Hey everyone! Long time, no post! But that is because I made a promise awhile ago that I was only going to write when I was ready to say what God wanted me to say, so this time, its taken a bit longer to figure that out, and as a result, this is a belated, and also super long post, sorry!
This winter feels like it has been a never-ending season. I feel like winter, by necessity, is a time to draw inward, narrowing your focus more to home and family and immediate needs than being a part of a hustley-bustley world beyond. But, maybe that’s just me and my cold-abhorring-winter-self talking! Brr!
Our winter, because of continual sicknesses and crummy weather when we were actually feeling well, became really narrow. I feel like we didn’t leave the house for weeks on end for one reason or another and so it felt as if my focus became solely what was going on inside these walls.
And that, of course, left me with time to think – quite possibly, too much time to think.
Winter coming as a natural break in the busyness of life should lend itself to stillness. Stillness, introspection, and rest. Layered with grace and God’s love, it should be a season of healing and strengthening the roots of our faith in God in preparation for “spring” – getting back to being busy and being about our business out in the world.
Well, stillness is not my thing. Since I became a teenager, it never has been. I’ve always been moving, working, striving, rushing – that’s my norm, or has been for the past 20-odd years. And yet, for one reason or another, moments of stillness have been forced on me this winter, and with them the necessary space and time to think. And OH, did I think. I thought about my weaknesses, my failures, my struggles, my flaws, the lies I have believed about myself, my inadequacies, etc. You name it, I dwelt on it.
I ended up forgetting the “grace” and “love” parts of the whole equation and simply evaluated and measured myself. I forgot to take each of those things I was struggling with before God and ask Him what He thought of it, and of me. I spoke these little battles out loud to trusted friends as I was struggling, trying to get a handle on them, and I feel like that helped me wrap my brain around abstract thoughts and lies that I had been living as truths – but at the same time, it was almost like taking these things to other people gave them license to stick around and gave me an excuse to throw up my hands and say “yeah, there is it! It’s so tough and I’m struggling!” – and I camped out there. I became grumpy, critical, filled with disgust at my inability to win this battle of my mind, struggling as I compared myself to others every day. I allowed my discontent to affect the atmosphere of my home, my fulfillment of my chief purposes of being a wife and a mother, and allowed my thoughts to quickly swirl around until they became toxic and dizzying.
The thing I forgot was that “self-reflection” can often turn “selfish” when not properly in line with God. When its done properly, and with the guiding and prompting of the Holy Spirit, self-reflection is how we grow and mature. But I didn’t do it with the guiding and prompting of the Holy Spirit, or with the love and grace of God. I just saw the parts that weren’t great, and sat there with them, allowing them to continue to control me, and allowing myself to believe I was helpless against them.
I definitely needed this winter. I needed this time to deal with some things that I had simply kept myself too busy to acknowledge. But after I realized how I had given my thoughts license to rule my emotions and my actions, I immediately got into the Word, and spent some time in prayer. And y’all? In just a few hours of time with my Father, in seeking His truth and submitting my wild thoughts to Him, I felt lighter, more joyful and more at peace than I had in months.
I read in a devotional that we need to practice “the art of interruption” – that when our thoughts spiral and swirl, we need to recognize it immediately and that the “shift – the interrupting thought – needs to be: It’s all – ALWAYS – about Christ.”
When you stop, take the time to line your thoughts up with the truths of God that He gives us in His word, its amazing how quickly you can stop the spiral and calm the swirl.
It’s not going to be a one time deal, “quick fix” for me, but I feel like now I have the awareness and the tools to start to overhaul years of patterns of destructive thinking that I have always told myself were normal. For every damaging thought I have, every lie I allow myself to believe, every crippling fear that begins to take root, I am learning to stop immediately and speak the truth out loud and practice that important art of interruption.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.John 8:32
Our minds truly are a battlefield. Even though I had legitimate things that I needed to deal with, I let myself sink way too deeply into the fight, and wasn’t really fighting at all. The father of lies brings death when we listen to the things he tells us and I now feel that truth so clearly – when we are wrapped up in toxic thoughts, we are dead to our God-given purpose, we are dead to living in the joy and peace that we have been so graciously given by our Father. We are dead to serving others because we are so wrapped up in ourselves. We become crippled, useless, and less than what we are meant to be, which is exactly where the enemy would like us to be.
Today, I watched the first sermon in Transformation Church’s “Relationship Goals” series, and Pastor Mike Todd touched on a lot of these points as well and also used a verse from Genesis 2:18 – ‘The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.“
(Funny story – I felt God nudging me to watch that series months ago, and I’d been putting it off – I could have heard these truths months ago and potentially shortened my “funk!” Next time, maybe I should listen, eh??)
But anyway, it’s true! Isolation is so damaging. It’s not good for us to be alone – we are more easily defeated, more easily distracted and run off course than when we are surrounded by people who love us and pray for us, that we allow to know the truths about our struggles, and help guide us back on track. I definitely allowed seasonal things like sickness and bad weather to just block myself off from others, and from speaking about the Word regularly with my fellow believers. When you’re run down and chasing sick and/or energetic toddlers, it seems to be mostly about survival, and I allowed that isolation and that weakness to take root and I sank deep into my own mind, not being helped by my community because I didn’t let them in.
So going forward with my lesson, I’m going to embrace stillness in order to rest, to spend time with my Father and to confront any patterns of thinking that may be stealing my joy and crippling my life. I won’t shy away from dealing with the hard things, but I refuse to do it alone. I will take the battle to the One who has the victory over all things, and I will commit to being better about embracing my community of believers. God promises that if we claim the power of Christ in us, we have the power to demolish strongholds and take captive every thought. I sure want to have a healthy mind and live a healthy, joyful life, and demolishing the toxic things that hold me back sounds GREAT to me! Thank God we have that power!
The following verses have been transformative as I’ve read them, thought about them and used them time and time again as reminders of the power we have over our minds, through Christ – I hope they are encouraging to you also! Practice the art of interruption and you can stop the spiral in your own mind also.
“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.” — Isaiah 26:3
“…but we have the mind of Christ.” — 1 Corinthians 2:16b
“…to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” — Romans 8:6b
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” — 2 Timothy 1:7
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:7
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” — John 10:10
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” — John 8:44
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” — 2 Corinthians 10:5