The verse that changed my life: by Ann Dorsey

When I was growing up my mom often shared this story from her life with me. From it she taught me that God calls me - us! - to focus not on the negative things in other people, but on what is good, true and beautiful about them.

Recently Mom sent me this story in written form and I'm pleased to be able to share it with you. 

Mom writes:

"My hardest battles were fought in my teen years.  They were inner conflicts that made all future outer inconveniences and problems seem easy.  I will never forget the process that helped me get back my life and my happiness.  God used my mother and her visit to my bedroom with a Bible verse to rescue me. 

Before and after my teen years, I loved my dad and had a very meaningful relationship with him.  He was a local medical doctor and I helped him after high school at his office. There we got along fine but at home it was a different story.  I spent a lot of time being angry and frustrated with him.   He was strict and expected a lot out of me.  That didn’t always sit too well.  On top of that, he didn’t handle his own frustrations and anger appropriately, but took them out on my mom - a habit I found most inexcusable.   While I didn’t confront him on anything, I spent a lot of time being quiet and building walls so that he could never, ever get close to me.  I also escaped unnecessarily to my bedroom  under the pretense of doing homework, but actually brooded there over my dismal lot in life, blaming my dad for most of my perceived troubles.  There was very little he could do to please  me.

The evening that changed the course of my life was very regular except my mom invaded my bedroom, Bible in hand, to talk to me.  I don’t think she stayed long.  What I remember is that she left me with a verse and a challenge to think about it in connection with my relationship with my dad.  The verse was Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brothers, whatsoever things are true.  whatsoever things are honest,  whatsoever things are just,  whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,  whatsoever things are of good report;  if there be any virtue,  and if there be any praise,  think on these things.”  

If God said something, I knew I needed to and wanted to obey.  But how could I?  Try as I may, there was not one thing that I could think of good about my dad.  Nothing. 

Finally after a good day or so, I came up with something - I could honestly say that “he was a good doctor to his patients.”  That was a start.  A tiny crack in the cement walls I had erected and that separated us had, unknown to myself, begun.  Several days later, still dutifully trying to find something to praise in him, I realized that he fed, housed and clothed all of our family, including, of course, myself.  Somehow I started to see that, although not demonostrative in his love, his hard and diligent work was his way of saying, “I love you.”  Once I had honestly given him these items of acknowledgment, I found to my great surprise that my heart was kindlier toward him. Trying to have my mind dwell there, I discovered more good and praiseworthy things  came to my mind  regularly.  As my attitude improved, he became approachable as a person and we were able to rebuild a most meaningful friendship and love that lasted the rest of his life.

I remember finally being able to give my dad a hug and mean it.  I didn’t have to wait for him to initiate it as the adult and parent, I was free to do so.  Of course, he responded in kind.   But for obeying that verse when I didn’t see how I could, I never would have ended up with the freedom of a loving relationship.  

God used my dear mom.   God used a well selected verse from the Bible.   The hardness of my heart was turned from dwelling on the dark side of things to basking in the light.  If there is one good thing to think of out of a multitude of bad, God says think on that.  Stay there.  Dwell there.  Begin a life-changing  habit today. God gives us the healthiest way to think and in thinking to live. He wants to give you (and your children) joy and freedom just as He gave them to me."