When I was a kid, we were taught the “new math.” I don’t know what it meant, but it scared the fire out of my parent’s eyes.
Non-verbally, the school system was saying, “This is different. Don’t try to help your kid or you’ll totally confuse them.” Somewhere between being in third grade where I felt special and was learning the “new math” and ninth grade when I was facing good, old-fashioned algebra, I didn’t feel very special any more.
But I do remember this: if A = B and B = C then A must equal C. It makes sense. If A = 3+1; B = 2+2 and C = 4, then you can see how the above formula works.
You can understand my dilemma when I discovered that maybe the new math was wrong. You see if A = Thoughts; B = Feelings, C = Behaviors; D = Habits, E = Character and F = Destiny, then C becomes the beginning of the crisis. Or is it really A?
Stay with me. I’ll totally confuse you, don’t worry.
Imagine the teen whose thoughts are: “I never do anything right.” Their feelings will cause them to see themselves as inferior. When that happens, they choose behaviors that reward those feelings by hanging with the crowd that reinforces those beliefs. Those behaviors lead to habits, i.e. running with the wrong crowd. We become who we hang out with (Character) and we end up somewhere we never intended to be.
We don’t think about the power of thoughts. We also don’t think about the power of other people’s words that can affect our thoughts. Last summer, we celebrated my mother’s 90th birthday in New Jersey. I was looking forward to being the MC for the evening. But I felt like the comedian who taps the microphone and says, “Is anybody out there?” I wasn’t connecting with the audience (my cousins). I realized months later that they saw me as the six-year-old cousin they didn’t like decades ago. However they saw me in the early 1960s, they still saw me the same way when I was an adult decades later.
I had a choice. I could let their perception of me affect my thoughts. I would have inferior feelings. I would then stuff those feeling with a big bowl of macaroni and cheese (that will kill any negative feelings). If I continued to believe their attitude toward me was correct, I would eat more macaroni and cheese every night. I would see myself as a loser (Character) and lose sight of all that God would have me to do.
Sounds far-fetched. Don’t answer this but let me ask you a question – do you really want to go to your family Fourth of July picnic and get insulted by your aunt again just because she doesn’t like you?
So how do we change? There is a Scripture verse that says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” What are the thoughts that race through your mind? Do you see yourself as having made a mistake, or do you see yourself as a mistake. Those are two separate concepts.
There is another Scripture verse that says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
You have to come to the point where you take that thought captive and not allow it to side track your life and all that God has for you.
I’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, live well, my friend.
The Rev. Tony Marciano is executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission, which provides a free, long-term Christian recovery program for men and women addicted to drugs and alcohol.