Thoughts on Thinking
One of the most helpful things someone said to me recently was this: “Bekah, you are actually doing a lot better job in life than you think that you are.”
This one sentence stopped the crazy train that can become my mind. This mind of mine that battles anxiety daily needs constant truth. And this truth made me recognize that I was allowing myself to dwell on unhealthy things. Things I had no control over. Things that were not mine to control. Things I really had no responsibility to even try and control. Plus, it made me realize that even though sometimes I may “feel” crazy, I am actually doing more okay than I may “feel” … and that is a praiseworthy thing!
You see, the “crazy train” can be triggered by so many things in all our worlds: an ill-timed word from a coworker, a misunderstood comment from a family member, an unkind customer service rep, an unrequited message in a dating app, etc. These types of things can send us down some unhealthy and unhelpful trails in our minds, can’t they?
But the key thing that we all must remember is this: we have a choice – a choice of what thoughts we dwell on, what thoughts we let choose to stay rolling around in our minds.
Think with me for a few moments about thinking. Thinking has the power to change your mood, your faith, your relationships, your work, really everything in your world!
Usually, this is the part where most preachers will bring up 2 Cor. 10:5 “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” – great verse, but here’s my issue: they usually never say HOW we are to do this as believers!
I always wrestled to practically understand and apply the verse! I wanted to, I just didn’t how. It wasn’t until I went to counseling and said aloud my longtime struggle with anxiety, that I got any deep understanding of this verse. In counseling, I was able to get to some of the root lies I had been believing, and low and behold experience some victory.
I learned the two biggest game-changers in this battle for the mind are 1) confession and 2) truth replacement. It is critical to get out what the lie is that you are believing about yourself, about God, about the world, about your circumstances, etc. And then, and only then, can you replace it with what is true
As a verbal processor, I know it is easy for me to get tangled up in my mind if I don’t talk about it or write things out. And of course, with the pandemic, things have looked well...different. A lot of time alone for me can easily lead to stress, worry, sadness, and a whole lot of confusion. If I don’t work it out well. But when I am choosing wisdom and self-care, I find safe places and people to work out my salvation by confessing the lies I’m wresting against.
And secondarily, I’ve seen that truth needs to be put into our minds, both offensively and defensively. The offensive part is when we ask good, honest questions of ourselves and others (using resources like the X-ray questions or John Wesley’s self-examination questions), and the defensive aspect is why we sing hymns, play uplifting music in the car, memorize Scripture, and pray regularly.
The thing is: You and I have a choice of whether to let the crazy train of thoughts run rampant and steal our joy and our peace. But we must be active in this mental battle, not passive. I believe this is what Paul meant when he said, “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). He wants us to actively join the Spirit in dwelling on thoughts that “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable” (Phil. 4:8).
Now, I am not saying this is easy. No, not at all - trust me, I know! When anxiety (or other overwhelming thoughts) rear their ugly head, they can get the best of you!
But I also know that Jesus is King, not anxiety, not other people, not social media, not a pandemic, not governments, not media - nope, I believe, know, and trust Jesus to be King. So, let’s remember: It matters what we think. And because of that, we need to start thinking well!