I remember the vibrant sounds of cicadas during summer evenings. The sound was unlike anything I had ever heard. It started slowly and quietly, and grew louder as more cicadas added their voices to welcome the evening hours.
I was fascinated by them. While it was obvious by their sound that they were roosting nearby, I never could catch a glimpse of them. As I grew older, I learned that they shed their skins. It became a game to see how many skins we could find and attach to our shirts.
Several years ago, we discovered one of these interesting bugs on the tree in our front yard. It was shedding its skin. We were so fascinated, and spent hours watching it and taking pictures. Usually, we only saw the end result: a crunchy bug-shaped skin left behind. It was amazing to watch the shedding actually happen right before our eyes.
For years, the sound of cicadas meant glorious summer.
It brought to mind summers spent camping with my family and grandparents. Once the cicadas started singing, the “lightning bugs” would soon appear and we could attempt to catch them.
It meant stretching my legs as far as they would reach to step in the footprints left by my Daddy as I followed him in our summer garden.
It meant riding my bike barefoot and with no hands on the handlebars.
It meant working hard to wash the dirt off the bottom of my feet before bed.
It was the burst of blackberry juice as I popped one in my mouth while picking blackberries for a cobbler my grandmother would make from scratch.
It was the smell of the Noxzema I smoothed on my hot, sunburned skin.
The sound of cicadas reminded me of all things summer.
But, then I stopped hearing them.
Or, maybe, I just quit noticing them.
Nearly three years ago, standing in the parking lot of a hospital, I heard them again. Their song started slowly and quietly, and grew louder and louder until we almost had to shout at one another to hear over their din. But, the sound didn’t remind me of the sweet memories of summer. It only made me sad.
You see, we were at the hospital because my mother was ill. Her three-hour surgery had turned into eight hours. And, then she spent eight days in ICU….twenty-one days total in the hospital. Her diagnosis was stage 4 cancer. So, while our world was turning upside-down, and our hearts were breaking, the cicadas started singing.
And now, when I hear them, I think of that day.
But, that is NOT what I want.
So, I am working to train my mind to CHOOSE to remember the things I love. Did you know we can do that?
2 Corinthians 10:5 (NASB) says, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (emphasis mine)
Take every thought captive. We can CHOOSE to bring our thoughts under control. We can CHOOSE what we want to dwell on in our minds.
Philippians 4:8 (NASB) “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
So, when the cicadas sing, I’m going to CHOOSE to remember the sweet times of summer: bare feet and suntan lines, fishing and gardening, picking blackberries and catching lightning bugs.
And, I am going to CHOOSE to remember the times we spent in the hospital with my mother three years ago. I am going to CHOOSE to celebrate the fact that she is still with us….nearly three years later….still fighting, still living, still loving us.
The cicadas work hard to shed their old skins, and with God’s help, we can work hard to challenge our negative thoughts.
***In the comments, what triggers negative thoughts in you? What have you found that helps combat those negative thoughts and feelings? ***