Monday, April 30, 2012

You Are What You Think

"There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death." ~Proverbs 14:12 (AMP)

Welcome back friends!  I hope you had a great weekend!  If you didn't get a chance to read Saturday's post, I would like to encourage you to do that, since today's message is continued from that one. 

I ended Saturday's message with a challenge for you.  I suggested that you take the time to really think about what you're thinking about.  So, how did that go for you? Was it harder than you expected?  Did you find yourself thinking more negative thoughts or positive ones?  Did you write those things down?  When I first started doing this, I was amazed at how much negative self-talk I constantly had going on in my mind.  No wonder I was struggling.  Here are a few examples of negative self-talk:

1.)    "They completely ignored me today. They don't like me. I'm just not good enough."
2.)    "I can't do anything right. Why bother?"
3.)    "Why would that person say such ugly things to me? I don't even matter."
4.)    "God hasn't answered my prayer, so He must not love me."
5.)    "I must be a really bad person for God to let this happen to me."

Can you relate to any of the above statements?  Sadly, those statements weren't made up, they are things I have actually thought and said over the years.  Even worse than thinking and saying those things is the fact that I use to believe them.  I remember hearing Joyce Meyer on several occasions say, "Where the mind goes the man follows."  This was exactly what had been happening to me for many years,  My emotions, behavior, and attitudes were playing follow the leader with my toxic thoughts.  Unfortunately, where they led me was not a place of life.  I was in an endless cycle of toxic thoughts and behaviors.  One of those toxic behaviors came in the form of being a people-pleaser.  I was constantly seeking the approval of others to validate me and affirm me, which meant I didn't know how to say no.  I didn't have healthy boundaries because I didn't even know what they were.  I would let others take advantage of me because I didn't want them to get mad at me or dislike me.  My thoughts and feelings told me I was worthless, so to feel important I needed other people to approve of me and affirm me.  I had beat myself down so badly that even when someone would compliment me, I didn't believe them.  I can't count the times over the years that my husband has lovingly told me I was beautiful, and even though I would say thank you, I didn't fully believe him because I didn't "feel" beautiful.  I desperately wanted to be free of these things.  I had suffered with these things far too long.  It was my heart's desire to have healing and wholeness in these areas.  I was so tired of the constant war going on in my mind.  I wanted to have healthy thoughts and healthy relationships.  I wanted to be able to love myself, so I could truly love others.  I started crying out to the Lord to show me what was at the root of those toxic thought patterns.  I was ready for a change, no matter what it took.  Little did I know what was in store for me when I prayed that prayer.

This is where I will close for today my friends.  Stay tuned for more on Wednesday when I will pick back up with my next post entitled, "I Was Blind, But Now I See."  Here is a quick review of what we've talked about so far:  The first step to walking in freedom from toxic thoughts is to acknowledge that we have problems in this area.  We can't deal with what we don't acknowledge.  Our feelings, actions, and attitudes will follow our thoughts.  Try to continue to think about what you're thinking about.  Keep a journal of your thoughts if that helps.  And of course, ask the Lord to show you the root of those toxic thoughts if that's something you struggle with.  He wants freedom for you more than you do.  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

"It's easy to quit, it takes faith to go through." ~Joyce Meyer
(If you haven't read Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer, I highly recommend it.)

*Scripture verses to encourage you*
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."~Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you."~Isaiah 43:2 (AMP)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

What Was I Thinking?

Have you ever had times where someone told you some things you didn't want to hear?  You know what I mean, that thing called "constructive criticism." How did you take what was being said?  Did you get upset or offended?  Did you think they were judging you?  If you reacted in any of these ways, please know you're not alone. I struggled in these areas for most of my life.  Instead of taking the time to stop and listen to what was being said to me, I would put up a wall as soon as I thought they were saying something to correct me; even if it was not meant to come across in a judgmental way.  It was an automatic response for me because of the self-worth and rejection issues I struggled with all my life.  It took me many years to finally figure out why I was reacting the way I was.  I'm happy to say that I've gotten much better in how I respond to things like that over the last few years now, but I have not by any means arrived in this area. I'm still learning. The rejection and abuse I went through as a child made it very hard for me to hear "constructive criticism" over the years.  I would get hurt and offended because my way of processing things was messed up.  I would revert back to those old feelings I suffered as a child even though I was no longer in the situation that caused all the hurt and pain.  I was stuck in old ways of thinking.  I had a huge wall around my heart.  It was kinda like a defense mechanism that I was using to try to protect myself from further hurt.  The sad thing is this defense mechanism was distorting my view of the truth.  I was seeing and hearing things based on my own negative thought patterns.

I believe God knew how important it would be for us to get rid of all that garbage (stinkin' thinking) and to change the way we think; particularly in the areas where we have self-worth and rejection issues.  He said in Romans 12:2 for us to renew our minds and to completely change the way we think.  It's amazing how messed up our thoughts can get when we see things through the eyes of rejection.  We may feel angry, bitter, or even think we're worthless.  Our negative thought patterns can hinder every relationship we have, even the one we have with God.  I finally got to the point where I knew God had so much more for me and He didn't want me to be in bondage to those toxic thoughts.  I had to learn to think about what I was thinking about.  That sounds funny doesn't it?  How do you think about what you're thinking about?  We CAN change all those toxic thought patterns.  One way to do that is to ask ourselves some questions before allowing those negative thoughts to take over, again.  We can use Philippians 4:8 as a way to figure out if our way of thinking is in line with what God says. God tells us to think on things that are pure and lovely, things that are true and of good report, things that are noble and right.  What are you thinking about?  Over the next couple of posts I will elaborate more on what helped me to change my negative thought patterns.  I would however, like to ask you to take a few days to really think about what you're thinking about.  Maybe you could write down your thoughts to keep track of what you're actually thinking.  You may be surprised. Please feel free to share any areas where you may be struggling with your thoughts, or if you would like prayer for those things.

The next post coming up on Monday is called, "You Are What You Think."  Until then, be blessed my friends!

*Scripture References:

Romans 12:2- Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. (AMP)

Philippians 4:8-  For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. (AMP)

Taking the Plunge

Well, it looks like I am taking the plunge in the blogging world. I've had a few friends tell me that I really should do this, so here we go. I must say, I am a little apprehensive setting out on this new venture, but excited all at the same time. I hope the pearls I share with you will encourage and uplift you, as well as help you grow in your daily walk with the Lord. I hope to get my first post on here later tonight. I have a busy day today, so stay tuned! Have a great day friends!