As I go through an online study of Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions, I will be posting our study message here every Friday. Even for those not taking part in the study, I encourage you to check it out every Friday and see how it speaks to you.
This week, we’ve focused on changing our thought patterns. On p.22, Lysa says, “We won’t develop new responses until we develop new thoughts.”
How many times have you prayed hard and had every intention of changing how you react to certain situations only to get angry at yourself for reacting the exact same way just minutes or days later? For me, I’ve questioned if it’s even possible for me to change how I react. I’ve asked myself, “Am I always going to be this way? What’s wrong with me that I can’t control my tongue? Why do I go from 0 to explosive in .1 second?” I’ve considered myself hopeless because I feel like I’m trying so hard to make that change, and I genuinely want that change, but it’s not happening.
The answer is that I’m not developing new thoughts. I’m not renewing my mind. Instead, I’m spending time focusing on how badly I’m failing and how angry I am about whatever just happened, and I’m not changing those thoughts. Of course, I’m going to keep reacting the same when I’m letting the anger continue to build up and when I am focusing so much on how bad I failed . . . again. I’m not speaking life into myself.
Remember how chapter 1 says we are going to have imperfect progress and that it takes slow, baby steps that sometimes make us feel like we aren’t moving? The key is that we are moving, and we are moving forward. It may take a while before we see the change, but it will happen. BUT if we take a step forward only to beat ourselves up when we don’t see the change immediately, we will be pushing ourselves back to where we were.
The progress comes first from our change in thoughts and then we will see the change in actions. Change in thought will eventually make a change in the heart, and that’s when you’ll really see the difference.
How can you renew your mind and develop your thoughts? Well, first, you have to spend time with God. There can be NO EXCUSES. One of the kids get sick and needs you – no excuses. You get hit with a deadline and more work than any one person can do – no excuses. Find time to spend with God whether it’s in the middle of the nap time that you’d like to also be a part of because you’re exhausted or during a movie that your sweet one is watching or after everyone goes to bed. You’re tired, yes. But God will renew your strength and energy if you just give him some of your time!
I’ve used all of the excuses, and they are 100% justifiable, but that doesn’t mean they are right. God did so much for you, and you’re asking him to help you in this area, so you have to give him your time. Time with God isn’t simply praying a to-do list for him. It’s a 2 way conversation and needs to have limited distractions.
You Have Control
In chapter 2, we are reminded that we can accept or refuse our thoughts. Your thought life does not have to control what you do. You have the control, whether you believe it yet or not, to take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Once you take that thought captive and make it obedient to Christ, you can move forward and take control of your actions.
You have a choice: are you going to think destructively or constructively? Whatever consumes your thoughts is what will present itself through your actions. To remain in control and not become the “freak-out woman” mentioned at the end of Chapter 2, you must develop a constructive way of thinking. You must come to a place where you realize you can face things that are out of your control and not act out of control. All it takes is developing new thoughts through renewing your mind.
Renewing Your Mind and Developing Your Thoughts in 6 Easy Steps:
- Make time for God every day
- Read the word See My Post “Don’t Forget SOAP” written on Wednesday if you need tips in this area
- When praying, make sure to ask God for help in this area, but don’t spend all your prayer time focused on this. Pray for other people, praise God for his truth and speak it over you – this means pray from Scripture. Praise him that he took the time to create you with such intricate detail (Ps. 139:13) and that you were chosen by God before you were even conceived (Jer. 1:5). Praise more than Request. You’ll be amazed at what happens.
- Throughout the day, capture those negative words you’re telling yourself. Capture those thoughts of what happened earlier in the day, and stop them in their tracks. I literally have to say, “STOP!” sometimes.
- Replace them with prayer for someone else, someone not related to the situation, or praise for God changing you, or speak scripture that contradicts your thought.
- Trust God to be working inside of you as you do this each day.
Your 21 Day Challenge
Did you know studies show it takes 21 days to make a habit? I want to challenge you to start today. Start developing new thoughts. Start renewing your mind. This is not something you do only when you’re in a heated moment. This is something you do daily, and it’s even better if you can do it more than once a day.
Give yourself 21 days. This doesn’t mean you’ll be a completely different person, but do this consistently for 21 days, and see if there’s a measurable change in your thoughts and actions. I’m willing to bet you’ll find you can capture thoughts much easier, and you may even find that you don’t have to change your thinking as often as you do today.
What do you think? Are you up to the challenge?