Suffering is inevitable but torment is entirely optional. In the course of each of our lives, we encounter pain and loss. What we choose to do with those experiences determines whether our lives fill with satisfaction or regret.
My name is Joel Townsend. I live in Knoxville, Tennessee with my wife of thirty-eight years. We have four grown children and five grandchildren.
I have an unusually broad history of careers. Most importantly, I have a background as a pastor and have always maintained a “pastor’s heart.” Beyond that, I taught high school; I managed manufacturing plants; I owned a computer training company, and I was a stockbroker. I have worked as a software developer and technical manager.
My largest endeavor, by far, was designing and building a “green” business. The business had the capacity to grow nearly 20,000 pounds of fish per year. The fish wastewater, in turn, provided fertilizer for about 300,000 units of USDA Organic, Hydroponic leaf lettuce annually. “Greater Growth, LLC,” received very positive attention in the region. Unfortunately, the business failed financially and did so quite dramatically.
I struggled with forgiving myself. The failure became a touchstone for a lifetime of self-doubt. I engaged in self-talk, endlessly criticizing myself for poor choices and judging myself incompetent. Any idle moment filled with ruminations of my troubles. I read the Bible and prayed; I read books; I sought counsel with pastors and friends, all to no avail. On the advice of a friend, I picked up a book on mindfulness. I finished the book and realized that I had gained an entirely new perspective on my life. I also recognized that mindfulness applied fundamental truths of the Christian faith Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. I did more research and began practicing mindfulness techniques. As I started practicing some simple exercises, I regained my devotional life. Incredibly, issues with self-talk and rumination stopped in about five days.
Suffering is universal; it is inevitable to the human condition. On the other hand, torment is an emotion that occurs when our thoughts turn selfishly introspective. As we respond with the mind of Christ, however, we gain grace, peace and the wisdom that comes from above.
“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3 NASB).