I must admit that I do gravel a lot in thinking about my thoughts. It has been a habit of mine down through the years. Thinking is what really makes life worth living, or so I believe.
My father had a saying whenever he saw me staring off into the distance, “A penny for your thoughts, son.” Then he would smile, and I knew he really was not interested in what I was thinking he was just trying to set some kind of trap for me. Fortunately, I never fell into that trap, whatever it was. Of course, at the time I could’ve used an extra penny.
One of my favorite writers, when I was young, was a man by the name of James Thurber. He was blind, but he was one of the great writers of his day. He would think his thoughts about the story he was working on all day long, then sit down with his secretary, tell her the story from memory, and write it down.
On one occasion, Thurber and his wife were having dinner with some friends. Mrs. Thurber looked at her husband and saw that stare that was so familiar to her and she said, “James, stop writing and join us here on earth.”
I am afraid I can relate to Mr. Thurber along these lines. When working on a project, it is tough for me not to think about that project all the time. What is most disturbing to me is that I get a brilliant thought for the project I am working on when I am with a company of people, maybe having lunch or something. A thought I cannot afford to lose. On several occasions, I excused myself and went to the men’s room to jot down those thoughts.
Some thoughts are worth the effort.
In thinking about this, I remember a story that Frank W. Boreham (an Australian pastor and author) once told. He was referring to one of the elderly women in his church and described her as, “Someone who never had an unexpressed thought in her life.” Meaning, of course, she talked all the time.
I have discovered two kinds of people in this world; one who talks all the time and one who listens. Of course, there is that third category of people who don’t do either.
I have tried to balance this throughout my life. I have tried to talk when necessary and listen when necessary. However, my biggest flaw is that I listen when I should be talking, and I talk when I should be listening. If this isn’t frustrating, I do not know what is.
Since I have an MR degree in marriage, I have tried to work on this.
The big challenge is to know when to listen and when to talk. As I get older, I find myself talking more than I’m listening. This, in and of itself, gets me into more trouble than I can handle.
The other day, my wife and I were watching a little television, and she was telling me about an incident that day. She paused and then said, “Are you listening to me?”
No matter how long you’ve had that MR degree try never to not listen when your wife is talking. She may have a quiz later on.
“Are you listening to me?” She said somewhat sarcastically.
Stuttering a little bit, I said, “Why, yes, I’m listening to you.”
“Okay,” she said, “what was I talking about?”
At that point, I knew I was in trouble because I may have been listening to her, but I did not really hear what she had to say.
We have in our society today something called “Social Distancing,” but in my house, I am infected with “Hearing Distancing.” This has gotten me into more trouble than anything else has.
It is not that I do not want to listen to my wife; I sometimes forget to pay attention. After all, when you are as broke as I am, paying attention is very difficult. I do try to save pennies on rainy days so that I can occasionally afford to pay attention.
The other day I got caught in a trap. I should know better, but sometimes I let my guard down, and there it is, I am stuck.
We again were watching a little television, and I, for some reason, was staring off into outer space. My wife noticed that, and then she said, “A penny for your thoughts.”
Without thinking, and I do this quite a bit, I replied, “You don’t have enough pennies for what I’m thinking.” I don’t know why I said it. Maybe I was trying to make a joke. Regardless of the reason, I was in deep trouble.
She stared at me for a few moments, and then both of us broke down in laughter. I will not reveal what she said next, but it was appropriate.
In my quiet time this morning, I thought about that incident. I thought about how important thoughts are. Then I thought about what David said, “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:17).
However important my thoughts may be, the most important thoughts are the thoughts God has concerning me. Searching the Scriptures, I begin to see what God thinks about me.
Dr. James L. Snyder, is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores. James is an award winning author whose books are available at https://amzn.to/2SMOjwO.