Is obsolete thinking making you old before your time?
We singles can be funny folks, especially when we engage in obsolete thinking.
Without a spouse to nudge us into the 21st century, we're often guilty of self-talk that should have been retired with stirrup pants and Spice Girls CDs. For the most part, our outmoded notions are just silly, but sometimes they have a serious, destructive edge to them.
By now, everybody recognizes that each of us is carrying on a mental monologue all day, without much serious monitoring going on. We're seldom aware enough to push the "STOP" buzzer when something outrageous gets said.
"I don't like myself. Period."
But that's not always what you tell yourself, is it? Instead, you're still rolling that obsolete thinking tape in which you beat yourself up for some chance remark or harmless blunder.
Inside, you realize you should know better by now, but maybe you've gotten lazy. You haven't cleaned that tape out of the library between your ears, even though you know it's not true.
These self-destructive zingers can pop up unexpectedly, like when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the reflection of a store window and think, "Yuck! Do I really look that bad?"
Or maybe you make a dumb statement during a meeting at work, then roast yourself over the coals for a week because you imagine everybody thinks you're stupid. Now there's some self talk that really needs to go.
Obsolete thinking isn't limited to ourselves. Some of us still harbor prejudice against certain groups of people (choose one ethnic group from column A and one minority from column B). We know that kind of stereotyped bigotry should have stopped with our grandparents, so why are we still thinking that way?
Whenever we lump one individual's actions into a group, that's a leap of logic that needs to be stopped. We know better, but we just don't make the effort to quit it.
Sadly, Christian are guilty of all of the above. Listen to Christian talk radio for a couple hours and the term "liberal" may be spoken like a swear word. But was there a bigger liberal in his day than Jesus Christ?
All our brains could stand being hosed down with a pressure washer. We've accumulated a lot of built-up grime over the years that needs to be blasted away.
It's not "what's working"
If we try to identify our obsolete thinking by what works and what doesn't, we'll surely run into trouble.
We may think our strategy of avoiding people because they make us feel uneasy is working, when all it's really doing is making our problem worse. We all (me included) have our ways of rationalizing eccentricities because we believe they're "working," when they're actually not.
So how can you spot obsolete thinking and root it out? I think two guidelines help.
First, is it a timeless principle taught in the Bible? That is, does it fall into the category of righteous acts, such as honesty, diligence, compassion or moral purity? Some of those attitudes may be "obsolete" among your friends or peers, but according to God, they're always in style. And who are you going to listen to anyway, God or your friends?
Second, does this thought pattern help me grow as a person or does it cause me to shrink? This is where we have to be cautious about rationalizing. If we choose to continue beliefs that cause us to shrink, we have only ourselves to blame for the consequences.
Once again, we have to measure "growth" against the standards of scripture. Some actions that society considers growth are only a lowering of morals.
Old person, young mind
We've all encountered delightful older people who are hip, alert, and have a remarkable grasp of what's going on in the world around them. They're a joy to be around.
It may seem light-years away, but you'll be old someday, and so will I (sooner than you, I'll bet). These joy-filled older people haven't compromised their morals, nor have they stubbornly clung to stodgy ways.
You and I can keep growing until the day we die too, if we have the humility and good judgment to keep obsolete thinking from holding us back.