And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8
Did you know that there have been psychological studies that reveal that our brains search for evidence of the things that we think and ponder about?
Let's say that you wake up late one morning, jump out of bed, and stub your toe. Out of frustration, you say, "Today is going to be terrible!" Well, now your brain is looking for evidence for anything it can that could be perceived to be terrible to prove that the day is going to be what you said it would be. But let's take the same situation and change the reaction. Instead of thinking and exclaiming, "Today is going to be terrible!" you say something like, "Well, the rest of the day will be better." Then your brain searches for evidence of good things, things perceived as better than waking and stubbing your toe. We go from potentially having a bad day full of negativity and "terrible" things to flipping the script and seeing the good around us and having a good day.
There is great power in our thoughts.
The thoughts that we entertain and repeat become written on our hearts.
From our heart, the mouth speaks.
And I believe we all know how powerful the tongue is.
But it all begins with what we entertain in our minds.
Paul is telling us not to waste the precious time we have, don't use up the mental space we have on things that will only weigh us down and leave us empty.
A little while back, one of our Pastors preached a message about the power of choice.
In life, we are constantly faced with choices to be made, some loftier than others.
Our choices have always revealed certain things about us and shaped our character to some degree.
We often look at choices as decisions to be made in what food we will eat and what styles we like.
But we also have the ability to choose our thoughts.
Sounds weird, I know.
I battled with the concept myself.
IF I COULD CHOOSE NOT TO THINK/ FEEL THIS WAY, I OBVIOUSLY WOULD!
"Take your thoughts captive!"
BUT MY THOUGHTS HAVE MADE A CAPTIVE OF ME!
Sometimes we have to wrestle with the mess in front of us to really begin to untangle things and understand what we are dealing with.
Well, wrestling isn't pretty. You're weaknesses get exploited as you are trying to fight your way through to some kind of victory. It's exhausting. But most things that lead to breakthrough are.
In my wrestling match with the choice of our thinking, I remember having a come apart.
At the time, I would have said it was a meltdown. Now I see it as an intervention. Maybe it was both. I went back and forth about getting on medication for anxiety and depression because I was utterly consumed and overwhelmed by life. I want to go ahead and say that there is nothing wrong with taking prescribed medications. I am not against medical treatments for mental illnesses. But just as the medication has a job to do, we also play a part. I was at the gym with one of my best friends and just started crying about being scared to be put on medication. Not because I was scared of being on something, but because I was scared of the change. I had accepted and lived with these things long enough that I began to identify them as a part of myself. Anxiety made me quirky and funny. Depression made me a deep thinker and was the kindling for myself, depreciating humor. I was terrified to lose a part of me, even if it was harming me.
Addicted. Addicted to the hurt and the pain.
I felt my purpose was rooted from my pain and hurt.
So without it, how could I be useful to God?
In that very socially awkward experience of crying in the gym-
(an emotional and spiritual workout)
God revealed to me that I was dressing up an "I don't truly want to…" with a "I don't know how to.."
What started as a WWE wrestling match, superficial.. became very real. God continued to use that experience to refine me in my obedience to Him. To speak into that my purpose and worth isn't derived from my trials but from who He says I am, and my purpose is what He calls me to.
That while I am constantly being transformed, I am chosen by Him, and I now I needed to choose Him and continue to choose Him.
This brings me back to the point- We have to make a choice. Can we choose whether or not we have chemical imbalances that make us more susceptible to this way of thinking? No. That's where medication helps. But whether you struggle with mental illness or not- we constantly have to make a choice in our thinking. We choose the things that we watch, read, listen to. Those things leak into how we think and what we entertain in our minds. This is why you hear people stress the importance of knowing scripture and reading the Bible. Because then God's word is written on our hearts. His word and way become the standard, and we then can strive to make our thoughts obedient to His word. Our minds will search for evidence of Godly and Christ-like ways.
Satan will use any way He can to try and deter us and destroy us. He sneaks in as a thought. He treats our lives as if it was a game. Luckily, He is playing checkers while Our God is playing Chess.
Our thoughts determine our steps. Our steps are being watched and followed.
What are you entertaining? What choices are you making?
Will you choose to set your mind on things above, those things that are eternal?
Or are your choices bonded in your flesh and ever-fleeting?
When we are faced with choices, let us strive to choose whatever is glorifying to God. Let us consistently and unwaveringly set forth to choose God the way that He chose us.