I remember early on in my Christian faith seeking advice from my pastor about the negative thoughts I combated regularly. He handed me Joyce Meyer’s book, Battlefield of the Mind. It’s been fifteen years since that day and managing negative thoughts is still be a battle. Not the same battle, but a battle nonetheless.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” Proverbs 4:23 (CSB)
Our heart (soul, inner self) directs us. It’s what makes us come alive or want to stay hidden. God created us and hardwired us with unique gifts and talents, but He also created us to have dominion and control. God allows us to choose whether we are going to trust Him and come fully alive or not. Winning the battle in our mind is part of becoming who God created us to be. We can’t be victorious if we’re believing negative thoughts and lies about ourselves and/or others.
“…take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
Lately I’ve noticed several instances where I had to proactively take control of my thoughts and rebuke them. In one instance a few weeks ago, I started feeling anxious about a situation and was tempted to think negatively about myself as a result. I knew the thought that entered my mind was a clear and deliberate lie from the enemy.
When the thought entered my mind, I said out loud. “That is not true and I will not believe it”. I remained slightly nervous at first because I’ve battled this kind of thing before. I did not want to create a new problem because of a negative thought that was untrue.
Within a few minutes, I had a new thought, a true thought. Is this the Holy Spirit? I entertained the thought for several minutes thinking about how God might see the situation. “Yes!”, I told myself, “That is the truth I will believe about this”.
I quickly got my journal, went out to the hammock on our front porch, and wrote it down. Writing things down has a way of cementing it in my heart. After writing it down, I prayed that God would help me believe His truth about this situation to the core of my being. I didn’t want to leave any room for doubt.
Within an hour I had complete peace and felt the negativity lift away completely. A week later someone made a comment about the same type of situation. My mind quickly thought of the truth I chose to believe. In that moment, there was zero negativity. I felt like I had won; I felt a sense of victory.
What’s interesting looking back is that as a small, single thought, it wasn’t a huge deal. Having a negative thought is not something we have control over. It’s part of living in a fallen world. It’s what I did with it that I have to control. Had I allowed it space to grow, it had potential to become something ugly in my heart and potentially my future.
A thought is like a seed. Given the right care and environment, it will grow.
Are you watering negative thoughts and lies from the enemy (remember his goal is to steal, kill, and destroy) or are you watering thoughts from above (the things that are true, pure, and lovely)?
When we take control of our thoughts, we are guarding our heart.
If we’re constantly thinking worst-case scenario, fear and anxiety fill our heart.
If we allow our thoughts to compare ourselves with others, insecurity and jealousy fill our heart.
If we think we are no good, despair and shame fill our heart.
Winning the battle in our mind is a life-long pursuit. It’s a tough battle, but we can be victorious in it.
Focus on one thought pattern this week and take control of it. What does God say about? Write it down and ask Him to help you believe His truth.