How many times have I lost out on a dream, an activity, a relationship, or an spiritual moment because of my destructive thinking? How many times have you done the same?
I’ve never liked self-help gurus or pastors who only teach the power of positive thinking. It’s not that I don’t agree with some of the underlying premise; it’s ultimately because I don’t trust them as legitimate sources, whether that is due to their inordinate amount of excess in which they revel, their elaborate attention to their own public persona, and their overly gushiness about how wonderful life can be. It’s sickening, quite honestly.
Life can be amazing, but it’s not always going to look like financial blessing, a big house in the suburbs, two and a half kids, a flourishing career, or a brain that fully functions with proper serotonin levels.
What I’m about to share with you is not self-help in the sense that I’m feeding you a feel-good word to digest. Rather, I’m suggesting something completely beyond myself, something I have yet to grasp fully in my own struggle with destructive thinking.
Your thoughts dictate your future.
There you have it. That’s the thought. I know, very inspiring. Makes you want to slide down a rainbow of utter happiness, right?
Here’s what is so incredibly difficult to absorb about this truth: my thoughts are often WAY out of control and ridiculously destructive. As someone with an anxiety disorder, this is even more of a challenge for me than most “regular” people. What have I learned when I’ve been consumed with fear and despair? That my life ends up being a fearful and terrifying place to live. I’ve also had many days where life was full of wonder, creativity, grace, and peace. The result? Life. Peace. Grace. Creativity.
I’m not suggesting that you tell yourself lies to think better of yourself than you ought. On the contrary, what I’m suggesting is that you accept the fact that you are a person with all the brokenness, the frailty, the brilliance, the depression, the grace, the creativity, the love, the hope, the despair that you have in this very moment. It’s not accepting the dark and broken places as “good” or “true” about you; it’s acknowledging that they are there, that you want to heal, and that you are not the same person today that you were yesterday.
You are not your dysfunctions, your brokenness, your depression, or your despair. On the flip-side, you are not your creativity, your grace, your compassion, or your goodness. Those are mere expressions; you are so much more than these alone.
You are a human being, created in the image of God, loved by your Creator, and marked with the lasting fingerprints of He who breathes every life into existence. His extraordinary love for you was expressed in his own blood spilled on the cross in the death of Jesus to restore to you life!
With that in mind, how do you think of yourself, your world, and God?
As it says in the Scriptures,
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right,and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” – Philippians 4:8
And how can we do this, even when the world in our minds is full of mass chaos? As it says in Ephesians:
“Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:17
Salvation: grace given to us when we were in our deepest need, our deepest failures, and our worst sins. When you are overcome with the despair, remembering that – no matter what – God holds you with His grace is what can carry you through any trial, difficulty, or despair you can ever experience. You won’t necessarily be happy or even full of positivity when you choose life over despair. But there is something much better waiting for you: hope. And our hope in Jesus will never fail us.