Have you spent time listening to yourself?
I’m amazed at how negative my thoughts can be sometimes. Before I know it, I’ve tried and quartered the person that seems more like an enemy than a friend. Or I’ve embraced despair over a situation. Or I’ve declared there’s no hope for so and so.
And then there’s this classic move: planned out conversations that work perfectly in my mind and fail spectacularly in person because, doh, the person is a real person and not a character in my script.
And sometimes my thoughts aren’t so nice and would totally require major cleanup and brown-nosing for the rest of my life, thank-you very much.
It’s in those moments when I consider that my secret thoughts aren’t really secret after all. God knows the secrets of my heart and I know that I can go to him, not for justification of my bad thoughts, but for help in sorting through them.
Angry thoughts hide hurt feelings. Hurts slices our core needs: to feel safe, validated, and loved. Instead of dealing with the pain of abandonment, we grow angry and seek retaliation or exhibit desperation. Rejection tugs on the basic need to be accepted and rather than deal with the deep wound it causes, we turn to angry thoughts.
(Why is it that we have anger management classes, but not hurt-management classes? Because anger makes us appear strong, and hurt causes us to appear weak. Hurt is multi-faceted and many-layered, and can take years of deliberate choices in order to heal, but dealing with our hurts is what makes us stronger.)
Another thought that motivates me in cleaning up my thought life is the verse where it talks about what is done in the dark will be brought to the light. Yikes. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some thoughts I don’t even want to admit I’ve had. But what’s in the dark, must be exposed to the light in order to be healed.
So, what are you thinking? Truly. Bring all your thoughts into the light. Oh, sure, they’ll squeal and you might squirm when you hear yourself, but trust me, it’s best if you can bring them to God. It’s like you bringing your broken treasure to him in cupped hands and like a child state, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what to do. Help.”
We fly through life. While we’re sorting the laundry, we’re sorting a relationship problem. In one instance, we answer our kids, that text, and our husbands. We juggle work projects and people projects and church dissension and personal growth issues and pretty soon, we push the auto-pilot button and say, like Batman in the Lego Batman movie, “Rope, you’re in charge.”
Auto-pilot. I’ve been there. I’m there more often than I admit. With three kids in school, managing our days, our home, church responsibilities, my writing studio project, and ministry, my mind is a busy, busy place. I can be sitting still, but my mind is leaping and turning and diving and solving and brainstorming.
I turn on auto-pilot and it’s when I do that the thoughts I think in secret get spoken. Chagrined? Yes. Dismayed? Oh, yea. Embarrassed? Absolutely. Needing to bring all the broken pieces to God? No doubt.
Am I saying that we can’t ever mess up? Not at all. What I am saying is that our thoughts are one of the most important commodities we possess. They affect our lives for good or for evil because it’s in our thoughts that temptations give birth to sin.
Our thoughts are merely unspoken words. And when we dive into God’s words about the power of words, we see the importance of guarding our hearts so that our minds might be renewed in order for the thoughts we think to become the life-giving words we want to say.
Friends, we don’t change from the outside in. We change from the inside out. One of the things I don’t do for my family is clean out their pockets before I wash their clothes. I probably should because I have washed wallets, chapstick, crayons, gum, hair ties, legos, screws, and keys, but I’m afraid of what I’m going to find in the dark recesses of their pockets.
Let’s not be like that with our minds. God knows our thoughts anyway, so let’s ask him to help us be aware of our thoughts so our words can be life-giving. So let’s reach into that pocket and turn it inside out. Get rid of the fuzz and lint and ask God to make your mind new.
In order for negative cycles to be broken, we need to begin in our hearts and what’s in our hearts is evidenced by the words we think and say.
Pay attention to what you’re thinking and talk to God about it.
Scripture to Ponder
“Would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart.” Psalm 44:21
“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” Luke 12:2-3
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23