I have decided that I am going to start working on some of the things on my bucket list. This year I am hoping to complete one item on my list to run a 5K. With the event scheduled for October, I recently downloaded an app on my phone and started training to be able to jog the entire 3.1 miles. I even went and bought some new tennis shoes to keep my excitement level up. My bucket list is full of other goals such as one of my books being listed in Oprah’s Reading Room, but I don’t want to bore you with my list. We all know what a bucket list is, but have you ever heard of an un-bucket list? An un-bucket list contains things you have decided that you will never do.
If I started an Un-bucket List I’m sure I could fill it up just as fast as I could my bucket list. For instance with the upcoming election, I have firmly stated who I will never vote for. The older I get, I have decided that I will never go skydiving or jump out of an airplane. There are also places in the world that I have vowed that I will never visit. There are even people in my life I have decided I would never speak to again. As a parent I have vowed that are certain statements I would never say to my children. Unlike today’s children, I swore I would never be guilty of talking back to my mother.
There are mistakes that we have made in life in which we swear we will never do again. For instance, if you have ever ran out of gas, it is very likely that you will make that mistake again. You may have experienced some close call moments where perhaps you have gone places you shouldn’t have or done things you shouldn’t have. Thankfully God spared you and you promised you would never get yourself in the same situation again.
As a young girl and even as a young adult I naively stated some things that I would never do. Of course I made those statements before I experienced the trials and tribulations of life. For instance, I said that if I got married, I would never get a divorce. I said I would never gain weight. I even said I would never marry a minister again. Truth is, I married and divorced my first husband twice, I have clothes in my closet that are too small and I am currently married to a pastor. So much for what I said I wouldn’t do.
How often have you stated that you will never do something? If you are like me and have done things that you said you would never do, take heart, you are not alone. In the 7th chapter of Romans, the apostle Paul struggles with the same issue. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do (Romans7:15 NIV). Remember what happened to Peter the disciple? Peter boldly declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Matthew 26:35) We know the story, Peter not only denied Jesus, but he denied him three times.
Funny thing, thinking about what we don’t want to do like Paul, may trigger us to do that very thing we don’t want to do. Daniel Wegner, a social psychology professor from Harvard conducted an interesting research project on thought suppression. He asked participants in his project to not think of a white bear. Despite his instructions, participants thought of a white bear more than once per minute. Basically, he concluded that when we deliberately try not to think of something our brain may do just the opposite and bring the very thought to mind. With this information, perhaps we should avoid saying what we will never do.
Here are five suggestions to help you be successful.
1. Reexamine yourself – Ask yourself what are the thoughts regularly going on in my head? Ask yourself, what am I doing that could set me up for failure?
2. Regulate incoming information – We have heard the term garbage in, garbage out. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us to above all else, guard our hearts, for everything we do flows from it.
3. Change your thought patterns - The Bible says as a man thinketh so is he (Proverbs 23:7). We should focus our thoughts on those things suggested in Philippians 4* such as whatever is true, noble, right, pure, love commendable and excellent.
4. Pray positively – According to Robert Schuller negative prayers weakens the believer. We should affirm positively what God is able to do within us.
5. Expect positive results – Have the faith to believe that your prayers will be answered. Remember Matthew 17:30 “If you have faith, all things are possible.
With that being said, I am going to eliminate my list of what I won’t do, and focus on the scripture, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach