Sometimes the divine mystery has to work very hard to help me understand a concept. Here is a thought conditioner, one of the short scriptures in a booklet that John and I memorized one year as part of our Lenten practice.
Be strong and of good courage. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. —Joshua 1:9
I took this thought conditioner into my mind and into my heart, but I could not really overcome my fears. They continued to be a force that held me back. I was going to need to hear this scripture over and over again in order to allow it to really sink in.
When our kids were little, they participated in Vacation Bible School every summer. The program that our parish used always included songs that the children performed for their parents on the final night of VBS. John and I always helped out with VBS, and so we would hear those little songs over and over and over again. Everyone in our family has some of these songs that they can still sing. For me, one that sticks in my head went
Be strong and courageous…Do not be afraid. Be strong and courageous…Do not be afraid.
The song had hand motions that the children had to learn, so over and over and over they would sing the song. It stuck in my head and I still, all these years later, find myself singing it to myself occasionally. Sometimes, when I am facing a frightening task, the words (and hand motions) pop into my head. As it has become part of me through repetition over the years, I have grown braver and more certain that God is with me wherever I go. I have come to see the power available to me in this thought conditioner.
I am grateful that God is so good. I was unable to internalize this thought conditioner just by reading it and memorizing it, so God provided an easy way for it to seep right into my subconscious mind and do its good work. In such a gentle way, I have been given strength and courage . My trust and faith that God will be there to get me through the hard times has grown and strengthened with very little effort on my part. All I had to do was allow myself to sing this easy little children’s song when it popped into my head.
I don’t know how many of the children who attended VBS that year and learned this song have been strengthened by having it in their subconscious minds, but I know that my children can still sing it. I am amazed to realize that this song, and the other songs from those VBS lessons, are still doing their work after all these years. What a wonderful legacy those summer hours of VBS have given us. God is so good to have given me the blessing of being part of it, the blessing of learning to grow stronger and more courageous and to begin to be no longer afraid.