Many of us who grieve have trouble stopping the ugly thoughts, the flashbacks, the “What ifs”. Going to sleep at night can be a challenge when all we can think about is the pain of missing our loved one.
We can’t simply stop thinking about something. We must start thinking about something else.
If I tell you to stop thinking about purple birthday cakes, you will have an image of a purple cake in your head. You cannot will yourself to stop thinking about cakes. But you can choose to think about something else.
What should we think about?
Here is a Bible verse that helps me and may help you. (Many verses in the Bible contain practical advice that any of us could use to help us as we deal with grief and life’s daily struggles.)
“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.”
Philippians 4:8 | NIV
Did you notice this list tells us exactly what to think about?
My husband taught me years ago that he likes to make a list of things that fit the descriptions in this verse. That way, when his mind goes to ugly thoughts, he has a list of other things to think about. It helps him to stop thinking ugly thoughts. So I’ve tried it. It works!
Here is an example of my list today:
True: It’s true that Andrew loved me. I loved him. It’s true that he is still loved by many. He truly was a great guy, kind, fun, smart.
Noble: It is noble when I bite my tongue and don’t say everything I feel or think. It is noble when others help me through the hard days with kindness. Many have done this. It was noble when I was patient with a difficult person yesterday.
Right: It is right for me to be kind to others even in the midst of my pain. It is right for me to ignore words that I could easily get angry about. It is right for me to get dressed today and brush my teeth, since I have to go out in public. It is right for me to get groceries today.
Pure: The love I receive from God is pure. The beauty in the flowers and the songs of the birds outside is pure. The giggles of my granddaughter are pure delight!
Lovely: The blue sky and the green trees in springtime are lovely! A hummingbird eating from one of our red flowers is lovely. The knowing, sweet smile of a new “bereaved parent” friend is lovely. Seeing an elderly couple holding hands and grinning at each other is lovely. The kindness being shown by a caregiver to a hurting older gentleman in the doctor’s office this morning was lovely.
Admirable: The way many of you handle your loss and still show grace and kindness is admirable. The way my oldest daughter parents her children despite her having a very imperfect mom as an example is admirable.
Excellent: The way my husband loves me when I am unlovable is excellent. (I want to think of ways to love him with excellence.) Some of the encouraging posts, poems, and comments you post are excellent! My son’s smile was excellent, as was his dancing and his laugh.
Praiseworthy: A kind word. A job well done. A gentle answer in response to an insult. Friends who keep calling and texting to check on me. These are praiseworthy.
Friends, can you add to the list of things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy?
In the comments, add your list! Pick one or two of these traits and write things in your life or about your loved one that fits.
You could even get a small notebook and write you list in it. Write “TRUE” on the top of the first page. Write “NOBLE” on the top of the next page. And so on. Each day try to add to your list of what tovthjnk about, things in your life that are true, noble, right, etc. Try to fill the notebook with these things. Then on the hard days you’ll have a list to help you change what your thoughts.