Every time I go anywhere, it’s like I have a huge blinking sign on my head. It’s not just blinking, but it has strobe lights. Here are a few things that the light apparently displays to strangers depending on the day and situation:
• “I will feel too bad to walk past you so go ahead and stop me and tell me about the environment. I am an EASY target.”
• “Oh you’re giving out free samples of hand scrub? If you so much as make eye contact with me, I will feel obligated to let you scrub my hands in the middle of the mall.
• “I see that you’re selling a bottle of juice for seven dollars when it should actually cost one dollar. But if you tell me how you made it on your family orange grove that your great-grandpa created from the ground up then you BET your bottom dollar I’ll buy it.”
• “Homeless or hurt dogs? Say no more, I’m coming to talk to you now.” (cue “in the arms of the angels”)
If any of you are reading this right now thinking, “Okay, I relate to this on a personal level”, then I just want to say welcome to the club! One thing a lot of us in this club have in common is that we have a tough time saying “no” in situations. We end up buying things we don’t really want, being late for dinner because we’re talking to a stranger, and having super soft hands from the hand scrubs (that’s a pro tip there, always say yes to those).
For many years, I thought that because I was this type of person, it inevitably meant that I would have to continue to say “yes” in all of these situations, even when I needed to say no. I would purposely go in the furthest door away at Walmart in order to avoid people handing out pamphlets. And I’m not joking when I say I would pretend to take calls from my mom walking through the mall whenever I saw the guy with the fake hair extension clips even glance my way. It was exhausting. Until I discovered… I HAD THE POWER TO NOT ACCEPT THE OFFER. I could actually say “NO,” and the world would not end. So I started doing it. I started saying “no” when I needed to. Can I tell you what happened? The businesses did not fail, and families did not fall apart. The orange grove did not shut down. They simply went on to the very next person and asked them for their time. **I am not advising we ignore people who are passionate about a business or a cause. I still stop often to hear what people have to say. But what I want to get across here is that there is always a choice to accept or to politely decline and continue with what we need to do.
Guys, I tell you this stuff not so you’ll start bypassing girl scouts. I tell you this because we are so often the same way with our thoughts and ways of thinking. Any thought can set up shop in our mind, and because it’s there we think, “Oh oh oh I need to stop here.” So we camp out for a few minutes with a thought like “man you really do not know what you’re doing with your life.” Then because we went to that thought, the next thought kind of relates and so we go ahead and devote some time to that one too. This thought tells us, “You’re never going to make anyone proud”. Maybe these aren’t the types of thoughts that you have. Let me list a few examples of thoughts that some of us might have, especially in this season.
• Your anxiety/depression/panic attacks are never going to get better.
• You aren’t as good as him/her and you never will be.
• No one wants to marry you.
• That’s why you’re still single.
• You aren’t ever going to find a job you are truly passionate about.
• You don’t have a purpose.
• People don’t like being around you.
Depending on who you are, you might relate to some of these thoughts. And often, we think because these thoughts are in our mind that we MUST give them our time. But just in the same way that I had to learn how to say NO to people at the mall, we as people have to learn to say NO to thoughts. Listen up, friends. If you don’t read anything else, just read this: WE HAVE THE POWER TO DECIDE WHICH THOUGHTS WE ALLOW AND WHICH THOUGHTS WE SAY NO TO.
Read it again.
Do you believe it? Let me tell you how I know this to be true.
2 Corinthians 10:5 tell us that we are to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” You might be wondering what that means. So let’s walk through this together with
two practical steps to help us take our thoughts captive.
1. Recognize that while every thought and feeling is valid, it does not make it true.
Philippians 4:8 tells us: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” We have to seek God’s truth in our life to determine whether a thought is true or not. During times of anxiety, my mind will often tell me, “Oh wow, something horrible is going to happen today. You definitely need to stress because nothing is right. Something bad is going to happen soon.” If I take this thought as truth, it is going to rob me of my joy for that hour, that day, or even that week/month. I will spiral into more thoughts that I also take as truth.
So my friend, here is what I say instead during a time like that: “Right now, I don’t feel great. I’m feeling pretty anxious and nervous. However, I know that this feeling isn’t going to last forever. It always ends. Right now I am safe and I am okay. This is going to pass. Philippians 4:6-7 tells me, “do not be anxious about anything. But in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind through Jesus.” If we hide God’s word away in our hearts, we can cross-check our thoughts with what He says to determine if it is true or not. (Once you’ve done this, go on to number 2).
2. SAY NO AND SEND IT BACK.
One of the easiest places for the enemy to attack us is in our minds. It’s the one place where we are always alone and often where we are most vulnerable. Especially during a time like quarantine with COVID-19. However, once we have determined that a thought does not fit the standards of what God wants our thoughts to be (pure, lovely, admirable, true, right, etc.), we just say a big HECK NOPE and don’t stop at that table. Just in the same way that I had to learn to say no to the people at the farmer’s market, we have to learn to say no to our thoughts. Now bear with me, because this is going to sound a little bit crazy. But we have the ability to outwardly declare: “I am not accepting this thought. I know that it’s not true and I know that this is not what God says about me/my situation so I am saying no. No, I’m not giving this thought any more of my time and I send it right back where it came. BYE.” Then move on. It takes time and it takes practice (also would advise not saying these statements out loud if in public hahaha) but it is one of the most life-changing things I have been taught. And it is a GAME changer for those of us who spend a lot of time thinking.
Let’s be a people who take captive EVERY thought in this season of COVID. Also, I haven’t technically read this book yet but it is on my list and I have heard AMAZING things. So if you want more practical insight into how to take your thoughts captive, check out this book: Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts.
We love you and miss you all, young adults!! We are praying for you this week and can’t wait to see you for THURSDAY NIGHT LIVE!