I keep having the same conversations lately and most of them seem to be in my head.
My husband and I recently embarked on a summer sabbatical and it has messed up my Type-A routine that I love. I know some of you are thinking: “Quit complaining!” Hear me out. I’m very grateful for this time of rest. It’s taken me two weeks to untangle myself from the day-to-day ministry duties but even more challenging (and surprisingly so) is untangling my mind from the onslaught of anxiety over how to make the best of this time off.
Why is it that we still agonize over the things that we want even after we get them?
I don’t think it is coincidence for two reasons.
First, the enemy is a master of stealing our peace. If he can’t keep you from the thing God desires you to have, be, or do; he will certainly do his best to make sure you don’t enjoy it. Think about it. You are called to do unique things for the Kingdom of God.
Things only you can do.
Yet, so many times, those very things we feel called to do become a burden to bear instead because we are victimized relentlessly by the voices in our head.
“Someone else would be better at this job.”
“I’m disappointing __________. (God, kids, team, parents, fill-in-the-blank.)”
“Why isn’t everyone as excited as I am about this project? Maybe they think it’s stupid!”
“I wasted the entire day doing nothing important.”
“I’m so tired of trying to please everyone. It isn’t worth it anymore.”
I think you get the picture. The assault is very real and it demoralizes us quickly.
Second, while we do have an enemy who resists us, too often we jump in and offer him a hand by the thoughts we nurture, coddle, and allow to live in our heads.
I’m pretty positive that isn’t how it’s supposed to be. When we read the Word, God tells us to fix our minds on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable–none of the above comes close to meeting this standard. Likewise, we’ve been reminded that when we set our thoughts and trust on God, we will discover perfect peace. (Isaiah 26:3)
I find it hard some days in the midst of the storm brewing and blowing in my head to envision peace, let alone, perfect peace.
So what do we do to free up space and make a place for peace?
- Realize you have a choice. Maybe I’m a slow learner, but this was the hardest for me. Too often I thought I just had to endure what was happening in my head. You have a choice what you think about. You don’t have to let worry run loose in your head. You can choose to stop the train wreck of guilt that leaves you always losing. Resentment has no right to fester unless you allow it. A good question that I use when I’m struggling is this: “What fruit is coming from these thoughts?” If I feel defeated, depressed, or constantly discouraged, I’m pretty sure I’m giving place to something that is unhealthy. I call it rotten fruit and it needn’t live in my head.
- Think on what is true. Most of our agony comes from negative interpretations of situations or people. To know the truth, you need to discover the truth with a healthy daily dose of Scripture to offset the rotten stuff that bombards you. Most of these ugly roommates come with an exaggerated sense of self. In other words, they are bluffing to knock you off course. Think instead about God’s grace and faithfulness and the opportunity you have to partner with Him to do something that can make a difference.
- Unplug. Maybe this seems hypocritical since a blog is sent via social media. However, I’m learning the art of balance. Too much of a good thing makes it a bad thing. My first success in the past two weeks of sabbatical is learning the power of “logging out” and rediscovering the beauty of silence. Constant negativity whether through news, social media, or other voices, will distract you and make it harder to battle the uglies that come your way to steal peace.
- Speak Life. The tongue is a rudder. It drives the attitudes, choices, and habits that we develop as men and women. What you speak over yourself long enough, you will come to believe. That’s why it’s equally important to guard not just your thoughts, but also your mouth. Jesus said out of the abundance of the heart, our mouth will speak. In other words, what we speak reflects the fruit of what is in our head/heart anyway. To change one, you must be willing to change the other. What you speak can help or hinder the battle raging in your head.
I’m cheering you on. You don’t have to live imprisoned to worry, fear, guilt, resentment, anger, or any other ugly things that try to move in and steal the precious space in your head.
Be vigilant, choose well, but most importantly, enjoy the freedom of a mind made to enjoy living in perfect peace.