Just hearing (or seeing for that matter) the word “anxiety” gives me a sense of dread and uneasiness. My anxiety creeps up on me without fail at night when I climb into bed. It’s like I turn off the world and in its place my mind whirls around about 100 mph. I begin to reflect on the day, think about tomorrow, what I may have forgotten, conversations I have had that day . . .the list goes on and on. It’s like my mind is working overtime to cycle through life and fixate on that ONE thing that will eat away at me and overwhelm me with anxiety or fear so that sleep will not come. And not only that, it seems to me that at night all my feelings become amplified. Things that would not typically be a big deal, become boulders in my mind.
Lately, I have been doing a lot of self reflection on taking captive my thoughts. As I am working through this, I have realized it is super difficult. I know the remedy to deflect these thoughts, but I struggle to allow God to take control. I need to retrain my brain. I believe the key to overcoming my own fears and anxieties lie in this verse:
Philippians 4:8 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.”
The Bible is our manual for life! If I were to work toward redirecting my thoughts to these things, it would replace my fear and anxiety with peace, hope and faith.
My problem is simple. I want instant gratification! I want Him to help me take captive my thoughts in a moment and that isn’t reality. It becomes this vicious cycle of: I think a yucky thought, I try to get it out of my mind, before I even know it, it’s crept back in! I can’t get to sleep, I can’t resolve it and I’m just stuck in this revolving door of yuck! So, I speak to you from the position of a woman who knows the right thing to do when this occurs, but struggles to follow the advice our Father in heaven gives us. And then, I get frustrated when in that moment, I can’t overcome it! Grrr! When I was a little girl, I loved Disney movies. In Alice In Wonderland, Alice makes the comment,
“I often give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”
This is exactly how I feel! I need to think of retraining of my brain as a race, more specifically – a marathon! I need to train for this. I wouldn’t expect to wake up on a random Saturday morning and run a marathon. If I wanted to do that, I would need to train every day and build up the stamina. I would need to eat healthy, and work on being mentally prepared to conquer this task. Our walk as a Christian is the same as a race according to God. His word says for us to run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
My 20 year old daughter, Emily, is a long distance runner. She is amazing to watch. In the beginning of her running career, she just wanted to finish in the top of the pack, but after years of running, she now aspires to be an athlete that is an All American (a top runner in the nation-and she is well on her way). She is the most dedicated person I know when it comes to running (and in life really-she is truly turning into the most amazing Godly woman). But this has not come easy for her. Emily trains EVERY day! She runs miles upon miles. She CHOOSES to run UP HILLS and during the HOTTEST parts of the day to increase her endurance. When we go out and she sees a hill (one that I think looks like something I would prefer to run AWAY from) she mentions how much she would love to train on that hill. Her mindset has changed. But this did not happen overnight. She has taken captive all areas of her life that would affect her running. She eats well, mentally prepares, trains everyday, and pushes herself to do a little more than is necessary to become the runner she envisions herself to be.
What if we sprinkled, or better yet, saturated Jesus and His word into all areas of our lives? What if we truly followed Philippians 4:8 (mentioned above) and persevered through like a runner training for a marathon? Wouldn’t we see God’s hand help us to take captive our thoughts that lead to anxiety and fear? Wouldn’t we see amazing transformations that only God could take credit for? It definitely won’t happen overnight. We need to train for this! Are you willing to lace up your running shoes?? (And for me…since I’m getting older, I would also need my knee brace!!) When prepped, and with my eyes fixed on God, only then can I be ready for Him to lead me, guide me, and take captive my anxious thoughts and replace them with whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable!
I had my daughter, Grace (who is a wonderful artist) create a visual reminder of how to take captive my thoughts. It is in my bedroom and is a constant reminder for me for where I should allow my thoughts to linger.