Sometimes my brain has this crazy weird tendency to go all kinds of places I don’t want it to. Ok fine, a lot of the time.
It can feel almost as juvenile as the cartoon illustration of the good character & the bad character on each shoulder. One tells you to believe, see, do, and receive one thing, while the other is shouting the exact opposite.
Hello, analysis paralysis.
Except neither ‘character’ actually exist. They’re just fabrications and opposing voices we can either tune out or tune into amidst the vacuum-like black hole known as our minds.
So then I started thinking how negative thinking is just as much a temptation as any other sin.
It’s in these moments of confusion & temptation that we often hear the negative voice far louder than the positive one. The bad guy feeds off of this energy, pulling it right from the good; stealing its vigor and hogging our focus.
Yet even during this epic tug of war, we are given a promise of endurance and escape.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. -1 Corinthians 10:13
The temptation of negative thinking we face through this chatterbox of a ‘character’, also reminds me of the “junk food” that throws our diets off course. (*If this is an analogy you think you’ve hear before, stay with me).
The word “diet” simply implies the kind of food we are giving our bodies on a consistent basis; it’s our primary, regular fuel source(s). Yet we give it a plethora of connotations: trying to lose weight, trying to gain weight, trying to bulk up, trying to tone up, trying to eat ‘healthy’; or maybe even carb-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, Whole 30, vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian–the list of labels and classifications goes on and on.
When in reality:
It’s not about good food versus bad food, as if we’ll never fall into the temptation of eating a ‘bad’ food again.
But rather, how much more often are we feeding off of the healthful foods versus the the not-so-healthful foods?
On a daily basis, in a realm of negative thinking, we’re opening ourselves up to a host of “health” consequences, where “weight” isn’t the only concern. If we’re feeding off of negative self-talk; we’re becoming a negative self-talker. That alone, holds more mass in terms of dragging us down, than the extra weight/lbs. we may (or may not) be physically carrying.
It’s a vicious pattern as hard to quit as sugar.
Have you ever dreamt of donuts on a sugar detox? Ok, then you know it’s as tempting and mouth-watering as it sounds.
But then you think about what those constant donuts do to you–your stomach, your energy levels, your weight, your mental clarity. (Don’t get me wrong though, I’m all about the occasional donut).
So what if you didn’t think so much about not having the donut, but about how much more a regular, balanced breakfast does for you? One that’s nutrient-dense and energy-producing. One that fuels not only your body, but your m i n d.
The craziest thing I learned after years of negative self-talk and subsequent under-eating, is not just that it makes you lose scary weight (duh), but it actually alters your brain chemistry and affects the way you function.
So if we think of our spiritual and relational lives in terms of nutrition, it functions the very same way. It’s about beginning with our identity and relationship in (#1) Jesus Christ + (#2) our (truest) selves, then allowing all of life and our interactions to flow from that. That is your lens, your frame of mind, your “diet”; if you will.
If we’re skimping on a solid, consistent “breakfast” (devotions, prayer, quiet time, worship music, honest conversation with loved ones, etc.), day after day, we’re not only depriving ourselves of nutrient-density, but allowing our thought-life to be altered.
If we’re not filling up on Jesus first and foremost, we’re just feasting on a watered-down, nutritionally void, chemical-laden, artificially flavored worldly substitute.
It’s like eating 5 cups of low-cal fro yo, trying to get satisfied because you know you really just wanted the full-fat gelato to begin with. I mean, it’s just silly if you really think about it.
When I used to meet with nutritionists, they’d often suggest that in times of “hunger”, you start by asking yourself why you’re eating to begin with. (i.e: Are you truly, physically hungry? Stressed? Depressed? Sad? Mad? Bored? Celebrating? Indulging? Restraining? Restricting?)
What’s really the driving force behind the desire to eat? Are you even aware of it?
We could ask similar questions about our zest & appetite for life. Are we seeking approval? Praise? Seeking to hurt or embarrass? Be right? Win for the sake of winning? Gain satisfaction? Get to the next destination? Get people off our backs?
Are we simply satisfying true hunger pangs by feeding on the word & acting out of God’s instructions?
It makes me think of the story of the prophet, Elijah, where in 1 Kings 19:5-8 the angel of God comes to him in his despair; commanding him to “get up and eat“.
God actually provides us with sustenance through His word, just like he provided Elijah with bread, water, and rest in his time of need.
What if you could take your need for control and striving–for being right, for looking good, for gaining approval, for garnering acceptance; and trade it in for real nutrition. For rest. For peace in the presence. All day long.
Oh, but wait, you can. Seriously.
Do you know what God says about you?
And not only what he has said (past tense)
but what he does say (present tense)
and will say (future tense)
All day long.
Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything. [Colossians 2:9-10, MSG]
For the longest time, I thought there’d be a day I would wake up and no longer have that negative character on one shoulder.
But it’s finally dawned on me that the voice will always be there.
It’s just a matter of what my source is and how much fuel I’m taking in. It’s a matter of what I choose to feed on.
God can provide the meals and teach us principles of nutrition, but just like Elijah, we have to choose to “get up and eat” and “not only allow God’s word to sustain us but to receive it within you” (Furtick, Crash the Chatterbox).
That means taking ownership of your positive, forward-moving, not-rear-view-mirror-staring, but here and now growth mindset. Rather than falsely believing you are somehow permanently “stuck” in this moment/place/phase/season.
Therefore revelation is far greater than just information. A revelation is experiential. It requires putting our knowledge into practice. That’s wisdom.
We can read books, devotions, go to church, and listen to worship all day long. But are we referencing it in our time of need? In our longing and hunger?
Every day for the rest of the month, I’m exchanging the temptation of negative thinking for a form of spiritual nutrition.
I’m quieting my complicated mind with a simple action. I’m cultivating the practice of renewing my mind.
I’m overriding what I think, with what God says.
I’m tuning out what I tell myself and replacing it with affirmations of His written word.
I’m not holding my temporary life circumstances above His eternal, immovable promises.
The availability of a relationship with God is what’s simple. The strain we put on it by listening to the logjam of the enemy is what’s complicated.
That’s why we have to live our lives hell-bent on pursuing the truth of God’s word. Otherwise, the messages we interpret are at risk for being as aloof as a research paper without any evidence or citations. Without scriptural reference, our thinking becomes just words in our heads or strewn on a page that either sound nice, look nice, maybe even make us feel nice; before they’ll begin to deconstruct the very sense of worth we innately posses in Him.
Consistency is always better than perfection; and fullness, joy, and abundance are always on the table.
NEVER MISS A WORD
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