When my daughter was around 5 years old, she told me that there was a voice that lived inside her head. My daughter is highly creative, so instead of thinking, “OH NO!” I asked her tell me more. It turned out that my daughter had given this voice a name: Mind-y (like the word “mind” with a “y” on the end). My daughter held conversations with Mind-y. Sometimes, Mind-y was kind, and other times, not so kind. My daughter told me after school one day that Mind-y had told her she was dumb for missing a question on a test, but that she responded that this was not true; missing one question was still very good!
I found all of this completely fascinating; my daughter was learning at a young age that most of us have active “thought lives” and that different voices/thoughts clamor for our attention. Our “Mind-ys” can speak positive or negative thoughts to us. I urged my daughter to always listen to the positive voice in her head, and never let Mind-y belittle her.
Many years later, I still think what a profound illustration Mind-y was/is, and how God gifted my daughter at a young age to be so insightful. I know that I have my own “Mind-y” and that I listen to her negative words. My thoughts can be very negative. I struggle with fear of man, comparing myself to others, trying to find comfort in something other than the Lord – and these struggles lead to feelings of hopelessness and wanting to retreat. I try to silence my “Mind-y” by turning up the volume in my mind through distractions.
I used to believe this was just psychological; I suffered from depression and anxiety and I thought that a running tape of negative thinking was normal for someone with my conditions. Occasionally, a positive thought would take root and I would feel better for awhile, but the negative thoughts were never completely gone. I experienced all of these issues before and after I became a believer; before and after I attended church; before and after I regularly attended Bible studies.
Then I came to Thistlebend. I heard for the first time about spiritual warfare, that there is a spiritual realm we cannot see but that is very real, and that there are forces strongly opposed to God who will do whatever they can to keep us from focusing our thoughts on what is true and good. C.S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters, is a great fictional depiction on how demons attempt to keep humans focused on anything but God.
Laurie’s teaching helped me understand that we can combat the lies of the enemy by speaking biblical truth to ourselves. This has been enormously helpful to me as I have battled fear, anxiety, unbelief, feelings of isolation or hopelessness, and even despair.
Recently, I have been battling debilitating pain. I have been crying out to the Lord for deliverance but He has allowed my pain to continue. This week, during our homework, we read Psalm 40. The first verses read:
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction…and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. (Psa. 40:1-3)
As I worked on my Taking the Truth to Heart assignment, I felt the Lord leading me to Psalm 40:3 for my verse for the week. I confided in my small group that my pain was causing me to despair. I was fearful I would never get better. But by God’s grace, I knew I needed to speak more truth to myself, so I planned to live out the “new song in my mouth” by listening to more hymns and praise music. And I did.
My pain worsened and I became bedridden. But when fear or anguish threatened to dominate my thoughts, I would hear music. “How sweet the sound of saving grace; Christ died for me” ran through my mind constantly. My pain didn’t go away, but my faith was bolstered. The Lord sweetly taught me so much through this verse and the actions I committed to in my Taking the Truth to Heart assignment. When we truly take the truth of God’s Word to heart, when we speak that truth to ourselves, we can overcome the negative thoughts that the enemy uses to try to poison our minds! I will tell you; this does not happen overnight. It is a discipline that we must practice. Through His strength, we commit Bible verses to memory. We pray more. We fix our eyes on the Lord instead of ourselves. We begin to recognize when we are responding in our flesh in thought or action versus responding in God’s Spirit.
The Lord graciously delivered me from my pain (literally)…and I’m still hearing music.
Growing in Grace