“Far too often we choose to passively listen to ourselves. We sit back and let our view of God and life be shaped by our constantly shifting feelings about our ever-changing circumstances. Life is busy. Often hard. Full of distractions. And before a morning cup of coffee, our passive listening can take us on a roller-coaster ride as we review a hundred different topics and experience a dozen varied emotions. Is it any wonder we’re so often unhappy? We’re listening to ourselves. We need to start talking to ourselves instead.” (Cross Centered Life, CJ Mahaney)
Before I scare you to death let me explain…
I often find myself lost in the dialogue of my mind. However, it’s not always to my benefit. In fact, in my early twenties, while my husband was going through seminary, I had several experiences in which I found myself completely torn. At that time, God literally gave me the phrase “when your heart and head don’t match, it’s not me.”
What did He mean? When what I am feeling doesn’t line up with what I know the truth of God’s word says, then those thoughts and feelings are not from Him.
I began at that point in my early twenties to learn how to take thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ) and it is a skill I have found incredibly difficult to master.
As I find my mind and/or emotions dwelling in places that I know are not established in the truth of Christ, I find myself literally saying and/or praying aloud, “NO! This is not truth!” And, if you haven’t been a part of my inner monologue and you’re in the room, you get quite a startle. It happens to my students a lot :).
The problem is five minutes later my mind is often back where in the same place again! I especially hate it when I intentionally begin praying about whatever non-truth it is that’s consuming me only to find two minutes into my prayer, I’ve quit praying and am thinking about IT again, whatever IT is. (Tell me I’m not the only one this happens to.)
While I was reading from The Cross Centered Life, God gave me a connection between something a coworker does with mantras and this. First of all a mantra is defined as a repeated word or phrase, often a truism (self-evident, obvious truth).
She uses mantras all the time. An example of this is when a seventh grade student is beginning to get under her skin. She repeats to herself over and over “I will not let a twelve year old ruin my day.” There are many times she even says it to the student as a way of letting them know that she is not mad, she is simply offering the appropriate consequence to their choice.
I have begun doing this when I feel myself getting upset with a student or my child or anyone, and it’s amazing how I’m able to remove the emotion and remain level headed.
This simple mantra illustrated to me that there was a step I was missing. If I just set out to get rid of the negative or destructive thoughts that fill my heart or mind, I leave a hole for them creep back into.
Instead of just naming and claiming the destructive thoughts that go through my mind, I need to replace them with truth. Tweet This I need to give my mind a new place to dwell. When I do this, the focus is no longer on just stopping the negative, but it’s on engaging the truth.
I believe this is why memorizing scripture is so important and have a new desire to memorize more of it. When our feelings and circumstances begin to tempt us into becoming anything less than lovely people, these memorized passages, mantras in their own right, are truths that fill the holes of captured thoughts and give us a much better foundation to stand on.
So, the next time you find yourself lost in thought and realize it’s not rooted in biblical truth, stop listening to yourself, and start talking!
What verses do you find work especially well as mantras?