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The Importance of Taking Captive Our Thought Lives (and what that practically can look like)



Anxiety.


It's hard to talk about, but it's a reality I know so many of us are facing. Anxiety is like a spiral; once it has a grip on you, it's really hard to get out. It's a dark, lonely place. And after struggling with anxiety for so many years, and believing I was "over it", I thought I knew everything I needed to know about anxiety and getting through it. I thought I unlocked the door to peace and I'd never struggle with anxiety again, at least not really bad anxiety like I have in the past.


Hah. Until I did.


Seemingly out of nowhere, my anxiety has made a very obvious appearance in my life again. It's been a hard couple of weeks, that's for sure.


A few weeks ago, I was praying over this struggle, this battle waging in my mind. I'm committed to not letting go of my faith ever again, and I was crying out to God for help because anxiety makes you feel like you're stuck and never, ever getting out of it. I knew I couldn't fight it without His strength, and one night, God revealed something that has changed my mindset and my struggle with mental health forever.


A huge reason why my anxiety had gotten so bad, so quickly was that there were so many unhealthy, untrue thoughts going wild inside my head, and instead of dealing with them, for months I tried to slap a band-aid on them and say I was okay.


I was not okay.


After my breakup, after being sidelined in the sport I loved most, after dealing with disappointment and rejection over and over and over again, I started to believe some really nasty stuff about myself. I had such a negative view of myself that the lies I was believing didn't seem like lies after a while.


But they were most definitely lies, and letting those lies stick around for so long, ignored, was not good for my health - mental, physical, or spiritual. My anxiety was consuming me, I was getting increasingly more exhausted and couldn't focus, my appetite lessened, and worst of all, God felt oh so far.


Majorly because I had left my mind unchecked, unfiltered for too long.


God made it very clear to me that something had to change, and so it did. One night, I got my Bible, a pen and a piece of paper and drew a line down the middle. On one side, I wrote down the lies I was believing about myself. I spent intentional time examining the toxic ways I viewed myself, and as painful as it was, I admitted every single one of those thoughts to God. On that piece of paper. For me to be brutally honest with myself about.


I couldn't lie to myself any longer. I couldn't pretend like I was okay or like I was "over it". I couldn't cover it up or stuff it down. It was hard, most definitely. And slightly embarrassing. But I laid it all down before Jesus and then the real work began.


Between each lie, I left extra space, so that on the other side of the paper, I had three lines to write down three truths about what God says about me. Not what my friends say, not what the self-love culture says, not what the self-help books say. What God says about me, straight outta the Bible.


(I chose three because one day, a long time ago, my dad told me that for every negative thing that came out of my mouth, three positive things had to come out as well to simply "even out" the negative thing. Thanks, Dad.)


Anyway, for every lie, I spent time scouring the Bible (and the internet) to find verses that counteracted these things I was believing about myself. And while I knew the majority of those verses, my mind was blown. Because there were an abundance of verses that completely shut down these lies I was believing. I didn't feel ashamed - I felt humbled. All this time, I saw myself in this awful light, but God saw me as "chosen, beloved, and dearly loved"?


If the God of the universe, if my creator, sees me that way, then there must be some truth to it. And if the whole goal of being a Christian is being transformed to be more like Jesus, then that includes my mindset - no matter how hard it is.


Now, I have a list of all the lies I've believed about myself, three times as many truths and Scripture to back it up.


In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes, "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 in Romans, he challenges us: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."


I've heard these verses all my life, but just now, they're hitting differently. These are action verses. It takes more than good intentions and happy thoughts to keep our mind in check. This is war (Ephesians 6:12-13), and we must utilize the tools God has given us so that we can do all that He's called us to. It is so important that we destroy the lies that the devil is feeding us and replace them with the truth before they destroy us.


After simply acknowledging the lies I was allowing to consume me, and finding the verses to combat them, my mindset is already shifting. My anxiety isn't completely gone, and I still fall back into the old lies sometimes, but there is freedom in knowing that I don't have to stay in that place. There is so much joy knowing that God is fighting with me in this battle, and that I am more than the things I've believed about myself.

 

My mom once told me that our feelings can't be dictators, but that they should be indicators. What are your feelings indicating? Is it possible that the lies you've been believing have sent you into a spiral, just like me?


Today, take inventory of your thought life. Is it healthy? Is it feeding you life, or is your mindset draining you? If so, I'm proud of you! If not, I challenge you to spend some time talking to God and diving into Scripture for the truth. There is freedom in the Lord, and in Him, we find abundant life!


What has helped you fight lies and/or an unhealthy mindset? I'd love to know in the comments!



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