It’s been over 4 months since our family moved from Dallas/Richardson to Waco. In many ways it’s been a great move—we love our new church, home, schools, and friends we’ve made. We have much to be grateful for. We left a lot behind in our old home, schools, and church, but I recently noticed a few things I wished I’d left behind but somehow still made it to Waco. These aren’t items you pack or put into a box, although you might call it baggage. Moving to a new town and church does not mean you automatically leave your struggles (your baggage) behind.
Like many others, I struggle with my thought life. Sometimes I must deal with lustful thoughts. Other times it’s comparison or jealousy. But today I’m sharing about the negative emotions and thoughts that run rampant through my head.
In the last few weeks alone, here’s a small sampling of hurtful emotions and thoughts that have run through my brain:
- I’m not good at anything.
- I should have quit being a pastor when I left Watermark.
- I’m a bad dad. Husband. Friend. Son. Follower of Jesus.
- I’ll always be fat and will never really change.
- I’m lonely. No one likes me and I’ll never fit in at Harris Creek or in Waco.
- I’m scared I’m going to fail in my job.
- I can’t admit I’m struggling. Don’t let others know you’re weak. I need to fight this and fix it on my own.
I’ve battled a whole lot of stinkin’ thinkin’ the past few months. I’m tired of it and it’s time to fight these lies that waste my time and the time of others.
Getting Rid of Stinkin’ Thinkin’
Early in 2020 before the pandemic, I read Jennie Allen’s book Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts. I loved the book and told many to read it. It’s filled with scripture and is very honest and real.
The problem is that I didn’t apply what I read and therefore faced the consequences of my toxic, false thoughts. About a month ago as these negative thoughts ran through my head again, I knew it was time to review Jennie’s book and apply what I learned.
The bottom line as I reviewed Get Out of Your Head is that just about every time an emotion or thought comes in my head, I have a choice I can make of what to do with them. I can choose to entertain my emotions, feed them, and led it spiral down in the wrong direction. Or I can fight my emotions with truth. I don’t need to spiral down in my thoughts. The problem is that most emotions lead to thoughts which lead to behaviors that affect relationships and have consequences. Too often my negative emotions have negative consequences because I made the wrong choice of what to do with them.
Too many times I find my emotions and thoughts drifting out of control. I can tell because I isolate. I think too much of myself. Sometimes I wonder what others think of me. At other times I get jealous of others and what they can do. I wish I had someone else’s job. House. Car. Family.
What is it for you? What happens when your emotions and thoughts start spinning out of control.
You and I Have a Choice
If you remember nothing else from this post, remember that you have a choice of what you can do with these feelings, emotions, and thoughts. You can choose to entertain and feed them or you can fight them with truth. You can isolate and spiral down or you can invite others in. Allen says the greatest spiritual battle of our generation is being fought between our ears. And I think she’s right.
In Philippians 4:8, Paul writes, “Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.” I want to follow Paul’s counsel and think about what is right, pure, excellent, and worthy of praise. Unfortunately this isn’t my default so I need to fight the lies with truth.
I took two big steps to help get out of my rut.
1. I put a big spotlight on my issues and negatives thoughts and emotions. I confessed them to my wife, friends, and co-workers. Then I confessed my sinful thoughts and I asked for prayer and brought my issues into the light.
2. I re-read Get Out of Your Head. Reading this book has helped change my thought patterns and behaviors the last few weeks. I’m able to more quickly identify negative patterns and I more readily know how to fight the lies with truth. The book is loaded with scripture and biblical wisdom. I have zero hesitations recommending this book.
Jennie would be the first to tell you, Get Out of Your Head isn’t a cure all. But it’s a book I highly recommend and will for sure make my 2020 Favorite Books list. If you struggle with hurtful thoughts and emotions, read her book. I’d recommend listening to her podcast along the way as you listen. Her Made For This podcast is great, but specifically listen to season 3 of the podcast that goes along with the book.
Your Turn: Let’s help each other deal with stinkin’ thinkin’.
Share below so we can better help each other. When you struggle with your thoughts and emotions:
- What do you do?
- What scripture do you turn to?
- How do you share with others?