Does you mind quickly run down rabbit holes and get lost in the darkness? Do little things become big things in your head? Are you automatically assuming hardship, proposing failure, preparing for bad news?
When scripture says to “take captive your thoughts and make them obedient”, this is exactly what it’s talking about. You get to decide what you think about. You alone have the power to redirect your thoughts. The crazy thing is, your thoughts, no matter how totally bizarre and unfounded they may be, absolutely have the power to make your life worse. You can think your way into sickness. You can think your way into despair. You can think your way into a full blown anxiety attack without a single thing actually happening in reality.
Your thoughts can’t be trusted. They can’t be let loose to run around like wild banshees. If your thoughts have been having a riot, demolishing your peace, spray painting over your goals, smashing your dreams, stomping on your hopes, then girl it’s time to lasso those thoughts, take them captive, and make them obedient.
My husband and I have been traveling for a long time now. We’ve lived with only our suitcases and our dog, chasing the most beautiful beaches and majestic mountains. We’ve found them y’all! When we sat out on this journey we said we would travel until we found the place we never wanted to leave. In March we came to the Florida Keys for a few weeks, and well … we still don’t want to leave. Every morning we wake up and say ‘yip, I still want to be here.’ So, I guess you could say we’ve decided to live here for a bit.
And oh yeah, surprise … it’s hurricane season!
I’ve never been in a hurricane. I’ve only watched weather men on the news standing sideways in a rain coat. But we discovered one was heading our way. (A hurricane, not a sideways weather man.)
Now, let me tell you how different brains work in different ways. If you’ve studied the enneagram, you know there are 9 different personality types, and each one is totally unique. My husband is a 5 on the enneagram. He’s ‘The Thinker’. He’s listened to 17 podcasts and read 5 books on preparing for a hurricane. He’s ordered supplies on Amazon and they will be arriving 5 hours before the storm arrives on its projected path. Y’all, we may not own a bed, a pillow, or blanket of our own, but we now have solar panels, a small gas camp-stove, 10 gallons of water and 5 pounds of rice and beans. Our dog even wears a special hurricane collar now. We good!
Me, well I’m a 7 on the enneagram. Like surprise, I’m ‘The Enthusiast’! I know you’re probably shocked and perplexed over this news after listening for a while, but I’m the fun one. 🙂 I learn there’s a hurricane on the way, we’re stocked up with a camp-stove and solar panels, and I’ve immediately turned this whole thing into an adventure I could sell tickets to. This is going to be epic!
2 days before the hurricane was scheduled to hit The Keys, I was having a conversation with a few BIG Life girls. They’re all asking what our plans are and if we’re going to evacuate. I begin sharing with them my visions of hosting live devotional from a hurricane, screaming into the microphone over the howling winds, and suddenly Jessica delivers a one liner I will never forget. Jessica has a gift of saying things in a way she doesn’t really mean, in the funniest twisted way. She’s originally from Brazil, so her English goes a little sideways sometimes. She says to me “Pamela, let’s just say you survive …”
And it was like a cliffhanger … Let’s just say you survive … dot … dot … dot …
Well Jessica, I wasn’t planning on NOT surviving. Two weeks later we are still laughing about this conversation, especially since the hurricane didn’t even bring rain to Key Largo and our solar panels are still sitting in a box.
But I can’t let that sentence go. Let’s just say you survive.
You, you listening. Let’s just say you survive. This isn’t the end. I know it sucks. I know this may be a really hard season. I know a whole lot of things are really uncertain and the future looks shady. But have you turned your thoughts towards surviving it?
2 Corinthians 4: 8-9 (The Passion Translation): “Though we experience every kind of pressure, we’re not crushed. At times we don’t know what to do, but quitting is not an option. We are persecuted by others, but God has not forsaken us. We may be knocked down, but not out.”
You know what knocks you out quicker than anything … YOUR THOUGHTS! You know what crushes you more completely than your circumstances … YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES! You know what makes you quit? Oh it’s not the weather, it’s not the restless night, it’s not the busy schedule … IT’S YOUR THOUGHTS THAT CREATE THE EXCUSE GIVING YOU THE OPTION OF QUITTING!
If you’re allowing your mind to run down those rabbit holes into dark places, you will only be surrounded by darkness. Don’t dwell there. Your thoughts have been running you, and they might have run you directly into a ditch where you’ve been stuck.
2 years ago my daughter Alexa left for basic training in the US Army. She was beyond terrified. She didn’t know what was going to happen, but she knew it wasn’t going to be good. The letters she wrote to us were heart breaking. She was miserable. She was tired. She was weary. Every day she questioned if she could keep going.
But as a little girl, we taught Alexa how to take captive her thoughts. We taught her how to make her thoughts obedient and not be carried away by them. And she made it. Was it easy? Absolutely not. Afterall, she was the terrified little girl that refused to get in an airplane so we bought a Ford Excusrion and all our family vacations were roadtrips. Now, here she was jumping out of airplanes going Airborne! Others quit. It was too hard. But it wasn’t physically too hard, it was mentally too hard. Their thoughts had crushed them. Their thoughts took them out. Their thoughts made quitting an option.
Just last week Alexa and I were reliving that day 2 years ago when she left home and joined the Army. She still remembers the fear. She still remembers the sadness, and she said “wow Mom, look at me now!” She’s 20 years old, living in Italy, spending her weekends in Venice wearing Italian designer clothes, eating gelato, living the dream! And she gets to jump out of airplanes in the Italian mountains.
Hey listen to me … start making plans for after you survive this. Dial in your thoughts on God getting you through, God making a way, and you coming out of this on the other side. No giving up this time. No more allowing your knock down to become your knock out. Get back up, take captive your thoughts and make them obedient.
Let’s just say you survive! YES, YOU SURVIVE. You make it through this. This isn’t the end. Your entire world is not going to stop here.
Where will you be in 2 years? Well, you could be somewhere radically different. You have no idea just how good the good plans God has for you really are. But your thoughts may just determine how long it takes you to get there. Your thoughts may be making the journey miserable.
They don’t have to. You decide what you think about. You decide how you’re going to journey through this hardship. You decide what you’re going to do while you survive this!
And just in case you need a little help, Philippians 4:8 gives you an entire list of things to think about ” 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.”