God still speaks
The last couple of days, all those negative thoughts and feelings that I have been trying so hard to change, have been lambasting my mind and emotions, like a tsunami hitting the coastline. And I keep wondering why. Why is a very dangerous question sometimes, because it makes you look for answers that just aren’t there. People across the globe suffer from anxiety – in fact, according to my post yesterday (courtesy of Discovery Health), one in 75 people suffer from a panic disorder. That is extremely high. I mean think about it – in my office of 150 people, that means there is at least one other person here, in this building, who battles with this as I do. That is so comforting to me – to know I am not alone. And in a high school (when most panic and anxiety disorders start) of about 1 000 scholars, at least 14 pupils will battle with this issue and take it with them into adulthood.
Well, very simply, I think that our society is moving just too fast. There is too much knowledge, too much media attention, too many ways to do things – we have forgotten and our young kids have not even learnt how to just be.
Anyway, I digress, because God still speaks.
So this morning I am feeling so frustrated because surely I should be past all this, I have worked so hard and still this negativity is hounding me and I am thinking of going of Paxil, but after how I have been feeling the last couple of days, clearly this isn’t a good idea…
…then I get this reading…
When You Feel Down (1)
‘…We will stand in Your presence…cry out to You…and You will hear us and save us.’ 2 Chronicles 20:9 NIV
|A parishioner asked his pastor, ‘Do you ever feel down?’ ‘Sure,’ he responded. ‘What do you do about it?’ the parishioner said. ‘I get up again. Being down isn’t my problem – staying down is. I’m either up, or I’m getting up. I’ve learned not to park in between.’ Although feeling down is universal, sociologists warn us to guard against its two most common causes: fear and fatigue. Let’s look at them:Fear: When Edomite armies marched against Israel’s king, fear gripped him and his nation. Feeling powerless, they feared losing their God-given land and possessions. If the stress of the last few years has left you feeling fearful, do what Judah’s king did. He turned to God and prayed: ‘Whenever we are faced with any calamity…we can…stand in Your presence…We can cry out to You…and You will hear us and rescue us.’ (2 Chronicles 20:9 NLT) Don’t let fear cause you to abandon your hope and your vision. Instead, stand in God’s presence, cry out to Him and watch Him rescue you. Throughout the Old Testament, God reminded His people of His track record of goodness. He wanted them to remember it and take courage. But sometimes fear would cloud their memory and they’d begin to doubt. Sound familiar? So He told them, ‘Do not be…discouraged…the battle is not yours, but [Mine].’ (2 Chronicles 20:15 NIV) In other words, ‘You don’t have to defeat the foe, that’s My job. I’m in charge; trust Me to work it out.’ So remember Who’s in control of your circumstances today. Stand in His presence, believe His promise!|
I mean, wow. When the stress of the last few years has left you feeling fearful… Um, yeah… Don’t let fear cause you to abandon your hope and your vision. Okay, Lord, I hear you. But sometimes fear would cloud their memory and they’d begin to doubt… Yeah, that sounds about right – especially over the last few days. The battle is not yours, but [Mine].’ (2 Chronicles 20:15 NIV) Okay, Lord, this is in your hands.
2 Chronicles 20:15
15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.
And now I am feeling much better – we can’t forget where our grace and strength comes from. And my only goal in this world is to be a good wife to my husband and a good mother to my daughter – and I pray for the grace and the strength to do just that.
The thing about thinking positive is that it has to be an active choice. You can’t just passively sit by, try to not allow negative thoughts and feelings to invade your space. You need to counteract each negative thought and feeling with actively thinking something positive. While you may stop eating junk food, you have to actually physically get off your butt and start exercising in order to get fit. One is passive – you’re just stopping doing something. But how long with that last if you don’t proactively fill that void with something else? If you want to quit smoking, you actually can’t just stop. You need to fill that void that quitting makes with something else. Many people, for example, start exercising when they quit smoking. And are then quite successful in never smoking again.
There is a passage of scripture that speaks about casting out a demon and if you don’t fill that void with something else, seven times more demons will come back.
Hang on, going to Google it quickly.
43 “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. 44 “Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 “Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.”
