A week ago my therapist and I were talking about how my thoughts are not my actual experience. You would think after years of reading self-help books, studying the bible, and attending every conference I could get my hands on, I would’ve easily grasped this concept – but it’s taken me 31 years to understand this simple revelation.
I’ve always known negative thoughts are rooted in lies, a voice telling you things like you’re not good enough and will never be accepted. In trying to battle these thoughts, I would try to find the origin and then replace them with positive thoughts. This isn’t bad, it’s utterly EXHAUSTING. By the end of the day, I would be so tired from my thoughts and just ask God to help me not think so much.
I would try to find ways to make that happen, like yoga, working out, medication, etc. I did everything. Low and behold, my thoughts were still there when I’d wake up in the morning. So what was the problem?
I was way too focused on my thoughts and not actually living my life. I was in my head so much, trying to discern why I was thinking what I was thinking, that I didn’t have time to actually live. It’s crazy how much of my life has been spent on mindless thinking and the focusing on the why behind the mindless thinking.
The bible tells us to meditate on what is good. “So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.” (Phil 4:8 Passion).
How exactly do we do that?
From talking to my counselor, this is what I’ve learned. First of all, most of your thoughts are nonsense. They come, and it’s completely okay that they come, but they are usually mindless thoughts. So, just let them go.
Let them come, and let them go.
As you do that, you will start to become present. With being present, you will then acknowledge the giftings of your life and grace that is available to you everyday. My therapist told me a story I could completely relate to. She said she was deciding on a huge move and couldn’t figure out if she should do it. She thought and thought and thought, acknowledging the positives and negatives of each. She decided to just stop trying to sort it out and went about her day. That night she took a shower and then all of a sudden a gut feeling hit her with clearness of mind – she should move. She ended up making that decision and says it was so much easier than striving when she was striving to find the answer.
I feel like that’s how it is with God sometimes. Like, I’ll ask and pray and meditate and ask again for an answer or direction to something, but I’ll get nothing. That’s not to say we shouldn’t do that. But how much more does God bring about answers through grace, availability, and thankfulness – positioning ourselves in a place of openness so we can hear him when he does speak? Usually, he’ll say something we didn’t expect, or much larger than what we were even contemplating. We need to expand our mind to receive from God and start being as vulnerable and free as a child.
Grace flows out of the heart, not our thoughts. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Prov. 4:23). I actually find I hear God so much when I’m driving, and I couldn’t figure out why until recently – then it all made sense. When I’m driving, I have to be present or else my car will crash! Ofcourse, thats when I’m open and available for him to speak to me.
You can’t think your way to grace.
This is such a huge theme in my life. God is much more concerned with me living my life and being present and thankful because that’s how to meditate on what is good. Life is good. Creation is good. It’s all good. He said so in Genesis.
So, back to the thoughts vs. experience quote from the beginning. If you let your thoughts come and go, they won’t control you and you’ll find yourself not focusing so much on whether or not they’re right or wrong. I have a handful of bible verses that I keep in my mental pocket daily in the case I find my mind starts to spiral down and focus on negative things. In the end they all point to “I am safe, accepted, loved and enough”. What a good statement.
New things flow out of grace, so stop being so hard on yourself.
Allow time to play, and to have adventure. It’s common for new ideas, visions, and opportunities to come from a place of playing, because when you’re playing, you feel the most at home – like a child. Home, as they say, is where the heart is. Live from this place.
Receive the kingdom as a child. (Mark 10:15)
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts! (Only positive ones…jk jk )
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