When Toxic Thoughts Take Over

I am not typically your jump out of bed greet the morning with a smile kind of person. I am what you might call a slow wake put my feet on the ground get my tea first or else be cranky individual. I’ve tried all sorts of things to turn into a morning person but my hard wiring is fundamentally not to be fresh in the morning. Having children however forced me to work on being a morning person. I just had to get up earlier than they did in order to be somewhat cognitive and pleasant.

Because I am not a morning person, it is life or death for me to organize my thoughts in the right direction. It sets the tone for the day and my relationships. If I am worried or stressed without surrendering those leftover thoughts from the day before it becomes catastrophic for the remainder of the new day and those I bump into. I can exercise a bit of self-control but I still leak unless I am intentional about dwelling on what is in my brain space.

Lately, I have been working on those leftover toxic thoughts that have unconsciously taken over certain parts of my life. Dr. Caroline Leaf, author of Who Switched Off My Brain says this, Whatever you think about grows. Don’t focus on what you are going through but what you are going to. I’ve been relearning a common truth that if I keep dwelling on toxic thoughts they will grow and then those thoughts grow into habits and habits grow into toxic words and behaviors.

So what do we do when toxic thoughts takeover?

There is a reason that book of Romans says, …but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. In the front end of Romans 12:2 the writer says to not conform to the patterns of this world. In other words, to think like everyone else is thinking, to change the way we think by renewing our thoughts. Renewing has the implication of changing from something from the inside out as John Piper says in his writings on The Renewed Mind and How to Have It.

Resisting those leftover thoughts and then making a conscious out loud decision to do something with those nagging critters is the solution.

Surrender them to Jesus.

Give them up, write them down and tear it up.

Each time they threaten to sneak under the door of your mind, have a plan of what you will do to not chew on those leftover thoughts. Really, leftovers are only good for a little while then you eventually have to throw them out!

If you and I aren’t intentional about this every single day, toxic thoughts can…

BLOCK OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD – the further I move away from surrendering my thoughts to God the farther I stay away from God believing the lie that He can’t or won’t be able to help me.

ROB OUR JOY – the toxicity can block our perspective of seeing even the little things in life that can make us smile.

POISON RELATIONSHIPS – no matter how hard we try and keep it in, that poison from toxic thoughts can leak into small barbs or unkindness to those around us.

KILL PRODUCTIVITY – allowing those toxic thoughts to continue growing eventually blocks our creativity. I know for me, it has paralyzed me from moving forward.

DIMINISHES OUR INFLUENCE – our influence is our greatest asset and when toxic thoughts reign over our life we limit our ability to positively influence others.

CAUSE DESPAIR TO REIGN – continuing to think and obsess over situations that we can’t control or ones that we have a measure of controlling destroys our trust in God. The enemy sneaks in with his secret weapons…disappointment, discouragement and despair to rule over our minds.

All of the above I have experienced when I’ve chewed and chewed on my leftover toxic thoughts. It’s a habit that I want to break and I am praying that God helps me to continue to change from the inside out. I have allowed pain and wounds to paralyze me to the point of developing unhealthy thinking patterns and I am so done! I won’t lie to you, it hasn’t been easy to re-wallpaper my mind with God’s truth. I’ve created some pretty strong ruts in my thinking. But there is too much at stake not just for each of us but for those lives we influence to get stuck in toxicity of the mind.

Will you join me? God so wants us to flourish in every area of our life like a tree growing with bountiful fruit. He wants to embed his truth both in our heart and our minds. Let’s make a strategic plan to make sure we reclaim this ground in our mind for good!

 

 

 

 

When Mother’s Day Hurts

I let go of my expectations of Mother’s Day a long time ago.

That’s not to say I never had any, I did and lots of them. There was a small wrinkle in our life that never seemed to iron itself out. Mother’s Day is always on a Sunday and that is a full-on working day for my husband. When I said I do, I married a man who had committed his life to working on Sundays forever with The Bride of Christ, the church.

He is a pastor and when our children were younger we were involved in a dynamic large church. Bless his heart, he tried really hard to meet my unspoken and of course out-loud expectations, but year after year it just didn’t really work out. One year I remember that he had put our teenage son Jeremy, in charge of finishing up the meal for us after church. It turned out pretty well until we sat around the table and saw that we were missing one of our kids. Kevin had accidentally forgot to bring our middle son home. I thought he was bringing Jordan home that day but apparently we miscommunicated. It happens when you are a two car go-to-church family. It wouldn’t be the last time that one of us thought we had all the kids. I finally decided that it was okay and I knew that I was loved and celebrated other days of the year.

I’ve been reading some really good blogs this past week on this very topic about Mother’s Day and expectations and I’ve come to a conclusion.

Sometimes Mother’s Day doesn’t work out the way it is advertised incessantly in the media of seeing every store lined with flowers, chocolate and the perfect gift to get Mom.

Hallmark kind of commercials and happy faces don’t always materialize on that day.

Sometimes, Mother’s Day just plain hurts.

I have women in my world who wish they could be mothers and aren’t. I have friends who have lost their mothers to heaven too young and others who have watched their Mom wither away in a nursing home helpless to ease those last days. I have friends whose mother’s just don’t get them and they long for approval and acceptance. I know of women who stay home from church on that day because it doesn’t seem to address all women and the vast delicate emotions that can haunt the day.

It hurts. It’s painful. It’s not a picture perfect day.

What do we do then when Mother’s Day hurts? Let’s keep it as upbeat as we can for those who actually enjoy the day and the rest of us can just tough it out for the day. NOT!! When I was younger and not very wise, I had that very opinion, why does it have to be so hard for everyone? After all, good grief, it’s only one day!

The key word in that sentence is “grief.” Mother’s Day can bring grief, incalculable grief for many. Unmet expectations and scratching off scabs that we just try to let go and forget the other 364 days of the year.

The truth is, it can feel absolutely crushing for some and others it brings great joy and elation. What do we do then?

This is a blog and of course it is my opinion, but I think the answer is simply this…

Let’s give room to all women to be who they are on that day.

Let’s each decide how to either celebrate or grieve and give a wide-open space and abundant grace to each other.

Let’s pray for the women in our world who struggle and not add to their pain by placing our own judgments and expectations.

Let’s not add to the message that gets shouted at us by commercialism and try to put all women in that narrow box.

Let it be and let’s choose to celebrate all women as they are and wherever they might find themselves in the present.

To all my sisters who find this day beyond difficult, I pray your heart will be comforted by the great comforter, the Holy Spirit and you would know that,

The Lord is close to the broken hearted and rescues those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18