“Why didn’t Rhonda return my phone call or even text, is she mad at me?”
“Would I look better if I got bangs at my next haircut?”
“I hate wearing a mask, but are people judging me, thinking me selfish? I’m gonna respect the rules, I just don’t like them.”
“I haven’t made a statement about racial injustices in our country. Does that mean I’m not sensitive enough or checking my white privilege? Should I post and share a link on how much I care and love all people to prove my point?”
“What about our finances? Are we going to be okay with Dan’s business and me speaking less because of Covid-19? I love being able to serve at the Mexican restaurant again, but I hate how it’s different. I hate wearing a mask.”
“Isn’t eating Lays Potato Chips in the morning like hash browns for breakfast? I wonder why Rhonda’s mad at me and hasn’t gotten back in touch with me?”
And there, above, are a handful of my thoughts, which swirl rapidly in my mind’s orbit for 10 minutes or so and then go back to rewind, and repeat.
Our minds have so much power, yet we choose what we think on. When I choose to be led by my feelings, life is often hard for me. Right now, life is crazy for our entire world, no matter who we are or where we live. Do you maybe need a “mind change,” just like your vehicle needs an oil change now and again? You think that maybe I do, too?
I have to remember I am Christ’s kid. I belong to Him and my identity comes from Him. Therefore, I can choose to think on the truth of what He says and have hope in the craziness. I talk to people all the time who believe in God, call themselves followers of Christ, but who haven’t taken their thoughts captive. Part of my responsibility as a child of God is to keep my thoughts healthy and strong.
You may know a lot of scripture, and volunteer in church, and help with other needful organizations working on social justice issues, showing mercy and loving others -- and that is wonderful. Yet, with all the good works, your mind can be a mess. Good works can’t bring lasting peace of mind.
When I read the Bible, listen to a sermon or even sing a song, I need to be mindful in asking myself, “Am I allowing the Holy Spirit to change me and my thought life, or am I thinking about whether I should have bangs cut at my next haircut or why Rhonda hasn’t contacted me back?” Perhaps I am faithful in good causes, but lacking in the word of God?
We may be doing the right things outwardly, but not really thinking about the right things. God is clear from Philippians 4:8 to; “Think on 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.”
But how often do we do the opposite and think on what is negative, awful, challenging, difficult and worthy of complaining about? I know, for me, I need to spend less time on social media and listening to worldly news, thoughts and opinions and think on, “The Good News” while applying the promises of God to my everyday life.
I often read the Psalms aloud and it really helps. Ephesians chapter six includes the “Six Piece Armor Set.” God tells us to put on the armor of God because it isn’t gonna just jump on us. We have to put it on:
1) Helmet of Salvation (comb in hair or product)
2) Breastplate of Righteousness (bra or t-shirt)
3) Belt of Truth (underwear)
4) Feet of Peace (socks or shoes)
5) Shield of Faith; extinguishing the enemy’s darts he throws your way (mirror you look in each day)
6) Sword of the Spirit-God’s Living Word (toothbrush)
I came up with these simple everyday items we use so I could “put on the armor” easily. I teach/speak on “The Armor of God” at conferences, and yet I’ve gone days without being spiritually aware, prepared or without thinking twice about getting dressed adequately for the daily battle.
Feelings are powerful, but they don’t have to be overpowering. Put on the armor of God and think right away how the Helmet of Salvation is there to protect your thoughts, because the salvation by the blood of the Lamb is yours to claim. Think on the hope of who He is and why He came. Think about what it means to be a believer in Jesus.
I love how author and speaker Chad L. Bird explains, “How do you know you’re a Christian?" Not because your heart is good and pure, but because the heart of Christ pulses for a love for you that will never end. Not because your deeds are righteous, but because He has been righteous on your behalf and clothes you with that righteousness. Not because you have lived for Him, but because He has lived and died and risen for you. Not because you asked Him to be your Savior, but because while you were yet a sinner, Christ died for you, chose you, called you, and baptized you as His own beloved child.
I don’t know about you, but when I let God’s word seep into my heart and think about how He loves me for who I am and not for what I do or don’t do, I’m relieved and thankful.
Finally, be wise and choose what you think on, for as Proverbs 23:7 speaks; “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he…” followed by Ephesians 4:23; “Be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind, having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude.”
The more you meditate on the right things, the less trouble you’re gonna have with Satan trying to control your thoughts. That’s how it works: The more we focus on God, the less often the devil can defeat us. We can walk in peace knowing that while everything isn’t good, God always is. He is not surprised by what’s happening and He’s always on the move with a plan of redemption. Nothing is wasted with Him.
Life is hard, people are hard, and our minds can be such a mess. Choose what you think on and you’ll be surprised to see the changes of peace and joy that enter into your life.
Note: I decided bangs wouldn’t be a good look for me.
This column is a regular feature of the Detroit Lakes Tribune's monthly Faith page. Debbie Griffith is a Detroit Lakes-born speaker, radio personality and writer who now resides in International Falls, Minn.