Whom will you allow to speak into your life? To what voices will you give attention? Will you listen to voices that align with scripture and offer encouragement to your heart? Or will you allow the negative complaints of misguided people to take over your headspace and rob you of your joy?
Attending an evening service on a college campus meant that I was one of the oldest people in the room. As a mom, I just wanted to worship with my kids, but since the service focused on young adults and their dating relationships, I took an interest. I wanted to hear what the preacher had to say about relationships.
I left that service so grateful for a pastor who could speak God’s truth into the lives of my college kids. My kids took note of the words the minister spoke, and afterwards they talked of what the message meant to them. Each one left with wisdom from God’s word to take back to their own relationship struggles. The pastor had echoed my own words to my children and I was so grateful. As I hugged the pastor on the way out of church I had thanked her for speaking God’s truth into my family. I left God’s house overflowing with joy.
Yet before I could return home, I found myself in the presence of two adults who spoke about the service with condescension. In an instant, my joy turned to frustration. Their flippant words caught me off guard. I politely walked away from the discussion, but my heart was heavy. I had things I needed to do, but my mind was focused on the misunderstanding.
I replayed the scene a dozen ways in my head and allowed the complaints to rob me of my joy. I called a friend and cried some tears. My friend encouraged me to focus on the joy and encouragement of the day and to stop allowing negative voices to take up residence in my head. I realized that I had not only given those negative voices a home, I was waiting on them attentively!
The Bible offers us some guidance about where we should focus our thoughts. Philippians 4:8 say, “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.”
In the midst of a world that will challenge our beliefs and even our own identity, we will face pain. People will be thoughtless and hurt our feelings. The question becomes where will we focus our mental energy? Will we focus on the places of hurt and discouragement, or turn to God as our source of comfort and encouragement?
To what voices will you listen? You get to choose!
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra
Dr. Robert Ritzema