Someone asked me if I meant to title “Just Pure Lovely” ungrammatically correct. If it were in a sentence, it should be “just purely lovely,” she said. Right. But Just Pure Lovely is three words…
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”Philippians 4:8
I’m a fixer—a fixer-upper. Maybe that’s not the right wording. Unfinished projects don’t bother me (enjoying the process is often my goal, not the final product). But in relationships, I want to – need to – fix things or I feel I’ll lose my mind. Unsettled matters unsettle me. So when a friend of the past few years sent an email full of accusations on Christmas Eve (of all the imperfect timing), I wanted to fix it. Instead, the email accusations continued over the entire month of January, extending into a broader friend circle, and as much as I tried to take it and forgive and forget, the whole ordeal got to me.
I’m obsessive. Obsessive over things I cannot fix. I was so absorbed in wishing I could get my friend to ask questions, to assume the best before the worst, that I had the hardest time letting go of the matter once I realized that it was not something I could not fix. It affected everything – the house (a mess! I was staring at my email inbox too often), the children (I couldn’t hear them over the loud thoughts in my head), and my marriage (“Please forget about it,” he said, referring to ‘the problem,’ but I couldn’t. My mind wouldn’t).
For about five weeks this went on, until, nearly berserk, a childhood memory of Philippians 4:8 came to mind, and along with that, I remembered that I’d heard that “every action begins with a thought,” and “every thought can be changed.” More importantly, we can only think one thought at a time (try it!). So I decided – a mind-focusing, conscious decision – that every time I’d think of the injustice of my friend’s accusations, I’d change the thought to something “true” or “noble” or “just” or “pure” or “lovely.”
The first day, I had to change my thoughts, oh, probably 2,300 times. Each day, though, my thoughts wandered less to the negative and more to the positive. (During this time, I heard of Corrie ten Boom who said that thinking of an injustice done to her was like “gonging a bell,” each gong only serving to keep her mind on the accusations. When she learned to stop gonging the bell – choosing to stop thinking about it and think of something else instead – the gonging eventually lessened, until she could hear the bell no more).
Part of my self-prescribed thought therapy included starting this blog, where I’d be me. I’d focus on the, well, just pure lovely things in my life. It seems that there is no point in trying to be someone else, so I may as well be me as best I can. I started posting photos that I’d never posted on my former blog because I don’t really know what I’m doing with a camera, sharing crafty things that I’d never posted because I’m really not great at any of them, and – although this one is still tough for me; transparency is scary – I’d share thoughts I have about life and kids and marriage and whatever else.
Today, another new friend tossed me an accusation-assumption email, unrelated to the other one, but still accompanied by a loss-of-breath-from-the-blow effect.
My first thought was that email stinks for telling friends what you think of them. My second thought was that assuming anything about anyone if you’re not willing to ask even a single question is not fair. My third thought was more of a deep, sudden desire to move to 200 acres, plop myself in the middle of them, and lose all contact with every soul on the face of the earth. I logged onto UnitedCountry.com to find such a place (it exists).
Before more than a few hours went by, I remembered that old Bible verse again and decided to change my thoughts to things more pleasant, more just pure lovely.
Since I’d recently seen old childhood pals on our vacation up North, my “just pure lovely” thoughts went to them. These are friends who I hadn’t seen in many years, but with whom I share such a deep connection (sharing a childhood at a boarding school does that) that I know I could call any of them at any time of day or night and they’d be there for me.
Friends I’d walk 5,000 miles toward, knowing they are walking 5,000 miles my way, too, simply because I said I needed them to do it.
Even when I do something wrong they assume that I meant to do right.
Friends like these are a few of the many Just Pure Lovely things in my life, and a good place to start thinking when days like today happen.
So, anyway, that’s how this blog was named, and that’s why I tend to post about the fuzzy, sweet, pretty things in life. I’m not always so peppy, but I think the world would be so much happier if we did at least try to think about the just, the pure, and the lovely things more often than not.
Especially about each other.