If day-dreaming were a sport, I’d be a gold medalist. Maybe it’s because I have three boys and therefore no time to think, but if given the opportunity, I could sit and stare at a blank wall for hours and be completely entertained. While there’s nothing wrong with getting carried away with your thoughts or having a particularly active imagination, the Lord recently put it on my heart to be more mindful of what I’m thinking and stay more focused and present with Him through my day.
This was really eye-opening, once I became more aware of how far away my thoughts really do travel from him, and how many worldly distractions and influences are part of my life. This – is going to be interesting. I find some of God’s directives to be easier than others. For example, I have zero problem not swearing and I hate gossip—doing great over here, Lord. But something about giving my magical playground of a mind over to him, just seemed really daunting to me. Here are some scriptures I’ve been pondering that have helped the most.
Learn to See the Good
Philippians 4:8 (NLT) tells us to make a conscious effort to fill our mind with good, pure, wholesome, and lovely thoughts. The way to do this is to literally invite God into your thoughts, and think about how he would see the situation you’re experiencing. You can see the positive in pretty much everything, through his eyes. It sounds a bit “a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down,” but when I’m tempted to think negatively, even over the little things, like when it starts pouring after I spent a morning straightening my hair, I think about how grateful I am for long locks to begin with (they seriously should’ve thinned by now, after having three boys). When getting stuck in a meeting next to that “difficult” co-worker who plays devil’s advocate with every single idea, I choose to see their endearing qualities, or even pray for them. And on a less Pollyanna day, I’d at least try to focus on the fact that I love my job, despite the torturous team meetings.
What We See and Hear, Matters
This one can be tough, but it’s true. Everything we watch, listen to, the friends we make, and environments we dwell within, directly affect our thought life. I clung to many an HBO series before realizing it wasn’t doing me any good watching shows full of sex, violence, and basic debauchery—no matter how well it distracted me from how much guacamole I consumed. Same thing with music. I’ve slowly morphed into one of those Christians I said I’d never become, now only listening to Christian music…at home, in the car, at work…my life is pretty much a Hillsong concert. It sounds extreme, but I noticed a definite difference listening to secular music, even just instrumental (Emancipator, I do miss you) because it doesn’t edify the spirit. It’s simple to shrug off entertainment as harmless, non-influential parts of life we should be able to partake in, but there’s a spirit behind all these mediums that are most times written, produced, and created by people living without the presence of God. I’m not pledging to cancel the cable or Hulu account, but there are definite standards we should set in terms of what we allow into our minds.
Take Every Thought Captive
This sounds a bit much, right? 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) says “we are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” God knows how ridiculously easy it is for doubt, fear, and negativity to creep in our thoughts. That’s where the battlefield is, and as soon as the enemy’s made us anxious or convinced us of lies, we’re done. I’ve been trying slowly but surely, to practice mindfulness in that as soon as I recognize a thought that’s out of the will of God, I literally kill it with truth. So, if you’re about to give a presentation and suddenly feel completely inadequate, squelch the thought and replace it with “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37 NLT). If you’re feeling jealous and insecure over the new girl hired at the office, choose to love and show her kindness, and remember your value to God.
Like any exercise, the more you spiritually train your mind to seek and think God’s thoughts, the easier and more consistently your mind will be renewed by his power. Proverbs 23:7 (NLT) says “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Life is so much more enjoyable and victorious when you give your thought life to Him. I for one, do not miss obsessing about my dress size 24 hours a day. I could write a novel now, with all this extra bandwidth.