An exciting journey awaits when we deepen our understanding of who we are in Christ. Let’s face it, we spend too much time using unkind words toward ourselves, name-calling, and tearing ourselves down from the inside. We believe we’re incapable, unworthy, unloved, and insignificant. Jesus, on the other hand, says that we are gifted, valued, adored, and precious in His sight.
Taming our negative thoughts is critical to overcoming fear and anxiety or treating others with respect. It’s essential to consider our own identity based on who God says we are rather than what we accomplish (or fail to accomplish) each day.
There is often a great divide between how we feel and what we know to be true. Controlling our thoughts can prove a difficult hill to climb but it’s not impossible because we can fight them with the Sword of the Spirit. That is the Word of God.
When Emotions Grab Hold of Mindset
Rather than letting emotions grab hold of our mindset, are commanded take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. We’re empowered by the Lord to do so. That means that He gives us the ability to think as Jesus thinks, to have the “mind of Christ” as the Bible says (1 Cor 2:16).
Taming our thoughts is possible when we begin to use the Word of God as the mighty weapon that it is. A weapon is of no value to us when it sits on a shelf gathering dust. But when we take it down, dust it off, and put it to practice, we become proficient in wielding it and benefitting from its power.
By filling our minds with the truth of God’s Word, we push away any room in our thoughts for negativity and lies of the enemy. By meditating on and receiving God’s truth, we begin to shift our destructive mindset into one that equips and empowers us. Accepting ourselves for who God says we are in His Word brings victory and freedom instead of captivity and defeat.
Take Hold of the Truth
Isaiah 43:1 provides several notable truths about who we are in Christ:
“Now this is what the LORD says—
… Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.”
(Isaiah 43:1, HCSB).
According to God’s Word, the truth is:
We are redeemed
God calls us by name
We are His (He call us “Mine”)
Therefore, we are not to fear
Respond with Action
Read Isaiah 43:1 again slowly and receive it as the cherished gift from God that it is. Meditate on the words as if the Lord were speaking them directly to you.
Allow this truth to push away the negative thoughts you’ve thought about yourself today. Tame those thoughts with the truth of God’s Word. Throughout the day when you begin to think such things as “I can’t…” stop that thought in its tracks and say aloud, “But God’s Word says that I am redeemed. He has called me and a belong to Him.”
Embrace the Joy
There’s no doubt you’ll see an immediate breakthrough when you replace the lies of negative thinking with the truth of God’s Word. The more you actively receive and accept the love of Christ and see yourself as His beloved child, the more you’ll walk in confidence and assurance. You’ll stop putting so much pressure on yourself to perform well or to be perfect when you know that the Creator of the universe loves you just as you are today.
Walking through this practice daily will also bring blessing and assurance. You’ll soon find truthful thoughts come to the forefront of your mind more quickly. You’re taking steps toward taming your thoughts which will help mend relationships, move you into greater service for God, and naturally share the love of Christ with others.
I hope to see you back here for the next post in our series about taming thoughts.
Until then, may the Lord continue to strengthen and encourage us through His Word.
If we could sit down over coffee, would you answer this question honestly? Or would you show me your happy face? You know, the one we often bring out in public to make it look like everything is okay.
I’d truly love to know what you’re thinking. Because if you’re anything like me, your thoughts might be hard to control. Sometimes they run amuck with lies and misconceptions about ourselves. Instead of clinging to the truth of who we are in Christ, we replay the unkind thoughts and ugly, unpleasant musings.
You might reason, “They’re just thoughts—they don’t hurt anyone.” But I beg to differ.
The Dangers of Adopting a Negative Mindset
While it would be wonderful to have a warm, fuzzy identity in our own minds, the reasons to tame our thoughts far exceed the desire to feel good about ourselves. It may seem that our thoughts are harmless, but when we allow them to replay, we begin to believe them. And that comes with devastating and ever-increasing consequences. For instance,
A negative mindset causes us to become overly critical of others. We are suddenly hard to please and those around us feel as if they can do nothing right.
