It’s amazing to me how little I know. I think I know so much…but when it comes right down to it, I’m limited. A few years ago I went through a storm. It lasted what seemed like forever! It was 7 years long. My marriage of 13+ years and 4 children crumbled in a horrific way. That story is for another time. But I do mention it only to say with all the fear, drama, and topsy-turvy of that hurricane in my life, I really wouldn’t change it. The remnants of what seemed at that time a black hole, has given me abilities and understanding in a deep and profound way that I would have never acquired without that turmoil.
One of the missions that I dove into was learning about thinking. Apparently, I’ve always been a deep thinker-I learned that more recently from moving back to Michigan for my Hiatus. Before my divorce, I was a fairly small-minded, opinionated, black and white thinker. There was a right way and a wrong way. I had my world (and it was perfect of course! Ha!): my children were well-behaved, my spouse and I owned our own businesses, I went to one of the “best” churches in the south. I had it all, even the picket fence! That was all on the surface of course. When that all changed, I had to re-invent myself or get buried by life. I had to figure out how to do this thing on my own. Not only survive, but succeed I knew from my upbringing that going through all of this meant that I was to help others at some point. That was the purpose for it all (along with drawing me closer to God Himself) so, I had to figure it out.
One of the hardest areas to look at in myself in order to revamp was that I couldn’t point fingers or blame. I received no benefit from looking outside of myself but bitterness! It didn’t put food on the table or a roof over my head! I became determined to look at the way I thought so that I could change my actions and therefore succeed! I had no idea what a journey I was diving into!
Thinking comes from dwelling on a particular line of thoughts. Thoughts, I learned come from 3 areas. Now…I hesitate a bit to tell you this. But, it’s what I learned. I’ve tested this out many a day now not only with myself, but with others. You can do your own testing.
Thoughts come from 3 areas:
1.) My Past Experiences:
All that I’ve learned through my 5 senses have been gathered up and called my experiences. I lean on these to move forward. Like when I learned to ride my bicycle for the 1st time, I started out with training wheels. After trusting those and learning how to balance a bit, I moved forward. Life is the same. The problem with only leaning on this thought pattern is that I have had some bad experiences too. When I learned to ride my bike, I fell a few times. I skinned my knee and my elbow and my Mom had to patch me up. Why would anyone after taking a fall like that, get back up on that bike (here it is…are you ready?) to just get hurt again? Our natural tendencies lead us to say “No way! I’m not getting on that bike again!” Something outside of us (whether we realize it or not) is encouraging us to move forward and past our hurts. That something (or someone) is teaching us to trust their experience and knowledge and “Get back on and try again!” You can sort of say they are a “higher power”. The adult helping us with words of encouragement and smiles! They are like area number 2 in thoughts.
2.) God’s Placement of Thoughts Into Our Spirits:
I want to say first and foremost that God doesn’t ever say something that goes against what he’s already written down. So what that means is He is consistent. Quite frankly, it ‘s impossible for Him to be inconsistent. God deals with the spirit side of ourselves. Our spirit then lets our minds know what we need to think. Our experiences deal strictly with our minds. The natural side of us only. When we hear from God we typically say that “I just know” or I “feel” it. But the truth is it is our spirits (which separate us from all other living things) that are being spoken to. Now, if we do not know God, our minds do not know how to deal with what’s happening. The Bible says in Romans 8:7 that our natural minds or sensual part of us cannot know God. So we need to “…renew our minds daily…”(Romans 12:2). This is key because of the third area of where thoughts come from. If we know who God is and what he wants for us (which if you read in Romans 12:2 further, His plan is perfect and good for us!), then we know what to do when negative words or thoughts come our way! Get rid of them! No dwelling! And by all means don’t speak them out loud giving them power in our lives!
3.) The Devil’s placement of a thought:
Yes, it’s true. There is a Devil. Look around. Look within your own mind! God wants good for us. God wants to encourage us. God wants to build us up and make us stronger and more capable-like our parents when we were learning how to ride our bikes! We didn’t like it when we fell and hurt ourselves, but they knew it was all part of learning how to ride. They knew the other side was freedom to roll where we couldn’t before, so they picked us up and brushed us off and put us right back on that bike to learn. The Devil does not want that for us. He wants to hold us back, to stay down, to lie there grumbling. To ride and be free means enjoyment and happiness. The Devil doesn’t want anything to do with those things! Why? We might help someone else to “learn how to ride their bikes!” Happiness would spread. True freedom would spread! You see, he made a decision long ago saying to himself that he knew better than God. He wanted to take matters into his own hands and grumbled about God. He wants only that misery for us too. Misery loves company, right? Don’t fall for it! Now I said earlier to not speak the negative thoughts out loud. God…well, He can read our thoughts. He helps us out with them (of course we have to listen). The Devil cannot read our thoughts. He can place a thought into our minds (natural self remember) and watch to see what we will do with that thought, but he can’t know what we will do. He is limited. Isn’t THAT good news?! We need to be careful at this point to replace whatever the Devil is telling us with a truth instead. We don’t want to create a void we want to keep the space filled up but with positive, truthful statements instead. If we say it out loud…all bets are off! The Devil can hear you when you speak out loud! Shhh…keep yourself quiet! If you are going to speak out loud, say something positive!
Practice healthy thinking by not dwelling on that negative thought. Keep in mind that you can’t just get rid of it. Nope! You must replace it with something else! Something positive. Something truthful. Here’s an example that I struggle with: Say I go to start something and I’m nervous. I’m afraid I’ll mess up. If I’m feeling that way, I’ve already had quite a few negative thoughts race through my head. I have to push through telling myself, it’s ok. Keep going. Fear isn’t from God. It’s either my past experiences (natural self) or the Devil keeping me down. Either way, I’m not living up to my full potential and freedom! I have a free will and I have to use it in this case. “I can do it!”
There are ways to get a handle on this thought life thing.
1. Take an honest look at how many negative thoughts about yourself and situations and others you are saying…BE HONEST!!! Do you have cut-downs that are “just joking” Do you tell yourself that you can’t or won’t or could never??? Do you look at others and compare yourself or what you think is an ideal? Do you bark out orders to others and they just don’t ever measure up? Are you proud of yourself and taking good care of yourself physically? That should get you started!
2. Start to “Renew your mind daily” The word daily is here for a reason! You need to get into a habit my friend-this comes with daily repetition only. Go to books, blogs, articles, (dare I say it for some of you???) the Bible. God wrote down exactly what He thinks of you–It’s all good I promise! He loves you and wants the best for you. I know for some of you out there, we Christians have really messed this up. I’m sorry. We’ve judged poorly, said things we shouldn’t and have hurt way too many of you! Don’t let the Devil whisper lies to you. We fallen Christians may not be great or think good thoughts, but God IS great and thinks only good thoughts about you. Look into Him and His word not to a bunch of yada yada’s (that includes me). We try, but we do fail. God’s not finished with us yet!
3. Surround yourself with mentors and people that have been-there-done-that. They can help with the whole encouragement part! Lean on them and their encouragement until you can encourage yourself!
Thinking, like anything else, is a part of a healthy lifestyle. It takes practice and repitition in our lives to get better and better at this one. We are NOT victums! We have a free will and we choose daily what thoughts we will dwell on and which ones we will replace! It’s our choice! I love that! A tree doesn’t choose-we do!
What thoughts are YOU Choosing today??
Here are some resources for you to take a look at to get better in this area!
Start with Proverbs or the book of James. If you don’t know God at all, start with the 3rd book in the New Testament: John. Learn just how sweet, caring and tender God really truly is!
Quick read but oh so valuable!! Empowering really! Mine is well loved!