Something I’ve been working on a lot lately is my thought life. As a chronic over-thinker, this has been a major trap for me in the past. More recently, working with my mentor, we’ve been working on the skills I need to conquer this rock.
Essentially, it works like this:
- I have a thought that moves me out of peace.
- I pin down what thought (or thoughts) it is.
- I recognize the lie in it.
- I kick it out.
- Repeat as needed.
It’s kind of like The Matrix. Satan has a reality he wants me to live in, but truthfully it’s not real. When I buy into his lies, I let it exist. Ultimately, though, it doesn’t. Or as one of the child prodigies from the movie says:
There are a few things that have been fueling these attitudes in me lately.
First, wanting to align with Jesus.
In high school, when I first really started living my life for God, one of the major things I realized was that though I had been a Christian my whole life, would tell people I was a Christian, my life didn’t match up. I was mean and cynical and, sadly, proud of it. If cutting, jaded Abby was what the world wanted, that was what I said they would get.
Except, that’s not what Jesus wanted (thank God!), and when I looked at what a Christian life should look like, joyful, peaceful, etc., that’s what I wanted, too. I started watching my tongue, trying to be kind, and with His power, everything changed.
Now as an adult, I’m seeing some of those patterns still exist.
I don’t want to live like that. Jesus needs to have my thoughts.
So this doesn’t get too abstract, I’ll give you an example.
- Someone says some off-handed comment that strikes something in me just the right (or rather, wrong) way.
- Emotional tail-spin.
- Someone says some off-handed comment.
- Curve towards tail-spin.
- Freedom (and forgiveness as needed).
- Note: Step four can take a lot of rinse and repeating as mentioned above, but it is way worth it.
- Additional note: The better I get at this, the faster I get at steps two and three.
Of course, the first step in all of this is recognizing the thoughts in the first place. I know for me they come in a variety of forms and sources, both internal and external, old and new, subtle or strong.
The main thing is to recognize when they knock me out of my peace. Because as a Christian, my peace is already promised and paid for. If I’m not taking advantage of it, if I’m not at peace, I’m listening to something untrue.
Note: I want to be clear this isn’t the same as smothering or ignoring negative emotions. Negative emotions are crucial to us being healthy humans. What I am saying is that once I process them with God, I should, ultimately and always, return to peace. If I don’t, there’s still something untruthful there.
A few other things I’d like to add about this topic before I close, since apparently I’m in a big list mood today:
- Denying lies is not the same as wishful thinking or denial. If I’m in the financial pits, me thinking I’m not is not going to change the fact I still need dough. Believing that God is my provider and that He will take care of me, however, will remove the fear and stress that comes from that situation. It’s not about denying circumstances, it’s about seeing them clearly.
- In order to do this well, I have to be willing to let go of what I see and believe. Like in high school, it’s not about living the reality and course I would naturally follow, but examining the life of Jesus, the life he promises me, and shaping my thoughts and beliefs to align with those promises. This isn’t blind faith, belief without reason, but belief on the foundation of the miracles and experiences He has threaded throughout my life, the evidence I see that He is real and true and truthful to what He promises in His word.
- This is a fight, daily. Therefore, being equipped is not only helpful, but essential. Reading and studying God’s word, even having physical reminders throughout the day like scriptures or art that remind me of them, has been foundational to my ability to do this. It gives me the tools and truths I need to fight these thoughts, reminding and telling me what is actually true about God, others, and myself. It is necessary, and I truly believe the more I get into those truths, the better at this I will become. (Eph. 6:10-18).
- I need God to do this. Sticking close to Him is the best and easiest way to ensure my ability to fight, and if that means being watchful of what I take in or do to keep Him close, that’s what I need to do.
So, with all of those being said, may the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
Let’s get ‘er done.
P.S. Special thanks to my mentor for helping me with this! I pray God blesses her richly.
Do you have any experience with thought patterns, for better or worse? What did that look like and how did they form? Let me know in the comments below and if you’d like, follow the blog!