We begin to doubt our God-given gifts and talents.
This causes hesitation to serve our church, our community, or even of family. We draw back instead of stepping forward to get involved.
We succumb to the temptation to accept mediocrity instead of embracing the best God has for us. He offers more, but we convince ourselves that we’re comfortable with things as they are.
A mental fog can overtake us, dulling our peace and joy.
Discipline in our time with Jesus begins to wane, and soon we recognize that we don’t connect with Him the way we once did.
Our prayer life diminishes and we doubt its effectiveness.
We begin to overcommit and overwork, believing that it will help us “prove” ourselves.
We shrink back from making new friends or deepening our existing relationships.
It becomes hard to trust others.
We lose sight of the reality of the cross.
When we believe the lies that the enemy of our soul whispers into our hearts, it becomes second nature to estimate our personal value on what we do rather than who we are.
Taming Your Thoughts by Trusting God’s Truth
What if our struggles in marriage are due, in part, to the personal identity we hold of ourselves? Is it possible that our relationship issues, our lack of confidence in parenting, our battle with the bathroom scale, or that simmering anger that we seem to always carry with us, stem from our habit of listening to untrue thoughts about ourselves?
What if we could break free and step into the truth? Imagine what could transpire in our thoughts and then in our lives if we began to grasp the full richness of God’s glory and see ourselves as He sees us.
As daughters of the King, we have a Heavenly Father who loves us—just as we are—and is the Source of our true identity. Yet, rather than trusting in the truth of God’s Word, we yield to the temptation to find our value in the things we do, in what we produce, and in the opinions of others. It’s time to stop the madness and embrace all that the Lord has for us.
Today kicks off a new series of articles on the blog that will point us to the truth about who God says we are. I believe that all women need to hear that they are enough. They are worthy. They are loved. It’s time that we stopped estimating our value based on our mistakes, our histories, the unkind words of others, or the lies of the enemy. Those things can’t define us. Only God can do that.
Will you join me for an exciting journey where together we’ll deepen our understanding of who we are in Christ? I look forward to meeting you right back here and unpacking the exciting and trustworthy truth of God’s Word!
If you’re married, you’re going to make relational mistakes. You’ll say the wrong thing. Maybe you’ll sigh at the wrong time, or hold your eyebrows in the wrong expression, or worse. However it comes about, there is 100% certainty that you’ll disappoint your spouse. Since no marriage nor individual is perfect, disappointment is inevitable.
The good news is, we can quickly overcome these times of disappointment if a marriage receives proper care and focus. Then, we can more quickly set aside suspicious or selfish thoughts with the assurance that there’s no ill-intent involved. On the other hand, when TLC of marriage is neglected, challenging times can seem nearly impossible to conquer.
I’ve seen too many of what appear as unbreakable relationships (marriages, friendships, and family relationships) crumble from lack of attention. The hard reality is, we can’t strengthen a relationship while simultaneously neglecting it. No relationship is protected from breaking down without intentional effort to build it up.
One of the most memorable seasons of neglect in our marriage came as we lived through shift work. As a patrol deputy, Mike rotated onto an annual 4-month period of swing shift (5 pm – 3 am) and our schedules were completely opposite from one another. That’s tough on a young family, yet typical in law enforcement lives.
When I’d get up for work, he was just reaching his deep sleep zone, so it was me, alone, getting myself and the kids ready to face the day.
I’d arrive home from work after he was gone for the night. It was me, alone, picking up kids from their caregivers, preparing dinner (often resorting to drive through), helping with homework, and getting ready for bed.
Much of the time I felt like a single mom. It wasn’t fun, but we knew it was temporary so we determined to muddle through. We had amazing kids, great careers, and above-average income. We had good friends who shared at least one evening a week with us. Truly, we believed we’d “arrived.”
We didn’t know we needed to take time,
just the two of us,
to cultivate our marriage.
And so we didn’t.
The more time we spent disconnected from each other, the more selfish my thought life became. Selfish thoughts bred more selfish thoughts that worked in opposition to a healthy married life.
