opinion she may be vile, but she is a child of God and He loves her. I know this, but I don't want to like her. I don't wanna! I don't wanna! It's so much better to think bad things about her and to feel superior to her because of the stupid things she does and says, but since I know better I have to do better. I have to keep my mouth closed and my opinion to myself.
So here's the deal. From now until the January 1, 2012, I'm going to do what I know I'm supposed to do. I'm starting with watching my thoughts and my words and then moving onto other things I know I should be doing. I invite you to take this journey with me. I won't promise it will be easy, but I do promise we'll be better for doing it.