I have this nasty little problem of meditating on my problems and all of the little details of a bad situation. I explore the different ways the situation could theoretically end badly. Not real life – I simply invite all sorts of crazy thoughts to take root. I call friends or who ever will listen to complain and rehash my problem with them. Or I google the issue and look for ways others in the world have solved for it.
All the while, my anxiety rises. Bad feelings wash over me.
I once believed my thoughts and feelings were out of my control, like a strong current of water pushing against me. I didn’t realize I possess the power to create and control them. After all, don’t they just pop up by surprise?
Thankfully the Lord is leading me to see, that is a lie. My feelings flow from my thoughts. And here’s the good news, I choose what I allow my mind to dwell on.
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2
The bible tells me that I CAN control my thoughts and choose what to set my mind on. My mind is like a television with several channels. Some channels bring life, others death. It’s up to me to change the channel and set it on the things of God. Why is this important?
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-15
So, why is this important? Because one approach brings life and the other death. It all starts with my own evil desire. Mind you, evil desire isn’t this spooky thing we see in Hollywood. For me, its most often a way to get my valid needs (love, protection, etc.) met without going to God. I meditate on my problems without involving God.
Step One: Evil desires – Meditating on my problems
Step Two: Temptation – I need to deal with the pain this problem is creating
Step Three: Sin – I get my needs met apart from God – This may look like calling my friend and justify myself so they can tell me something that makes me feel good about myself.
Step Four: Death
So I choose to redirect at step one and change the channel.
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 is praiseworthy – Think about such things. Philippians 4:8