I walk in the door after a long day at work, just hoping for a hot meal and looking forward to lounging on the couch in my warm socks and sweats. Of course, things don’t go as planned.
Dishes are piled in the sink, the floor feels suspiciously sticky, and the dryer beeps as a new load of laundry is done. What’s more, I look on the couch to see that my fellow roommate has already found the comfiest spot, amidst our disaster of a house.
Irritation and anger start to burn inside me.
This is not how it should be! Why do I always have to clean up after her? She is always like this! Why do I have to put up with all this? I am ready to give up!
The power of negative thoughts
Have you ever noticed that negative thoughts have a tendency to build up at high speed? It starts with one, and pretty soon can start swarming like bees buzzing inside my head. One thought comes after another, and soon I am standing there wallowing in self-pity and indignation.
I am sure I am right; isn’t it simple righteousness that my roommate picks up after herself?
But the truth is that my impatience is not a result of the messy roommate I am living with, but rather the sin that dwells within me. (Romans 7:18) These thoughts that come as a result of my sinful flesh rob me of my happiness.
I have no desire to hurt the people nearest me, but at the same time, it can happen so fast when a cold, bitter word rolls off my tongue—and it all starts with a disgruntled thought.
I do not want to start an argument with my roommate, but what can I do when I am standing there, almost drowning in my self-righteous thoughts?
Catching the little foxes
“Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines…” Song of Solomon 2:15.
Since I realise that everything good and evil stems from a single thought, I have to be conscious in my daily life, and “catch” those disapproving or negative thoughts while they are small, before they are allowed to fester and grow.
The way others behave can never rob me of my happiness. It is only the sin in my flesh that causes me grief and sorrow. The thoughts that I choose to allow in – either that of the flesh, or that of the Spirit, is the sole factor that determines my joy. Knowing this, I can be happy no matter what happens, since it is up to me how I react and what thoughts I allow to stay in my mind.
I “die” to my own will
“…If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23.
This is something that I have to constantly remind myself of and keep close to me every day. Taking up my cross means that I “die” to my own will according to the flesh. All self-righteousness, impatience, anger, irritation—everything that does not lead to life and peace—has to die.
I can’t control what others say and do, but I can choose what thoughts I allow room for in my mind. This isn’t always easy, especially when my own opinions and honour are at stake, but with a decided mind I start to practice, and it becomes more natural day by day.
As I concentrate on denying the negative thoughts that come up and putting them to death, I am slowly being transformed (Romans 7:29). What used to be a big battle for me gradually evolves into less and less of a temptation. It is no longer so difficult to come home, tired and cold, to a house in disarray, and still bless my roommate, clean up the things that she has perhaps forgotten, and bring joy into the home with a thankful heart.
When I have a pure heart and seek the truth, then I will always do God’s will whether that means I need to compromise, I need to keep my mouth shut, or I should give a gentle word to encourage my neighbour. (Proverbs 25:15)
Life becomes very interesting when I realize that the solution to my “problems” with the others is to work on my own salvation! (Philippians 2:12)