Higher Than My Ways

starry-night

You might call it mustard colored, but I see my new journal as saffron, a beautiful shade of golden yellow. I bought it at the Time Out for Women Conference in Columbia this past weekend, and I’m reserving it to record thoughts and impressions that take me “higher.”

Let me explain. The conference theme was based on a verse from the Old Testament, Isaiah 55:9: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” The moment I read “so are my ways higher than your ways” on the front of the journal, I recalled a chilly autumn afternoon as I sat beside my father’s bedside.

My family and I had come home for the weekend, and upon our arrival, I learned that my father had been hospitalized for an upper respiratory ailment, the same one that would take his life years later. As I walked into the room that afternoon, I could see that he was sleeping peacefully so I didn’t disturb him. This was back in the days before e-readers and iPhones so I was stuck with sitting there with my thoughts, none of them good. Having never seen my father so fragile and weak, I was distraught with worry and concern.

I picked up a Gideon Bible and began thumbing through it. Almost immediately I came across the verse from Isaiah. I read it again…and then again. “Hmm,” I thought. “This is so true. I don’t like it, but it’s true nonetheless. He’s God, and I’m just a mortal living down here on Earth.”

Since that Saturday afternoon in my father’s hospital room, I’ve quipped those phrases to almost any and everyone who is suffering and can make no sense of it. My precious daughter had a stillborn baby, and there I was with, “For as the heavens….” I don’t know whether that comforted her or not, but it was the only thing that made sense to me (us) at the time. More times that I can recount, I’ve thought, “The heavens and His ways are higher. You just don’t have the big picture, Jayne.”

But here’s what happened Saturday. The light came on and now I see that verse in a different and more enlightened way. I often tell people to “go for it,” to use their gifts, and now I can see how this scripture applies to positive aspects of our lives too. We can’t possibly know or see what He does, but we can be certain that His plans and thoughts are higher than ours.

When I was a younger person, I often heard the expression, “I know I’m somebody ’cause God don’t make no junk.” At the time, I thought it was catchy and cool, both because of the way the phrase was worded and because of the sentiment itself. This weekend’s conference echoed basically the same thing. You and I are somebody. Isaiah 43:1 says, “I have called thee by name; thou art mine.” We are His. He has plans for us and thoughts about us. We need to find out what they are and move forward in faith.

Here on Earth there is sickness, frailty, contention, distress, and aging. There are weeds and spiders and sour milk and cancer. Stress abounds and so do chaos, loss, tragedy, difficult people, and things that go bump in the night. Heaven is higher. That’s where He is with His thoughts, ways, and plans for us.

When heartache comes along (as it surely will), the knowledge that His thoughts and ways are higher than ours can be comforting. What’s equally awesome is knowing that the same thing is true for positive events. To reach “higher,” we might have to stretch a little, but that’s a post for another day.

Thank you, Mrs. Peale

Thank you, Mrs. Norman Vincent Peale. Because of your faith in your husband’s message, you took his manuscript to a publisher who saw its merit. Because you didn’t give up when your husband was ready to throw in the towel, millions have read and benefitted from The Power of Positive Thinking.


Thank you, Mrs. Norman Vincent Peale. Because of your faith in your husband’s message, you took his manuscript to a publisher who saw its merit. Because you didn’t give up when your husband was ready to throw in the towel, millions have read and benefitted from The Power of Positive Thinking.

Getting this manuscript to a publisher was no simple feat. After having it rejected several times, Dr. Peale tossed it in the trashcan and forbade his wife to remove it. She was in a dilemma. Not wanting to disrespect her husband’s wishes and yet knowing the power of his message, she decided to take the trashcan containing the discarded manuscript to another publisher. That one said YES, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Power of Positive Thinking was first published in 1952 and continues to be a best seller. I’m fortunate enough to have a 1st edition on my bookshelf, and I refer to it quite often. When discussing the merits of cognitive psychology in my introductory class, I often quote Peale’s famous quote to, “Change your thoughts and you change your world.” That’s a lot easier said than done sometimes, but I’d rather try it than wallow in miserable thoughts.

While I have been encouraged and uplifted by Dr. Peale’s words many ties, I’m just as impressed with his wife Ruth’s strength and personality. Without her determination, tenacity, and faith, this magnificent book might have never come to fruition. So often we hear, “You can’t,” or, “It’s already been done.” When we push through despite the naysayers and stumble a bit, there are always those who say, “The handwriting’s on the wall. It’s not happening for you!”

Don’t these people realize that people need encouragement? Everyone needs someone in his corner who will give hope and confidence, someone who will infuse him with courage. In Dr. Peale’s case, I think his wife had more faith in his work than he did. In an interview towards the end of her 101-year-old life, she said that she didn’t have as much doubt as he did. I loved reading that. It told me that even one of the positive thinkers of the 20th century sometimes faltered but with the support of someone who believed in him, Dr. Peale ultimately succeeded.

Perseverance and persistence are important. So are encouragement and support. Is there someone in your life whom you can infuse with courage (encourage) to JUST DO IT?