And then, some of those relational mistakes hit us. Some big ones. While we used to easily talking things out, the neglect of our relationship had weakened our trust. We weren’t communicating effectively and had each become too self-centered. We needed to discover how dating could transform our marriage.
It took us several years to get back on track. We had to make some significant change, letting go of things we valued in order to protect what we valued most. Eventually, with the Lord’s help we brought friendship, trust and balance back to our marriage. If I can name one thing—in addition to prayer—that had a monumental impact, it was prioritizing our date nights.
It can sound so “high-school” to say we’re dating our spouse. But consider the history of your own relationship. When did you get to know your spouse? Did you have one 10-minute conversation over coffee and realize this was true love? Was a quick hello and kiss on the cheek enough to develop a longing for life-long commitment? We get to know each other by spending time together. By talking, laughing, planning and even dreaming together.
Saying “I Do” shouldn’t mark the end
of a dating relationship,
but the promise to continue it.
No More Excuses
Sadly, dating our spouse is one of the first things that ends when the honeymoon is over. Pressures of life (careers, kids, finances, and many others) often distract us from prioritizing marriage. The reasons for NOT dating are many:
I see him /her all the time. I need some “me” time.
We don’t have a good baby sitter.
We feel guilty for leaving the kids after working all day.
Who has time for a date?
Cash flow is too tight for entertainment.
These are valid concerns, but also easy to overcome. The value of dating is not entertainment, it’s the investment of time into our relationships. It’s growing closer in friendship, trust, and communication. It’s the process of showing that you value and esteem each other.
How Dating Can Transform Your Marriage
After years of a very rough road in our marriage, a breakthrough came when we learned to laugh together again. We considered ourselves friends anew and romance sparked from there.
Dating remains one of our go-to marriage solutions. When communication begins to misfire (and it still does), we carve out time to spend alone. Our schedules remain untraditional and hard to manage, so we get creative with our time.
We meet for breakfast or sit outside to share morning coffee. We squeeze in lunch together whenever possible. A date can look like dinner out or a few hands of a card game at our kitchen table and can occur at any time of day or night. When Mike isn’t due home until very late in the evening, I take a short nap during the day so I’ll have the energy to spend time with him. Part of the fun of dating is finding inventive ways to sneak away together.
Dating is transformational. It reconnects us. Investing time in each other breaks down any walls of ill assumptions. It helps us re-center our focus on what matters most: God and our family. If Mike and I weren’t willing to continually invest in strengthening trust and connection, we’d have given up long ago. Instead, a series of dates helped (and continues to help) change our thought patterns and transform our marriage. I believe that with the right mindset and a focus on honoring the Lord, dating is effective enough to bring positive strides in any marriage.
I encourage you to get creative and break down the barriers that have quenched your old dating habits. Schedule a date night and spend some time laughing and connecting with your spouse. You’ll find the investment will pay priceless dividends.
Adultery is something that happens to other people. I never dreamed that it would find its way into our marriage story.
I certainly never imagined that it could be me who stumbled.
In spite of early convictions to never stray, I’d misjudged the strength of the enemy of our souls who constantly prowls. He moves with stealth precision, looking for someone to devour, for unsuspecting souls who think they’re immune to temptation.
I gave him an easy target.
That was over a quarter century ago. By the grace of God, our marriage survived. In fact, it did more than survive, it has thrived and provided my husband, Mike and I with more than three decades of strength, joy, satisfaction, and partnership.
Surviving Infidelity in Marriage
In one of the most miserable seasons of my life, I’d lost all hope for our marriage and asked Mike to move out of our home. He obliged. The pain of separation was colossal, bringing a hollow emptiness where despair ricocheted rampantly.
God met us there, in those long weeks of anguish.
Alone in separate beds, without the other knowing, we each turned to prayer. I was untrained and uncomfortable in intercession. Mike was rusty at best. But in the dark of night, we cried out, asking God for His direction and help. We prayed for our marriage, for each other, and for healing within our own hearts.
