Learning the unforced rhythms of grace

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Check Your Settings

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default setting:  A particular setting that is assigned automatically and remains in effect unless canceled or overridden by the operator. 


My oven turns off after 10 minutes of baking cookies. Default setting. It bugs me every time, but I continue to just reset the oven in between each batch of cookies. I need to figure out how to change it. After six years of baking cookies this way, perhaps it’s time.

So I asked myself, what are the ‘default settings’ of my mind?

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your MIND and with all your  strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31) Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

  • SCENARIOMy husband comments about a project that is not going well.
  • My default thought: I will now ‘help’ him find a solution.
  • My default sentences: “Have you tried . . .?” “What about . . .?” “Why don’t you . . .?” 
  • The result: He wasn’t actually asking for my help. He is gracious enough to listen to my ideas as I assume I have now joined the team. I jump in with great passion and enthusiasm with my underlining goal to help him feel better (and ultimately me too). If my ‘help’ is not taken, or appreciated, something resentful and pressure-like begins to emerge in my tone of voice.  It is all very subtle but it leaves both he and I feeling worse afterwards.

Common sense says, “Well, then change your default settings”.  Okay, let’s try it.

  • SCENARIO: My husband comments about a project that is not going well.
  • NEW thought: I will listen, respecting his ability to come up with a solution.
  • NEW sentence: “That sounds difficult.” “What do you want to do?” “Let me know if I can help.”
  • NEW result: The problem remains my husbands. He now feels supported and respected. He now doesn’t have to accommodate someone else joining the ‘committee’; he is free to solve it himself. I am free to continue with my own to-do list with an awareness of his concern and open to helping him as needed. By the way, I showed him this before posting it - and he liked it. :)

If I want to change the default setting on my oven, I need to admit that it is not working. It needs changing. I must either look it up in the manual, check on-line, or try a bunch of things to figure it out. I realized this week, that changing default settings is humbling. (I should know how to work an oven. It’s embarrassing, in a weird way, that I keep doing the same thing without changing it. )

A prayer for both you and I this week . . .

“Lord, fear, pride and stubbornness keep us stuck. We know things are not working. We allow the default settings to continue to run our lives. The fight for our souls is deep and dark and light all at the same time. The enemy wants us to ignore the ability that we have to change the settings. He wants us to think that we are stuck, unable to change, unable to think, and unable to choose love over control, respect over dishonor, and humility over self-protection. Thank you that we are free. Give us courage to check our defaults and choose new ways. Give us sharp and clear minds to discern. Give us humility to admit we need to change. And most of all change us! It is Your Holy Spirit that renews our minds. So, as we open the settings of our lives to you, show us what is on default and help us to choose otherwise. May we feel the fresh winds of change and power in our lives as we allow you to transform us from the inside out. You are good and can be trusted. Amen.” 

(And now, time for me to go figure out the oven.)