One of the most important things that I learned that has transformed my spiritual and emotional life has been to “take every thought captive” for Christ.
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. (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)
I learned it from my online spiritual mentor, the Peaceful Wife blog. 🙂 She doesn’t know she is my mentor, but her blog has helped me so much in the past few years! Here’s the blog entry where she talks about how to take captive every thought. It’s an excellent tutorial. It’s such a simple idea that she explains that she teaches her children to do it. I’ve been a Christian for so long, but I never heard about this, and consequently, I struggled to overcome habitual sinful thoughts on my own without much success before.
Our thoughts are the origin of our emotions–>behavior. As modern cognitive behavioral therapy (most behavioral health counseling is based on this) has shown, if we change our thoughts, we can change our feelings and our behavior.
Let me go through an example…something that I still struggle with at times.
First step: Identify my thoughts (clue is my feelings at that time.)
I often feel very insecure and unloved, due to false thinking and past experiences. So I often ask my husband, “Do you love me”? I look for ways that he proves his love for me such as talking and spending time together on date nights, etc–which is my love language. If I don’t find any “evidence”, I think to myself: “He doesn’t love me; he doesn’t care.” Of course it’s not rational, but it’s a sinful tape that runs through my mind. (My husband is actually very romantic and loving!)
Second Step: Counter my thoughts with God’s Word/Truth
I look through the Bible to find truths that I can use to counter my thoughts:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)
5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance. (Psalm 16:5-7, NIV)
Can the mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! (Isaiah 49:15 NIV)
His Word reminds me to lean into His love and be secure in Jesus’s love alone. Jesus proved His love for me by dying on the cross, once and for all.
Overall, I need to be responsible for my own security in Christ, and not look for emotional security and boosts from my husband. It’s unfair and tiring for him to reassure me all the time.
Third Step: Counter my thoughts with Real Life Truth
The characteristic of negative harmful thoughts are that they are very black and white: “No one loves me!”, “I am worthless”, “I will always be insecure.” But the real life truth is not black and white. Some people may not love me, but there are quite a few that do love me. I am not worthless, and I have innate worth as God’s creation, no matter what I do. I will not always be insecure–I am drastically different from how I was 10 years ago. So the third step is to moderate our thoughts with the real life truth. Maybe I also need to examine whether I am hormonal, tired, hungry, bored, and whether that is making me feel emotionally needy. I also need to remind myself of my husband’s loving acts in the past that absolutely prove his love for me.
As I go through these steps, I slowly change my ingrained negative and often sinful thoughts, and transform my mind with God’s truths. Sometimes I have to repeat a pertinent verse whenever I am tempted to think in a old negative pattern. But slowly, there is progress and peace in my thought life and heart, as well as much healthier relationships.