A year after I discovered Facebook I discovered something else; My mind began to think in status updates. Somehow, "I need to load the dishwasher" was transformed into, "These dishes are out of control. Time to do what I do best and tackle the mess." And "I'm so tired" became, "Long night up with the baby. Mama needs a coffee." Perhaps it's the writer in me but this new pattern of thought came very easily. I began living out my inner monologue in a manner that would make Mark Zuckerberg oh so proud. I didn't always run to the computer to update my friends on things such as the jaw dropping size of Adam's poop, but my mind formulated a status update regardless.
Now when you're a stay at home mom, locked in the house with a bunch of pooping, screaming, laughing little ones, it is nice to have an outlet. And Facebook is certainly an outlet. On the occasions when my thoughts escaped my mind and found their way into Faceland my friends were so encouraging. They liked me! They really, really liked me! They appreciated not feeling alone in their mothering. They were grateful that I made them laugh out loud. And suddenly Facebook not only became an outlet, it also became a place where I received praise and affirmation. And let's be honest, no one thanks me when I wipe their butts around here.
I loved this new found land. It was a place where the attention I received from my captive audience of friends distracted me from the monotony of life in the motherhood. I found it particularly welcome during the years I endured long Wisconsin winters. But over time I realized something. My status driven thinking, need for an outlet, and desire for praise were actually stealing sweet moments from my life. It's so obvious really. I know many people have caught onto this much sooner than I did. And when the light bulb went off I was simultaneously struck with this verse:
I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. (Psalm 34:1)
And I realized I could not have praise "always on my lips" if status updates were always on my mind. So what was I to do? The most simple (and yet ashamedly difficult) answer was to redirect my thinking. My mind had developed a pattern of thinking in status. I had to change the pattern into thinking in praise. About 6 months ago the transformation began. Whenever my mind began the think in status, I stopped and refocused.
"It's HOT! Time for a family dip in the pool."
"Thank you God for the blessings you've given my family. A home and the health to do the things we enjoy."
"Cookies in the oven and Matt home playing with the boys. This is bliss."
"Thank you heavenly father for my children and my husband who loves them so well."
Even well intentioned updates like ...
"Please pray for Henry. He's has surgery tomorrow morning."
"Thank you Father for holding Henry in the palm of your hand. Please guide the doctors and nurses as they work to heal his little body."
Time and again I had to redirect my thoughts. Was I going to send them into the abyss of the internet? Or would I send them heavenward? One would feed my desire for distraction and attention. The other would grow in me the fruits of thanksgiving and faithfulness. So with the help of the Spirit I chose to look heavenward with my thoughts. Over. And over. And over again.
As is always the case when you respond to God's tug on your heart, the timing of my thought-life transformation was perfect. The last 6 months have been a particularly challenging time. We experienced the loss of a tiny life growing in my womb. Henry had a mysterious lump appear on his neck. He had a wonderfully successful surgery to remove the mass and while it's exact origin is still a mystery he is healthy. During this time of trial our home was filled with stress, anxiety and tears. But in the quiet moments when it would have been so easy to hop on the computer and seek affirmation in my struggles I turned instead to prayer. In his divine wisdom God knew I would need Him (always ... but even more) in the last 6 months. I can see it clearly now. And while the last 6 months have been a challenging time, they have also been a faith building time. And for that I am thankful.
Thank you God for speaking to my heart, for encouraging me to lean on you more, and for bringing my family through every joy and struggle you place in our path.