I received this e-mail this morning:
IMPORTANT INFORMATION—PLEASE READ CAREFULLY:
High temperatures and humidity are predicted for Saturday. These conditions put runners at increased risk for heat-related problems. Please remember to stay well-hydrated and monitor yourself. You may need to slow your pace and/or take other suitable precautions to minimize the risk of heat-related problems.
On Saturday, I am running a race with 35,000 other people. The race organizers can’t personally watch each and every one of us, run along side, tell us to drink, tell us to slow down or make us be careful. The best they can do is to warn us of the danger, and have people at various points along the route offering hydration, watching for those that are struggling, and offer first aid if the need arises.
So, basically the most important words in this whole message are: monitor yourself.
Only I will know if I need to slow down. Only I will know when I need to drink more. Only I will know what is happening in my body. When it gets to the point that someone else notices there is something wrong, it is because I have not monitored myself, or I haven’t listened to my body and things have gotten out of control.
I think the same is true for so many other things in our life. Secret sin. Pride. Mental health. Physical health. Spiritual health. We are the ones who have to be always watching, always alert to what is happening inside of us. We are the ones who should be noticing the first hint that something is off kilter in any area. We shouldn’t have to wait for someone else to point out issues that need attention.
Yet, often, that is exactly what happens. For example, your temper is very short. You don’t even realize just how short until one of your kids says, “Mommy, why are you yelling at me all the time.” And then you feel bad and start to analyze what is going on that would bring you to that point. Maybe you’ve had a stressful week and you haven’t been able to get your regular exercise or devotions in. Maybe your husband has been short with you and you are responding to that. No matter what, it is something that you could have caught and stopped if you had been monitoring yourself.
I read this from The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg this week:
Impulses formed in the brain can be measured during neurosurgery. I decide that I am going to move my hand, and then that impulse travels to the hand. But in between the brain activity and the movement of the hand, there is what one researcher calls the “life-giving quarter-second.”
There is a quarter-second between when that impulse takes place in your brain and when that action takes place in your body. And that quarter-second–although it doesn’t sound like very long in the life of the mind–is huge. The apostle Paul wrote, “In your anger do not sin…and do not give the devil a foothold.” That quarter-second is the time when the Holy Spirit can take control. That is when you can give the foothold to the Holy Spirit or you can give it to sin. That one quarter-second in your mind can be an opportunity to say, “Spirit, I’ve got this impulse right now; should I act on it?”
It was a long hot day, the car had broken down once, the air conditioning wasn’t working, the kids weren’t behaving, and Nancy wasn’t being too good either. I tried enticing the kids into “the quiet game,” but they weren’t going for it. I got lost. I was frustrated. The kids spilled food. Finally, the noise level went beyond what I could bear. There was a life-giving quarter-second, but I blew right past it. I wasn’t interested. And I used language on my kids that I had never used before, that I never thought I would.
It is amazing how the desire to hurt someone you love can be so strong in your body one moment and then lead to such pain when you indulge it. But another piece of good news is that when you blow it–and you will blow it–God sends another quarter-second right behind.
And you can get right back into the flow.
We constantly have the opportunity to make choices. Choices about what we wear. Choices about what we say. Choices about how we react. And the more aware of who we are and what is going on inside of us, the more we are able to make better choices. Choices that build up. Choices that give encouragement. Choices that show love.
I will definitely be monitoring how I am doing on race day this Saturday. But even more importantly, I will be working to monitor what is going on in my heart and mind always.
How well do you do at monitoring yourself?