Linda Beck Johnson
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Often, the first thoughts that come to mind at the beginning of a day surge toward the things to do, things left undone, or things we feel can never be done. Clients come to us wanting change and fulfillment. Defining where we are and where we want to be comes with a payoff, usually after the process is in motion. It involves what we feel in response to the direction we take. What would happen if we moved those feelings from the end to the beginning of the process? What could we gain or lose?
Genesis 1:27 says that God created humankind in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. If we believe we reflect the image of the Divine, then fear cannot exist. As I rest in silence, I forget about doing and I open myself to feel the feelings I want to feel for today, this year, and the rest of my life. The choice of feelings is mine. I am in control.
I’ve never known a person who wanted to feel powerless, incompetent, unloved, or frightened. Rather, we want the best for ourselves because that is what God wants. It’s how we are wired.
In John 14:1-2, Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”
For some of us, taking charge of what we are feeling is a new place. What provides the motivation for us to open the door and enter this new place? I become motivated as I read and study verses about the emotions I want to have. When I consciously take charge of what I want to think and subsequently feel, I tend to gravitate to certain passages of Scripture such as these:
- The joy Jesus speaks of in John 15:11: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be ”
- The love He speaks of in John 15:12: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you,” and of which Jeremiah records the Lord saying in Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love . . .”
- The power that Jesus promises in John 14:20: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in ”
Try it for just a few moments. Close your eyes. Think about and feel the feelings you want to feel for the rest of your life. Be patient and begin to feel God’s abundance.
Feelings are powerful. Several years ago I was working with a group of women, facilitating a weekend retreat and I was asked to give a talk about grace. This was a very busy time in my life. I was working for a Fortune 200 company as an advisor to a senior vice president. My position required extensive travel and long work days. I was also working on my master’s degree in Religious Studies and taking a course on the Scriptures. Pressure dominated my life.
The psyche is an incredible source of goodness, however, and sometimes brings incredible surprises. For example, for my master’s program, I had to choose a topic in the Gospel of John for a term paper. I made my choice, but was out of town the day the class assignments were approved by the instructor. The next week my professor told me I would be writing about “joy” in the Gospel of John. I respectfully informed him that my choice was the “I am” sayings. After protesting many times, I finally said, “Okay, joy it is” and begrudgingly began to research the topic.
At the same time I was trying to write my talk about grace. I had given many talks before, but for some reason, this one just wasn’t coming together. I decided to enlist a prayer partner. I pondered the meaning of the idea of “joyful noise” as I typed her email address. I thought about my first weekend retreat and the wonderful friendships I had made. The theme of that retreat was “The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength.” A few days later, a coworker gave me Surprised by Joy, a book by C. S. Lewis, and a little statue titled Joy.
During the next three weeks the word “joy” inundated my life. My daily meditations had titles like “Joy-Tribute,” “You Are My Joy,” and “Full Joy.” I began to chuckle as I envisioned a cosmic conspiracy designed to let me know I really was supposed to write a paper on joy.
The first day of the retreat came. I awakened knowing that on some level I had not met my expectations for my talk, but dwelling on it was not the answer. I decided to just stop, close my eyes, and feel the feelings I wanted to feel. All of a sudden I was overcome with love from these women on the retreat team. With them, I always felt like I had my own personal squad of cheerleaders rooting for me.
I thanked God for each one by name: “Thank you for Mary, she is so kind and always on my side. Thank you for Cookie, she is always on my side,” and so on. Each time I thanked God, the response “Jesus is on your side” would come through in my spirit, and each time more forcefully. I acknowledged these thoughts with, Yes, I know Jesus is on my side. Finally, the response took a very loud, very visual form: Jesus is On
I realized that I was supposed to talk about “joys” infused in the gift of unconditional, perfect love called grace. If it’s grace, it’s joy! And I felt both God’s grace and joy as I spoke to the ladies at the retreat.
I continue to see God’s reminders of what I choose to think about and the feelings that follow. Recently, when I opened my email, I found an excerpt from The Strangest Secret: How to Live the Life You Desire by Earl Nightingale. It was a little story about how our minds cultivate what we put into them. Like two seeds planted in fertile soil, one seed of corn and the other the seed of a poisonous plant, each will grow if we nourish them. And so our minds work in the same way. What we tend to overlook is that we control the seeds we want to plant and we can refuse to water and not feed poisonous seeds. The feelings I want to feel gently sustain and invigorate me. They help me open doors, and then close others. Most of all, these feelings enable me to help others do the same.
Coaching the Coach Tip:
To generate the energy needed to take action, remember that your choices are important. Take charge of what you think by focusing on whatever is true and noble and pure. God’s goodness will infuse your feelings to refresh your spirit and jump-start the creative process.
Linda Beck Johnson is a professional life coach, consultant, trainer, change management facilitator and leadership advisor. Her coaching specialties include leading change, the people side of effective transformation and working with women in life planning. After 35 years in the corporate world working for financial services giant, USAA, Linda now teaches and facilitates workshops and retreats.
Georgia Shaffer, M.A., is a professional speaker, certified Life Coach and the author of four books including Coaching the Coach: Lessons from Christian Coaches. She is is a regular columnist for Christian Coaching Today and a board member of the International Christian Coaches Association (ICCA). Georgia is on the teaching team of AACC’s Professional Life Coaching Training. She specializes in coaching coaches, women and communicators. To find out more, visit www.GeorgiaShaffer.com.