Do you want to know what I think is the #1 key to joyful motherhood? The most powerful force in the quality of my relationships and the condition of my heart? The determining factor, if there is one, in my prevailing attitude toward my family?
What I think on a regular basis shapes my attitude which affects my emotions which influence my behavior. When I find myself becoming a stressed, grumpy, and disgruntled momma, I can always trace it back to negative thoughts I’ve been dwelling on. And the opposite is also true. When I choose to meditate on positive thoughts, I find I enjoy my life a whole lot more.
Philippians 4:8 calls this “fixing our thoughts,” and it gives us a whole list of things on which to fix them. While the verse is for everyone and for all areas of life, I think it is extremely applicable to motherhood and holds the key to joyful motherhood.
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WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS FIXED ON?
Have you ever thought about what your thoughts are fixed on? Because, whether we realize it or not, they are always fixed on something.
Are they fixed on the noise, the dirt, the dirty diapers (oh my word, the dirty diapers)?
Or are they fixed on the hugs, the smiles, the “I love you’s?”
Are they fixed on how worn out and tired you are?
Or are they fixed on how blessed you are?
Are they fixed on your children’s misbehavior, poor choices, and irritating quirks?
Or are they fixed on their God-given strengths, gifts, and potential?
Are they fixed on what the world says about motherhood?
Or are they fixed on what God says?
I’ll be the first to admit that it is much easier to let my thoughts become fixed on what’s hard, tiring, and frustrating about motherhood. It’s the natural default. It takes a lot of conscious determination and intention to fix my thoughts on the good.
Fortunately, Philippians 4:8 has a helpful list of where I should direct my thoughts. I’ve given it to you below in two different translations and a paraphrase. I highly recommend reading them all slowly and contemplatively, as each one has something unique and wonderful to offer.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. 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.
Things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Isn’t that just an instant mood-lifter?
Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].
(bold emphasis added by me)
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
The best, not the worst; the beautiful not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse — isn’t that awesome??
PHILIPPIANS 4:8 FOR MOMS
Now I’m going to take a liberty here to write my own paraphrase of Philippians 4:8 specifically to moms:
Finally, dear mommas, consciously choose to dwell on thoughts that are true and based on God’s Word, not the lies that Satan or society have led us to believe.
Think about your kids’ best qualities, rehearse often all the things you love and enjoy about them. Don’t ignore bad behavior, but view it in the light of their God-given potential. Think the best of them.
When negative thoughts come to your head about your family, replace them with thoughts that honor them. Choose to see their best qualities and extend them grace. Take notice when your thoughts are leading you down the road to bitterness, resentment, and irritability, and choose thoughts that will lead you to peace and joy.
Most of all, think about what a blessing your family is to you. Remind yourself of this every single day.
Think on these things.
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This certainly doesn’t mean we stick our heads in the sand, ignore bad behavior, or become a doormat. Of course we need to address issues when they need correction.
Neither is it wrong to feel tired, angry, lonely, or overwhelmed. Motherhood is hard, and these emotions are perfectly natural.
But they should be temporary struggles, not the status quo. We can visit, but it shouldn’t be the place we live day in and day out. And if it is, then that’s a good sign that maybe our thought life needs a tune-up.
Let’s commit to regularly examining where our thoughts are fixed, and follow the example set by Philippians 4:8. Let’s fix our thoughts on what is lovely and true. What is excellent and worthy of praise. The best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not to curse.
I think we’ll be amazed at the joy it restores to our motherhood.
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