Have you ever left your cell phone in the sun? Or, have you ever left your phone in the car on a hot day? If you have, you know your phone will automatically shut off if it overheats. For example, an iPhone will shut off once it reaches 115 degrees. The function protects internal components of the phone.
My brain does the same thing when I overwork it.
My mind stops. No thoughts are produced. My brain registers “blah.”
The apparent relationship between the brain and the body becomes compromised. I rely upon muscle memory to meander through the twists and turns of life – rock baby, write sermon, change diaper, visit parishioner, clean kitchen, attend meeting, feed dog, blink, breathe, repeat.
A warning signal appears on the screen just before an iPhone shuts down. The signal is a yellow “yield” sign with an exclamation mark on a black overlay. Below the sign is the instruction: “iPhone needs to cool down before you can use it.”
The warning provides one last opportunity to remove the phone from the severity of the situation causing the phone to overheat and forcing the “shut down.”
A similar warning alerts me to the “shut down” of my exhausted brain: my thoughts become negative, terse, pessimistic, or cynical. I loathe this way of thinking. My inner world is a haven, which I prefer to be joyful, optimistic, and hopeful. When my inner world is compromised…well, everything becomes unpleasant, worldly. Each second in such a state of mind feels stolen from me forever.
The love of God born into our heart will not produce repugnant thoughts; rather, such thoughts emerge from a darker, damper, desolate place. When I tire, these repugnant thoughts rise up like an unwanted cold. I tire. I grow weaker. My thoughts begin to slip from my control.
Thoughts are extraordinary, though. Thoughts are the language of our inner world. For this reason, our thoughts are meant to be holy. Our thoughts are meant to be expressions of a heart transformed by the grace of God. Our thoughts, therefore, are a means of praising God.
Paul encourages the Philippians to focus one’s mind upon the glorification of God: “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8) The mind is a beautiful thing. The mind should focus upon that which it reflects.
When my mind slips away, when my focus is not upon the beautiful, when my thoughts are not holy or pleasing…I reassure myself. My negative, terse, pessimistic, or cynical thoughts do not mean I am abhorrent or ugly…
I’m just tired.
Some person, situation, or responsibility is exhausting me. Because I am tired, controlling my mind becomes more laborious; focusing on the beautiful becomes more difficult; and, thinking in a praiseworthy manner becomes a challenge. My thoughts do not reflect my heart nor my being; they are not me..
But, my thoughts are something, still.
Each unwanted thought serves as an alarm. I am tiring and I am approaching “burn out.” Each unwanted thought is a call to retreat to the presence of God – to return to the beautiful one so that I might focus upon true beauty. Each unwanted thought is an encouragement to read scripture, pray, sit in silence, observe nature, worship with others, or (most importantly) to be present with my wife and children. Each unwanted thought is a reminder of the need to be restored, replenished, and renewed.
What do our less than holy thoughts tell us? Be attentive to one’s true need. WE must not allow these thoughts to become us or to consume us; rather, they serve to remind us of our need to rest, relax, and be revived by remembering the one who was, and is, and is to come.
Do you ever feel your thoughts slipping away when you are most tired? What do you do when this happens? Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!!! And, feel free to share the post if you would like!! Blessings…