Today’s task is to take a vacation from yourself—at least from the negative critical parts of yourself. Get away from judgmental thoughts, conversations about your health problems, gossip. Spend some time in the peaceful place God has promised when we give Him all our worries and thank Him for all He has done.
This will be a good challenge for me. Carol Burton McLoud has written a good book for those of us who struggle to control “monkey mind,” Guide Your Mind, Guard your Heart, Grace Your Tongue. If you have the YouVersion Bible app, she also has a 21-day devotional with the same title on that site. In God’s perfect timing, I was reading that devotional today (Day 6) and she said something very pertinent to me, “Often, we give ourselves healthy boundaries for the actions we choose to demonstrate and the words we choose to speak to others…Although your mind might be a secret, cavernous place, it still needs specific boundaries within which to operate.” Though I have some boundaries around what I say and do, I often find myself indulging in constant negative assessments of people, places and things. I noticed this on a recent morning walk around my neighborhood when I became aware of a stream of unhelpful self-talk about my neighbors’ home maintenance and decorative choices. It was a beautiful, crisp winter day, the sun was coming up, I had a great, uplifting audiobook in my ears and yet I somehow felt appointed to be judge and jury for my neighborhood.
Imagine the relief it would be to give up responsibility for the physical, spiritual, and mental condition of everything and everyone, mentally calculating how they could be better. How nice it would be to instead see the beauty in all, appreciating your own good qualities and those of your spouse, your children, your co-workers, and the world at large. These are the thoughts Tommy Newberry has been urging us to in 40 days to a Joy-Filled Life.
He suggests that the objective during this brief vacay is to think, speak, and act in a manner consistent with the 4:8 Principle (“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT ) Some examples he gives of ways to put this into practice are to verbally encourage your spouse, friends, family, and coworkers. Predict positive outcomes out loud. Smile. Laugh. Dwell on the character of God and His many blessings to you. As you change your inner life, your outer life will begin to improve. He states, “You will be looking for—and consequently finding—fresh value in your relationships and circumstances, and new virtue within yourself.”
For extra fun, as you would on any vacation, try a few new things. Break out of your rut and eat different foods, enjoy a new activity, try an alternate route to work. Newberry adds that it might be helpful to hang out with a group of positive-minded friends or carve out a chunk of uninterrupted time with the Creator.
So, what would you do differently on your escape from your usual self? The challenge is to write down four conditions of this getaway or four changes you would make.
For me to enjoy some time off from myself, I would make the following changes:
- Tell my daughter how much I admire the way she mothers her own daughter and the grace with which she works full time while parenting and preparing for a new little one.
- Jump up and start the day joyfully when the alarm goes off instead of snoozing several times, dreading the inevitable moment of getting up.
- Plan and eat healthy meals rather than criticizing myself once I’ve already eaten junk.
- Make a list of things I have been grateful for at the end of the day with a goal of 10-15.
The “extra mile” activity is to recruit a friend to join you on your getaway. Wanna come?
What four changes would make your time away more joyful?