When we mustered courage to look into each other’s eyes, we recognized that neither of us were ready to call it quits. Over the weeks and months that followed, the Lord helped us re-establish a friendship and even find laughter. We began attending church and responding to our Savior as He drew us closer to Himself.
Eventually, we started to feel safe in each other’s presence. Our cracked foundation of trust was gradually mended by rekindled companionship and devotion.
Confessing the Secret
But I still held a secret that threatened to destroy it again in an instant. The affair had been over for years by this time, but God was actively pressing in, bringing conviction and prompting me to confess.
Today Mike and I share our story in the #IStillDo marriage series, Contending for the Covenant. It’s a truly remarkable collection of hope and encouragement for marriage. I hope you’ll take the time to read about our journey and many others who have flourished through the fiery trials of marriage.
Marriage is difficult but it can become easier with deliberate action and intentional practices. One of the practices I recommend most when seeking a stronger marriage is prayer.
Last summer, I released a prayer devotional with a specific emphasis on praying for your marriage. I’ve heard from a number of readers who immediately saw changes in their own hearts and eventually experienced improvements in their relationships. That’s because prayer is powerful and effective. (See James 5:16).
Prayer is Powerful and Effective
When we speak to the Lord, when we pray, God’s Word tells us that He hears (see Psalm 55:17). And not only does He hear, but He takes action. I think of the blind man who cried out to get the attention of Jesus as He walked by (see Luke 18:35-42). Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” When the blind man asked for sight, the Lord granted his request.
Make no mistake, Jesus already knew what the man desired, but He wanted to hear it from his own mouth. Just as we often know the needs of our own children before they ask, we prefer to hear it from their own mouths. We wish to discuss it, to spend time with them, to hear their hearts, and to deepen our relationship with them. I believe God feels the same way. He adores when we seek Him in prayer and share the burdens and the joys of our hearts. He cherishes our attention and the ways that we draw near to Him. Then He, in turn, draws near to us.
Because God unleashes His power when we pray, we must keep seeking, keep asking, and keep petitioning for the needs of our man. Our prayer helps our husband. While he’s away at work, or on the golf course or traveling for business, or coaching little league, our prayers sustain him. They encourage and strengthen him—whether he knows that we’re praying or not.
I regularly pray Colossians 1:9-10 for Mike. That portion of Scripture says, “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,” (NIV).
I pray it like this:
“Lord, help Mike know and understand your will. Give him all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that he can walk in ways that are pleasing to you. Help him bear your good fruit in all he does and grow in His knowledge of you.”
Your prayers, too, are powerful and effective, but be prepared. Before you begin to notice changes in your husband, you’ll most certainly see changes in yourself. You’ll become more patient and even begin to feel less annoyed by those personality quirks that used to drive you nuts. Allow the Lord to mold and shape you and as you strengthen your discipline of prayer you’ll experience joys and blessings that you never imagined.
You’ll also continue to experience hardship. Just because we draw close to God doesn’t mean that He makes our path simple and easy. He desires that we lean on Him through both the easy and challenging parts of life. So don’t grow weary of doing good. Set your mind to pray, then do it—no matter what. Don’t give up.
I’m praying for you as you deepen your prayer walk, asking that the Lord gives you perseverance and that you won’t grow weary of doing good.
If this post, and this blog series, has encouraged you, please share it on social media to encourage others!
An exciting journey awaits when we deepen our understanding of who we are in Christ. Let’s face it, we spend too much time using unkind words toward ourselves, name-calling, and tearing ourselves down from the inside. We believe we're incapable, unworthy, unloved, and...
What’s on your mind? If we could sit down over coffee, would you answer this question honestly? Or would you show me your happy face? You know, the one we often bring out in public to make it look like everything is okay. I’d truly love to know what...
If you’re married, you’re going to make relational mistakes. You’ll say the wrong thing. Maybe you’ll sigh at the wrong time, or hold your eyebrows in the wrong expression, or worse. However it comes about, there is 100% certainty that you’ll disappoint your spouse....