One little girl complained to her mother that she had a stomachache and didn’t feel like going to church. Her mother said, “Your stomach hurts because it’s empty. It will feel better when you put something in it.” They went to church, and, as they were leaving, the pastor mentioned that he had a headache. The little girl told him, “Your head hurts because it’s empty. It will feel better when you put something in it.”
In a way, she was right, because how you feel is basically determined by what you put in your head. Thoughts are the seeds you’re planting for future attitudes. What you think today is what you will do tomorrow. Thinking occurs when your mouth stays shut and your head keeps talking. You are way ahead of the game if you realize that you talk to yourself. We control the mind; then the mind controls us. Input controls output.
A friend of mine was house-training his dog. Every time the dog made a mess in the house, he hit the dog with a paper and threw the dog out the window. After about three weeks, I asked how it was going. He said, “The dumb dog makes a mess and then jumps out the window.” The dog learned the wrong thing, and many of us grew up also learning the wrong things.
Most stress is caused from our thinking patterns. Many think they have to always be right or always win. The problem is, to be right they have to find someone who’s wrong, and to win they have to find someone who will lose.
Change your thinking. For example, rather than thinking “I have to be right,” try “I need to be helpful.” Next time you are in a traffic jam, try thinking that this is the only 20 minutes of uninterrupted time you will have all day to pray or listen to good music. Isn’t that better than working yourself into a heart attack or stroke and blowing your horn and getting angry at inanimate objects?
Stressed people think more about what they don’t have than what God has provided. In 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre museum in Paris. It was missing for two years. During that time, more people came to the museum to stare at the blank space than had come to view the masterpiece itself in the previous 12 years. Doesn’t that sound like us? We take for granted all the masterpieces in our lives until they become blank spaces. Think about your gains instead of your losses. Think about the donut and not the hole.
How you think about God determines whether you respond or react to the world. If you’re sick and react to the medication, that’s not good. But if you respond to the medication, that is good. That’s the way it is in the world. I want to respond and not just react to my environment.
With the starting quarterback injured and the second string quarterback not even dressed because of illness, only the freshman quarterback, with no college game experience other than punting, was all the coach had left. It was first down with the ball resting on their own three-yard line. The coach’s main thought was just to get away from the goal line so the team would have room to punt out of danger. The coach said, “Son, I want you to hand-off to Jones, our big fullback, for the next two plays. Let him run into the middle of the line and get us a few yards. Then I want you to punt.”
The young quarterback did as he was instructed. On the first play, he handed off to Jones, but miraculously Jones found a hole off tackle and ran 50 yards. The young quarterback called the same play again and once more, miracle of miracles, the hole was there again. This time, Jones ran 45 yards. The fans were going crazy. The ball was on the opponent’s two-yard line, only six short feet from the goal line. Confidently, the team lined up quickly and the young quarterback received the snap, stepped back and punted the football into the stands.
As the team came off the field, the coach angrily grabbed the young quarterback and asked, “What in the world were you thinking when you called that last play?” The quarterback answered blankly, “I was thinking what a dumb coach we have.”
Your thoughts about your “life coach” will often determine your stress level. If you think your coach has a good plan for your life, you can relax as you run the plays you’ve been given. God says the plans He has for us are good. If your life is aching, maybe you ought to consider the little girl’s advice. For a life ache, I bet she would say, “Your life hurts because it is empty. Put something in it and you’ll feel better.” Put some good thoughts in your head, and you’ll discover that when you change your thinker, life isn’t such a stinker.