And so it is with negative thinking. You need to get rid of negative thinking and negative emotions, but you also need to fill that void with something positive – if you’re not going to fill the void that getting rid of negative thinking and emotions create, you will just find yourself with even more negativity that in time will be more difficult to get rid of. Seven times more difficult if this passage of scripture is anything to go by. So start proactively getting your mind and your emotions fit. But actively and proactively thinking and feeling positive thoughts and emotions.
What works for me – and you will have to find what will work for you – is I have positive conversations with myself. I am always talking to myself, so I might as well make it work for me.
A negative thought flits into my head – I won’t eat, I’m sick, I’m going to die (believe it or not, I used to wake up with such fear and anxiety with these three thoughts running around in my head). Instead of just trying to get that negative thought out of your head – try to focus on the opposite and positive. Of course I’ll eat – I eat every day at every mealtime without any problems (see how I’m backing up this positive thought with everyday evidence that supports that), and I am not sick. I don’t feel sick and there is nothing wrong with me. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I saw a doctor or actually needed to see a doctor. And yes, I am going to die one day. But today is not that day. And even if it is today, I’m sure of my salvation so there is really nothing to worry about. Then take a deep breath and force (or allow) yourself to feel relief and something positive. Then distract yourself and go on with your day.
You need to be conscious every time a negative thought or feeling comes into your mind – so that you can actively and proactively react with something positive, based on truth and based on faith.
But it will take time. I have been negative for the last 40 years, allowing myself to be lured into the fantasies of negative thinking – I loved the drama it created within me . Sometimes my fantasies or thoughts would be so negative, I would find myself crying in the car on the way home. For heaven’s sake, no wonder I battle with anxiety. Because you see, those emotions I created with negative thinking and fantasizing have to go somewhere – they don’t just evaporate. It is energy being created, and well, it is coming out now. So, this not something that is going to change overnight. But, I figure I have the next 40 years to try to get it right.
Rather than thinking or fantasizing about a car accident, and having my entire family killed, and be drawn into the allure of this fantasy, think about all of us having a picnic together and having fun and enjoying ourselves and each other. The positive feelings associate with the picnic fantasy will go along well to emotional health and wellness and should the event arise – a picnic in the park – you will enjoy it so much more.
The Two Posters
On the second poster, on the right, it says in bright, beautiful colours:
Love, peace, patience, friendship, romance, truth, righteousness, purity, loveliness, faith, admiration…
What do you think will fill your heart and mind if you stare at the poster on the left?
What do you think will fill your heart and mind if you stare at the poster on the right?
For far too long, I have been staring at the poster on the left. I have been filling my heart, my thoughts, my mind with so much negativity by just focusing on all these negatives – fearing the fact that I may be feeling a little anxious, fearing another panic attack, fearing that I am living the wrong life, fearing that I’m not going to eat, that I am going to get sick and die, hiding in shame at the weight I’ve gained and am battling to lose, hiding in shame with my parent’s divorce, feeling overwhelmed by lack of sleep, a stressful job and major financial issues…
No wonder I have been feeling so anxious, with a constant tension of something being wrong, just waiting for that boulder to come down the hill and hit me, or the bus to crash.
If I keep putting so much stress and negativity into everything I say, do, think and feel – then I can quite honestly only expect anxiety, panic attacks, and lots of negativity.
I think it is about time I step away from the poster on the left, take a side step, and start focusing on the poster on the right.
Let me think about all the love in my life and how incredibly blessed I am to have a husband and daughter who love me so much. Or focusing my energies on feeling peace and love. Or injecting some romance into my marriage. Or having some faith that perhaps I am exactly where God wants me to be. Or a little faith that everything will work out just as its meant to in the end, I mean, doesn’t God tell us:
Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
And doesn’t He tell us to think properly?
Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.
I think it is with good reason that the good Lord above has told us to watch our thoughts and our thinking patterns.
As Joyce Meyer says, “You cannot have a positive life thinking negative thoughts.”
Easier said than done – I think we are all prone to be drawn towards the negative. The negative somehow gives us a skewed meaning of life, but makes life feel more real. That is such a lie – I’m just sorry I’m only realising that now as I head into my 40’s. I suppose better late than never…