I once made the world’s worst casserole.
Oh, girl, I am not exaggerating! The recipe called for milk, but I ran out and used buttermilk instead. Bad idea.
But, my sweet family tried to be so mannerly and gracious as they swallowed each sour, sticky bite! After all, it was Christmas Eve and they were on their best holiday behavior.
When I called my dad to wish him a merry day, I told him about my Christmas Eve catastrophe, and how I had made the worst casserole. He said, “No, you didn’t. You made a great memory!”
My dad was an expert at extracting the good out of every single thing! He knew how to keep his thoughts focused on the good even when things didn’t turn out so good.
I wish bad casseroles were the worst things that ever happened in our lives. An awful casserole is nothing compared to the really tough stuff you and I deal with. It’s hard to keep your thoughts focused on the good when life isn’t so good.
But, sister, I can, and you can too!
On this episode of the 4:13 Podcast, KC and I get real practical about how to focus on the good. We’re not going to settle for just positive thinking. We’re going to choose productive thinking by learning to 4:8 our thoughts and by creating goodness grabbers.
How to 4:8 Your Thoughts
We can all spy something “good” or “lovely” or “true” by applying some Philippians 4:8 to whatever we face. Here are eight things from this verse that we can dwell on.
- Dwell on what is true. If something is true, it corresponds with ultimate reality. God is the ultimate reality (John 3:33, John 7:18), and His Word is truth. So, first and foremost, we filter everything through the pages of His Word. Is what you’re dwelling on true or false? Is it genuine or fake?
- Dwell on what is honorable. The word honorable means “that which inspires reverence or awe; dignified, worthy of respect.” Ask yourself: Are my thoughts honorable? Am I taking the high road here? What is honorable about this? If it’s not honorable, don’t dwell on it.
- Dwell on what is right. The word right is used of God and denotes righteousness. Is what you’re thinking right? Or righteous? Is your focus helping you to think higher and bring out God’s character in you?
- Dwell on what is pure. You can’t separate this word from moral purity and sexual purity. So consider: Are my thoughts pure? How can I find something pure to dwell on? When you’re not dwelling on what is pure, it’s like focusing on the spot of dirt rather than the clean around it.
- Dwell on what is lovely. Lovely means what is pleasing, agreeable, or attractive. Sometimes a situation isn’t inherently lovely. But, when Christ is with you, you can always focus on Him. You can make your thoughts lovely. So, if it’s a bad day or a bad situation, ask yourself: Are my thoughts lovely? If not, is there something lovely I can think about? Can I dwell on something lovely right now?
- Dwell on what is of good repute. Repute means of high esteem. If we can’t think on anything good, then we need to think about something else! There is always something you can think of that is worthy of regard or esteem.
- Dwell on what is excellent. This is similar to virtue. Meaning, keep yourself focused on all that is virtuous and promotes virtue. The rest—forget it!
- Dwell on what is worthy of praise. This Greek word for praise is used both about God and about people. In Scripture, all God is and does is worthy of praise, so we focus on that. But, it also means that we focus on the strengths of another. We note and notice their good qualities. We are appreciative and affirming to people rather than negative and critical.
How to Create Goodness Grabbers
You can also create “Goodness Grabbers” or word magnets that attract the good in any situation. Here are some I’ve learned to say:
- When things just aren’t going well and don’t seem to be getting better, I say … “It could be worse.”
- When I’m asked to do something and, after I’ve said yes, I feel a big “uh oh, why didn’t I say no,” I say … “I don’t have to do this, I get to.”
- When I feel the pinch of giving more time or money or effort, I say … “Generosity is never a bad choice.”
- When blindness is wearing me out and I feel the big urge to quit, I say … “Earth is short and heaven is long.”
- When something I face feels bigger than me and beyond my ability or experience, I say … “It’s not a challenge, it’s an adventure.”
You get the idea! Goodness grabbers can help strip the destructive power from a difficult situation and infuse you with a hopeful perspective instead.
If you don’t have any, create some for yourself. Write them down and keep them on your fridge or dashboard so you can begin the habit of grabbing good.
Sister, no matter what situation you face, you can focus on the good even when life seems bad, through Christ who strengthens you!
Books and Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- Me, Myself, & Lies: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
- Me, Myself, & Lies for Young Women: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
- Me, Myself, & Lies: A Thought Closet Makeover Bible Study
- This One Change Can Make Your Bad Days Better
- How to 4:8 Your Thoughts
- The Strength You Need for the Words You Say
Jennifer’s “Stuff I Love”
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What is one Goodness Grabber you can create today?