You’ve probably heard of Philippians 4:8:
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
But maybe you’re like me and at times you’ve sectioned off the “whatever is true” part. The tape in your mind plays:
“What is true Lord, is that he did that on purpose and I’m really angry at him!”
“It’s not fair.”
“Why do I have to do everything around here. Nobody appreciates me.”
We read verses like Philippians 4:8 and a smooth voice whispers to us that all these thoughts we are thinking are true, so dwell, dwell, dwell on them.
And we do.
And we even pray about these thoughts, sometimes only to grow in our anger and outrage at whatever injustice has been done to us. We roll around in what is true and forget all about the rest of the verse.
What is true? Edith Taylor knew the secret.
Edith Taylor had thought to herself that she was “the luckiest girl on the block”. She was still madly in love with her husband of 23 years. Edith had been faithfully by her husband Karl’s side as he waded through the deep waters of depression and job loss. She stayed up late at night dreaming with him about the house they might someday own.
Karl gave every impression that he was a man in love with his wife. Even when away for work, he had never ceased to write letters and postcards, sometimes three times a day to his loving wife. Then came a job transfer to a new warehouse in far away Japan.
A Year passed and the letters home came fewer and fewer until the day Karl told the truth.
“Dear Edith. I wish there were a kinder way to tell you that we are no longer married…”
Karl sent divorce papers to Edith and wrote to tell her that he had taken a 19 year old Japanese maid as his new wife. Edith was 48.
How easily she could have hated him. Sought out to destroy him. Belittling his memory in front of their children. But she didn’t.
She held out hope for the love of her life. That he would someday return to her and to their children. She purposed to think the best of him and continued to write him. For years he wrote her back. How her heart most have broken a million times over to read his letters filled with details of a life stolen from her.
Then one day he wrote with the sad news: he was dying of lung cancer.
Edith would never again look upon his face or witness the heartfelt reunion she had longed for.
He penned words of fear and worry for the family he would leave behind in Japan. All his savings had been swallowed up by medical bills. His children and his wife would be abandoned to a future of poverty and strife.
Edith did the unthinkable. She gave this undeserving man a gift of peace on his deathbed. She offered to take his children into her home in America.
A few months after Karl’s death they came. And Edith’s heart swelled with love for them. But she knew there was one more thing to do. She must bring the children’s’ real mother here too.
Aiko Taylor arrived on a plane sometime later and as Edith embraced her she did the opposite of what the world expects. She did not unleash the rage and fury of a betrayed woman. Perhaps because she had not spent the past years dwelling on all the wrongs done to her.
Instead she prayed.
“Help me,” with her eyes tight shut. “Help me to love this girl, as if she were part of Karl come home. I prayed for him to come back. Now he has—in his two little daughters and in this gentle girl that he loved. Help me, God, to know that.”
Do you dwell on your earthly labels? Maybe ones that you did nothing to deserve?
Thank you God for knowing us well enough not to stop at what is true here on earth. Dwell on what is true BUT ALSO honorable, right, pure, lovely, good, excellent, and praiseworthy. Those are thoughts that can safely saturate our thinking. Thoughts that invite a holy encounter with a soul changing redeemer. One who can turn any Mess into a message . Jesus.
And when Jesus enters the picture:
You can give to those who only took from you.
You can have joy in the face of heartbreak.
You can love those you should have hated.
Question: Which of God’s truths is most important to you? That you are wanted, made for a purpose, protected, never alone, or loved?
Read more of Edith Taylor’s story HERE.