“Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8
Recently, I was really struggling (again) with feeling forgotten, used, and hopeless. I felt like I wasn’t getting the attention I deserved. Basically, I was throwing myself a pity party. Big time. I was entertaining all sorts of thoughts and questions about how bad things were in my life, what’s the matter with me that people are treating me this way, etc. I didn’t want to talk to anybody, I wanted to climb into bed and curl up in the fetal position and think, think, think.
The problem was, I was thinking! But I was thinking the wrong things. I was allowing the devil to control my mind and it made me feel terrible. The other problem was my focus. All my self-pity was just that-on my self! When we switch our focus from God and others, and narrow it on to ourselves, all we find is emptiness, depression, and anxiety. Nothing good.
And don’t think I didn’t know what I was doing. That little voice in the back of my mind kept saying, “Tracy, this is the enemy. These are not good things to dwell on. Refocus your mind back to what you know is true.” Think about the verse above. It says to, “meditate on these things.” According to Vine’s dictionary, to meditate means to think about something in earnest. Not a passing thought. To me, it means that when Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians, he knew they would struggle with their thoughts.
Anytime we want to change a habit, or get better at something, we have to practice and work at it. It’s no different with training our thoughts. If someone wants to be a good basketball player, they have to work hard and practice…a lot. Not only physical practice, but they have to get the right mindset. To do that they need to repeatedly say positive things and think positive thoughts about their abilities. Often, they pump each other up by encouraging each other.
It took me a while, but when I finally decided that I was tired of feeling down and depressed, I started to change my thinking. At first it was just as simple as saying “thank you, God,” for who He is and what He has done for me. Then, I started to verbally say positive things that I knew were true, even if I didn’t feel it inside. But as I continued to say them (notice how I said them out loud), something amazing happened. I began to change how I felt inside! I began to believe what I was saying. A a result, I felt better.
As expected, it didn’t take the enemy long, and by the next day the devil kept trying to put those yucky thoughts back into my mind, but this time I was prepared. I immediately spoke the positive confessions out loud, and as I did I felt stronger. I felt brave. I felt loved. I felt, and knew, that God was taking care of me and would help me through it. Because, “greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.” I John 4:4
Does It Matter What We Think? In this struggle I faced, the more I dwelt on all these negative things about myself and others close to me, the worse I felt. Psalm 141:2 says, “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” When I made a decision to change my mindset, to throw my hands up to God, it definitely felt like a sacrifice. I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t think I had the strength to do it. But once I did, in faith, God saw it as good and it was like incense to Him! Greater is He who is in YOU!!