Phil 4:8 Finally, brothers, 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. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. NIV
All right, you have realized that God is with you and you have made that decision to trust Him fully. Now you have to work on your bad mental habits. The verse for you to truly take to heart is Phil 4:8-9.
That is not in the Bible just to take up space. God wants us to think about good things, Things that are pretty, noble, happy, righteous. He knows how our brains work, how they can be healthy.
This sounds like I am just saying “just stop thinking bad things”, like you are expected to just turn off a switch. Well…yes, actually. Truthfully, it is hard work, and at first it is “every second of every day” work. It is wearying and seems hopeless, but keep at it, because once you get the momentum going, it will come MUCH more easily to where you do not have to work as hard. You just have to retrain your thought patterns.
Let’s define “bad thought” now. A bad thought is any unpleasant, worrisome, depressing, self defeating thought that comes into your head. If you think “what if the kids get lost on the way to school” then that is a bad thought. If you think “I am SO fat” then that is a bad thought. If you think about a disturbing scene in a movie that you saw last night then that is a bad thought.
You might be thinking “Oh, come on. I’m an adult. Things aren’t all sunshine and roses, get real.”.
Now, let’s not let pride get in here. This is what God says, not me. Remember, I spent all my time in bad thoughts too. If you want to argue about this, you are going to have to take that up with Him.
God said to think about noble things, good things, lovely things because He knew how important our thought life is to our health, our faith, and our joy. Bad thoughts get you nowhere. Bad thoughts do nothing constructive. It is true that bad things happen in the world, but that does not mean that you have to dwell on them. If you can do something about a bad situation, then do it. If not, then pray about it and turn it completely over to the Lord. But do not dwell on it. Don’t rehash it. Don’t play the scene over and over in your head. It won’t help you, and right now you need to heal your brain. Saying things, even in jest, like “Oh, I am such a dunce” is not helpful to you. You need what God knows you need, and that is to keep ugly stuff out of your head.
You get out of your brain what you put in it, just like your body. If you eat, say, garden soil, you will not get any nutrition out of it. Your body will slowly starve because you are not putting anything useful into it.
The same is true of your brain: if you fill your brain with filth then you get filth. Right now you have filled your brain so full of filth that you generated from your fears that that is all your brain is capable of producing. Therefore you need to eliminate, not reduce but eliminate all the “bad” stuff. That includes self-generated thoughts, some television, some music, some books and magazines, maybe even some conversations. If it doesn’t fit the criteria that God gave us then it needs to be put away from you. That even includes the news.
Example: Joe works in an office where everyone is grouchy and irritable. The music is jarring, the work overwhelming and the boss is judgmental and irrational. How likely is Joe to be sunshine and roses? Not likely at all.
Now let’s say that Joe works in a place that is decorated in cool colors, well carpeted, the staff is pleasant and kind and the boss is relaxed and encouraging. How likely is Joe to be in a good mood at work? Pretty likely.
Now let’s apply that to your life. What thoughts go over in your head? What music do you listen to? What tv shows do you watch? What movies? What books do you read? Are they “heavy”, dramatic, suspenseful? Or are they sweet, calming and uplifting?
The problem is that you have been practicing thinking bad thoughts. You have been doing it for so long that your mind automatically does it now. Just like a tune that goes through your head, your brain is stuck in “bad thought mode”. You thought the bad thoughts perhaps as a way to prepare for “bad things” that happen to people. Yes, bad things do happen to people, but really there is nothing you can do to prepare mentally for something you don’t even know might happen. If you are like me then you have many different bad thoughts—care wrecks, fires, job loss, illness, death of members of your family. Think about that—I can think of no one who has had all that happen to them. You are trying to prepare for any eventuality. However, you are so busy trying to prevent the “what if”, that you are not living your life. It’s all because you do not have a tight rein on your thought life. This chapter is specifically to help you change that.