Deep down, everyone knows what it is like to struggle with their thought life. Sometimes the thoughts shout at the top of their lungs. Sometimes they whisper to your inattentive mind. Sometimes they catch you at inopportune times. Sometimes you miss that there an inner dialogue going on in your head. But everybody, everybody, battles their own brain.
Often the thought battles we fight grow from old wounds or old behaviors. Sometimes the wounds are caused by people we don’t know well, but we are not immune to wounds from those nearest to us, our families, our friends.
A careless comment about clothes being to tight, an eye roll as the teacher explained the four nucleotide bases of DNA, a pointed comparison to someone else; it can originate just about anywhere.
And once it starts, it can be really hard to stop.
We try and plug the hole leaking water with our finger, which works for a time. Then, we direct our attention elsewhere as we cannot stay in one place, holding back the coming flood with one finger because life keeps happening around us. So we yank our finger out of the hole and turn to some other matter. The jet of water continues to pour out until we do something to plug it up again. Maybe we come back to it sooner rather than later, but we patch the hole with something temporary, intending to return with a more permanent fix, because to fix it properly would mean taking the wall apart to examine the cause of the hole in order to determine how to best stop it up and prevent further damage and leakage. Nobody makes time for that; it’s too much work.
And the sometimes unnoticeable trickle of thoughts can get lost in all the busyness of life. That is, until someone says something or draws attention to the fact that the wall is wet. Our mind is drawn back to the fact that water is getting in where it should be dry and our emotions rise to meet the matter head on, stressed, annoyed, saddened, frustrated, exasperated.
In life, these little thoughts flit through our consciousness, a hummingbird zipping around and making it hard to see clearly, or a butterfly fluttering here and there allowing us to see it, but nevertheless elusive in its own way.
The enemy uses these ideas, these thoughts, for his own devices. He uses them to distract us, to tear us down, to immobilize us, to make us feel unworthy. John Eldredge calls them “arrows”, saying, “The Arrows strike at the most vital places in our hearts, the things we care most about. The deepest questions we ever ask are directly related to our hearts’ greatest needs and the answers life gives us shape our images of ourselves, of life, and of God. Who am I?…the Arrows tell us we are a dime a dozen, worthless, even dark and twisted, dirty.”
When we notice these thoughts, these arrows that have penetrated not only our skin but our hearts, despair is not far away. There is a hopelessness that can nestle down in our hearts and minds as we struggle to stand against the tossing winds of our own psyches.
Fortunately, we have a God who loves us, a God who sees our insecurities, who sees our flaws, who sees our wounds, who sees our scars, who sees the hole in the wall that needs to be plugged. And He not only loves us, He rescues us.
How does he rescue us? By choosing us for His own. God looks down at our brokenness and He says, “I know. I love you.”
We fight against the negative self-think. We lean against the surging tide preparing for the next crashing wave. God steps into the tsunami of accusation, the onslaught of missiles shot from bows of days past, and He brings Jesus to us.
God says, “You have value. You matter to me. Be my son.”
Paul writes to the church at Ephesus:
For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One. (Ephesians 1:4-6)
God adopts us through the Son, not patching the hole in the wall, but promising one day to remove us from our broken house and welcome us into His perfect house.
Now, how does that help us?
The answer to the struggles with our thought lives lies not in how we perceive ourselves, but in how God perceives us.
When you doubt, when you panic because you cannot see beyond the present circumstances, when you despair because you find yourself tripping on the same obstacles again (and again and again), when you tell yourself you will never get over “it”, remember that God sees you and loves you. Focus your thoughts on the reality that God chose you to be adopted into His family through Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world.
If you are in Christ, you are loved.
If you are in Christ, you are God’s child.
If you are in Christ, God will bring you to your new home with Him.
And you will dwell in the house of the Lord.