"Do not be anxious about anything..." Philippians 4:6 (ESV)
"You are not liked."
"Who are you to think you could do that?"
"Why did you say that? Everyone thinks you're annoying."
"Your kid just illustrated every inadequacy you have as a mom."
"You are invisible."
Have you ever been taunted by these thoughts? I have. Why do we let such destructive words fall hard on our souls? Toxic thoughts are so dangerous because they leave no room for truth to flourish. And in the absence of truth, lies reign.
The other day I was discussing something with my husband and I said, "I know you think I'm being annoying and overly protective about this but..."
He stopped me and said, "How do you know that's what I'm thinking? Please don't hold me liable for saying things that are really only thoughts in your mind."
Wow. He's so right. He hadn't said those things. I was assuming he was thinking them and operating as if those toxic thoughts were reality.
I think we girls do this way too often. People aren't thinking about us and assessing us nearly as much as we think they are.
As Christian women we should hold our thoughts to a higher standard. How dare these run away thoughts be allowed to simply parade about as if they are true and manipulate us into feeling insecure, inadequate, and misunderstood! Oh how much trouble we invite into our lives based on assumptions. We are instructed:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me - practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:6-9 NIV 1984)
This is probably a verse you've read before. But, have you thought of applying it to your every thought...especially the toxic ones?
We are to think on, ponder and park our minds on constructive thoughts—not destructive thoughts. Thoughts that build up not tear down. Thoughts that breathe life not drain the life from us. Thoughts that lead to goodness not anxiety.
So, here are three questions we'd do well to ask ourselves when thoughts are dragging us down.
1. Did someone actually say this or am I assuming they are thinking it?
If they actually said it, deal with it then. If I'm assuming it, that's unfair to them and unnecessarily damaging to me. Instead of staying anxious, I need to seek truth by seeking God and asking Him for peace.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
2. Have I been actively engaging with truth lately?
The more we read God's truths and let truth fill our mind, the less time we'll spend contemplating untruths.
Thinking run-away, worrisome thoughts invites anxiety. Thinking thoughts of truth wraps my mind in peace and helps me rise above my circumstances.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
3. Are certain situations or friendships feeding my insecurities?
If so, maybe I need to take a break from these for a season.
I need to seek friendships that are characterized by truth, honor, and love.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Good gracious I know this is tough stuff. I know these issues can be more complicated than three simple questions. But it's a good place to start holding our thoughts accountable.
After all, how a woman thinks is often how she lives.
I think we need to read that one again, don't you? How a woman thinks is often how she lives. May we think upon and live out truth—and only truth today.
Dear Lord, reveal to me untruths throughout my day that can so easily distract and discourage me. Help me see You and Your truth in all I do. You have taught that only Your truth will set me free. In Jesus' Name, Amen.