Taking Thoughts Captive
Feelings have driven my mind. They are like a current in the ocean. As soon as I dip my toes in, I’m taken by the strength of the water and rushed down an uncontrollable path – a path that I didn’t necessarily want to be on, but a path that I didn’t know how not to be on. I was a slave to what I felt.
Let me clarify something before we move on:
Feelings are not wrong.
Jesus, the beautiful example of a perfect life, felt things.
But being dominated by feelings is an incredibly scary and destructive place to be.
Not understanding how to take control of my mind and emotions nearly killed me. The biggest current I rode was the current of hopelessness.
When things wouldn’t go the way I had envisioned, I would slowly dip my toe into those dangerous waters.
“Is this the way it will always be? Is it possible for me to find joy now?”
As I wallowed in these thoughts, I would begin to wade even deeper.
“Is there any hope? What am I doing wrong?”
That simple wading would carry my mind into its vicious cycle of little escape. My mind would swarm out of my control into places of worthlessness and bitterness, until eventually it hit rock bottom.
“Why am I here? What’s the point of living?”
How do we stop that? How do we stop this life threatening cycle our minds so naturally run towards?
I don’t have a black and white answer. I don’t have the potion of deliverance from this struggle. Even in my growth, I still battle this daily. But here are a few things that helped me and continue to help me navigate through this war ground.
Learn how to identify dangerous emotions.
The scariest thing about your mind is that it can be killing you without you even being aware. A lot of times, I don’t see where my mind has taken me until it seems too late. Sometimes it takes a really dramatic screw up for me to finally see how bad it was. Learning your habits and red flags in those times is HUGE. Identifying your enemy is half of the battle.
Give yourself a time out.
I am awful at reacting. Reacting, for me, usually means lashing out in an emotion I will later regret. My therapist taught me how to take an off ramp. When my mind starts going down the highway of negative thoughts, the speed increases with the distance. I learned what my off ramps could be – stopping what I am doing and going outside for a walk, watching an episode of Gilmore Girls, or going long boarding with Jake. These things don’t fix the issue. They don’t fix your mind. But it helps you to pull over and give your mind a break before jumping back in. Slowing down your reactions is lifesaving (not to mention relationship saving).
Realize that you’re desperate.
You can suppress these feelings, but they will without a doubt return. It will continue to be a struggle. Know that you are absolutely hopeless without the power of God intervening in your healing. God is close to the broken hearted. Weakness is your advantage here. Be weak and seek the Lord for help.
Be constant in prayer.
The verse 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is my lifeboat. It is my escape. “Pray without ceasing,” it says. When you are caught in these currents, CRY out to the Lord. Beg God to reach in and bring you out. To remind you of truth. To stabilize your mind.
Sometimes when I have tempting thoughts that I can’t seem to pull away from, I start quoting every scripture I possibly can. (This is where growing up in Sunday School helps..ha) I quote them back to back to back without pause. The Word is POWERFUL. Satan can’t stand against that. Your mind can’t stand against that.
Growing in our walks with the Lord by taking our thoughts captive. That’s the goal, y’all.
Growth. Not perfection.
It’s a journey. Give yourself grace when you fall. Just last night I fell captive towards my thoughts. It’s a struggle. Such a struggle.
We’ll never be perfect. But be determined to never stop fighting for growth.
You’re worth it.