Isn’t it amazing how one thought can hold you captive? A revolving list of the tasks we need to complete. Or an obsessive mommy worry, “Did I send the permission slip? Should I take my daughter to the doctor for this? Or for me, with my son a police officer, the concern repeats itself, “Is he okay today?” It doesn’t take much to start my tangled thinking turning, for sure. Some days it begins with a simple tune.
Last week I was captured by the song, “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” playing broken in my head. (???) It all started when I saw a woman with Tina Turner hair. And I guess when Tina Turner hair walks into a room—your brain stops and takes notice whether you want it to or not.
For two whole days it was as if I was stuck at a concert with lighter in the air, unable to let go of that “second hand emotion.” The obsessive instrumental leaving just in time to usher in humming’s of, “It’s a Small World After All.” Somebody please stop this ride and pull me off!
There have been less entertaining, but just as obsessive thoughts replayed and repeated in my head though. Many of my churnings, unconstructive responses to difficulties of the day. My negative thinking patterns rendering me lifeless at times. An amnesia affect, our minds often forgetting or unaware of the connection between interpreted thoughts and our emotional response. Some days we may find ourselves in a bad mood because we’ve first planted the reflection, I’m in a bad mood. Hmmm.
When I worked at Richland Psychiatric Hospital, I helped lead Cognitive Therapy groups. Cognitive Therapy is a type of psychotherapy that challenges negative and obsessive thinking patterns which can ultimately generate mood disorders such as depression. Research by The Anxiety and Depression Association of America indicates anxiety disorders and depression affect over 40 million adults—a whopping 18 % of the population. Just a thought here—we need to challenge our thinking.
Another observation: if our psyche is a complex galaxy of ideas and or feelings that dance together in our heads, with this galaxy generating a rhythm or a particular emotion, can’t we abandon these thoughts to the Wonderful Counselor? “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6). NIV. We can find truth-filled thinking in He who is the Truth.
Knowing the truth is challenging when we’re so familiar with the carousel of untruth’s. Repeating false concepts about ourselves and about our circumstance comes easy. As easy as folding your fingers together. When you do this which thumb is dominant? Right thumb over left? Or left thumb over right? Now try folding your fingers the less natural way. It takes forethought and intention, doesn’t it? Changing our thinking takes the same effort. And since we think we are, what we think we are—we need to examine these mind-blowing realities for a moment.
God loves us unconditionally…Thoughts so vast it fills in the chasms of the deepest of deeps. Smoothing out the sheets of loneliness that tuck in tight as you lie down to sleep. So let’s take this sheet of goodness and wrap our minds up in it, shall we? Nothing. Nothing in all this world can make God stop loving you. Not your thoughts. Not your actions. Not even your lack of love for Him. There is no condition to His love.
And how easy it is to give our will and control to a God who loves with relentless pursuit and fierce forgiveness. All this love in exchange for a heart surrendered. This notion is enough to render a negative thought powerless—If we just allow it. But will we allow it?
Created for a Purpose…Many people I had the pleasure of meeting while working at Richland Hospital struggled with one particular question. One thought often clunked careless in their minds, and left them wondering. A question significant enough to start a storm. It is the question of purpose. Author, Rick Warren wrote an entire book on this subject in, The Purpose Driven Life. Delving out answers to the age old question, “Why am I here?” We’ve all asked this same question. Had the same thought. But until we understand we were created for a purpose the waves of question roll and churn.
I love the book of Job in the Bible. Surprising, for someone who couldn’t watch the show Lassie, with all that limping and whining. Sniff, sniff. And at first glance Job’s testimony appears to be about suffering. But a closer look reveals more.
Tired of his physical and emotional torment, Job begins to question his purpose and curse the day of his birth. “May the day of my birth perish, and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’ That day—may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it.; may no light shine on it.” (Job 3:3,4) NIV. There’s little question Job was stuck tight in a negative thinking cycle as his soul lost sight of purpose. And deep in his suffering he asks, “Where then is my hope—who can see any hope for me?” (Job 13:15) NIV. My heart goes out to Job and can’t help but empathize with the rationalization, You mean, I was created for this?
And as winds blow and the tide swells, so does Job’s desperation. In anguish he demands answers from God. After much dialogue between Job and his friends, God speaks to Job. Out of the storm God speaks. “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2) NIV. This verse is worth magnifying as God plants seeds of hope. He says, “My plans.” Then he goes on to question Job. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand?” (Job 38:4) NIV.
Meditating on the truth that in the biggest of pictures, and in the largest of galaxies, God has a plan of hope and restoration.
That’s why this huge thought captures me like a tune—God created us for His purpose. A truth Job welcomed because after God spoke, Job had this to say, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42: 2,3) NIV. A few verses later recognizing his error, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “
If I’m honest with myself; I’ve felt unloved and questioned my purpose. And I have spoke of things too wonderful for me to know. That’s why a change in thinking may be just what I need. And not all too soon either. This morning I overheard a conversation about the “small world” we live in. Oh no! Here I go again. It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears…
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge og God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5) NIV.