“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 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. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”
2 Corinthians 10:4-6 is the battlecry I didn’t know my heart needed. I spent the majority of my morning wrestling with my thought-life, as I have for the past few days. Having difficulty sleeping due to anxiety revolving around thinking or perhaps even lack thereof. Over dinner the other evening, I shared with Allie that I felt the world went by too quickly sometimes and I wished there were more time to think and ponder. Interesting for a man to wish for that who is often consumed by destructive thinking, but I meant in the hustle and bustle of the monotonous, everyday it’s easy to forget to dream or to listen to God’s voice and leading.
I found myself restless this morning, wrestling with temptations to be lustful or bitter or to covet the riches of others. A lack of contentment led to a feeling of anxiety and a general wrestling that led to a need distract and accomplish – a need to avoid listening to my heart and to God and to bury myself into something – so cleaning the bathroom and doing laundry it was. Contrary to the norm of remaining in those life-stealing thoughts and/or numbing myself by seeking the entertainment of Netflix, etc. I found myself listening to a sermon on “Do Not Be Anxious” taught out of Philippians. It’s a frequently utilized passage that I’ve read, studied, preached to myself and to others, numerous times. But God has a way of teaching us something new with the same verses sometimes. And this time, I felt a call to action.
A sort of “enough is enough.” Allie’s shared with me that a tactic her parents used when she was having a pity party as a child was to tell her that it was a “Party of 1.” Meaning they weren’t going to entertain her ideas and stay there with her, but she was welcome to join their party of forward thinking, whenever she was done wallowing. I’ve since seen it used as a gentle anecdote to bring me out of my own pity parties of one. And so enough was enough – there was nothing healthy coming of staying in those dark, deceptive, depressing, deviant, distractions from the truth, known as my own negative thinking.
I’d equate pessimism as a habitual thought-cycle, a sort of systematic mind-numbing addiction. An unsatisfactory result occurs and your neural pathways have trained themselves to assume failure, which to no one’s surprise leads to further failure because you didn’t take the time out of your day to plan and to believe in yourself long enough to make a change. And so you did the same thing, “expecting” a different result – the very definition of insanity.
And so I laid on the bed, exhausted from going on a cleaning rampage to calm myself and had a heart-to-heart with God. “Lord, help me take every thought captive for your glory. If it’s not from you, help me to submit it to your will and to send it away from me. Heal and renew my mind. By taking my thoughts captive, I ask that you’d set my heart free so I’d be alive enough to be me.”
Scholars on addiction and thought-process have come to see that in order to retrain one’s impulses, whether they be thoughts or actions, it is necessary to identify triggers and to plan new responses. So instead of getting anxious and throwing back a few beers like you did in college, maybe you’ve now matured and have started going to the gym instead. For me, I think that whenever I’m faced with anxiety, anger, depression, or any kind of unwholesome thinking, I’m going to have to train myself to pray. But not only to pray – but to believe in the power of prayer and in its effectiveness. Then to make a move, take a step in a direction, sure of my footing because I’ve submitted my will to the Lord and pressing forward rather than remaining in the same place.
So long, stagnancy. Goodbye, evil. Farewell, apathy.
Enter Jesus. Together, we’re Taking Every Thought Captive.