Here in the San Francisco Bay Area we have a train system. If you want to travel from the north of the bay to the south of the bay, you take a BART train (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Many years ago I lived in the East Bay but worked in the city. BART was the fastest and easiest way to get there. I would just get in, sit down, and the train would take me to my expected destination. It was expected because there was a big map on the wall that informed me that if I get on this train, I will go to that destination. Simple.
Our thoughts and their processes are a lot like trains. They have an entry point and an exit point. They also have a set destination if we stay on them long enough.
There are some trains of thought that I love to board. Thoughts of my future adopted child. Thoughts of future goals that I dream about with my husband. Thoughts of upcoming nights out that involve friends and delicious food.
And then there are the trains that I have no business being on. The ones that are all covered in graffiti with broken windows and stained seats. The trains with the questionable looking conductor and the oppressive atmosphere. The fear trains.
These are the thoughts that start out with a news story about a young girl being molested. And then it’s somehow my daughter that’s being molested. And then I play out the scenario in my mind until I’m almost in tears.
Or the train of thought about a suspicious lump. There’s further testing needed to confirm that there is nothing wrong, but up until that time my thoughts may take me all the way to where I am kissing my children goodbye from a hospital bed.
Thoughts about losing a job, caring for a sick child, escaping a deranged criminal, or contracting a contagious new flu are sometimes played out in full screen in our minds – often coming to an unfortunate end.
Here’s the thing about trains. They have several stops before they reach their destination. There are many opportunities to get off the train.
I can get on a BART train bound for San Francisco, and choose to get off in Castro Valley. And just like with our trains of thought, we can (and often SHOULD) get off of the train before it reaches its destination. Sometimes when I find myself starting down a track that is not a healthy or helpful one, I literally picture myself shoving the train right off the track. I don’t want it to reach the end.
Did you know that the fastest train in the world can travel at over 350 miles per hour? Isn’t that sometimes how our negative thoughts can feel? Our mind just touches on a negative thought and next thing we know a full-blown scenario of catastrophic proportions has taken form.
With a steam train, fuel has to be continually shoveled in to keep the train in motion. A steam train of negative thought is often fueled by a steady supply of fear or worry. We may even want the train to stop, but we keep shoveling in the fuel to keep it going.
Never get on a train fueled by fear.
Another interesting thing about negative trains of thought is that you will often find yourself crowded with others on that same train. Packed in like sardines on the 5:15 train headed from the city to the suburbs. Fear does that to people.
But you aren’t a person of fear. You are a person of FAITH.
So when you find yourself being taken down a track you didn’t mean to get on, jump out of the train. Push it off its tracks. However you have to do it. Do it.
On the other hand, positive trains of thought you can ride all day long as far as I’m concerned. Be that person that always says, “I bet it will work out” instead of “this will never work”. Walk in optimism, faith and hope. Get on those trains that are fueled by faith. Believe God even if everyone else is on the other side of the platform waiting for the “it’s impossible” train.
It really is your choice - which trains you let pass and which trains you board. I’m going to do my best not to miss the faith-fueled trains because I am already sitting in a janky old uncomfortable chair on a fear-fueled train. And I’m going to continue to push those negative trains right off the track with the Superman strength I seem to have when I imagine it.
So choose wisely what trains you board. If you remain on that train, it will reach its destination – whether positive or negative.
And remember, you always have a choice to get off.