I talk a lot with people about the choices they make in life. Inevitably, talking about a person's choices means talking about a person's thinking. (As she thinks, so is she...) And this is usually how the conversation goes:
Pastor Suzie, I don't know what to do about "X."
OK. What would lead you to make that choice? Where is that coming from?
I don't know. But I'm just afraid I'll make the wrong choice and screw everything up.
Yes. But what are you thinking that makes you see things that way?
I'm thinking I'm...going to fail, I'm unworthy or unlovable, I'm about to get hurt, [you fill in the blank.]
There is a reason we quote 2 Corinthians 10:5 a lot. A verse in which Paul is defending his ministry, informing the church in Corinth that we, believers, are to take EVERY thought captive to Christ. This verse came alive for me years ago sitting at Schuler's bookstore cafe in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with my friend Colleen. It's actually one of my more vivid memories.
She said: "At any moment I can choose to begin thinking differently than I do right now."
Scha-zaam! I will never forget what she said or the way in which she said it. It was one sentence that connected so many of the dots in my life.
I have struggled with physical challenges, and depression, and hurts, and boundaries, and lost relationships, and searing grief, and infertility, and losing a job. You know, the usual. And being highly introspective—many times I would get stuck in my mental-hamster-wheel. (To be honest, a couple counselors have winsomely asked me mostly the same questions I now ask others.) But today, sitting from where I sit, knowing that I am created by a God who knows me intimately, that His Son, Jesus, paid a price so exorbitant to set me free from my self-addiction, I have been given a choice. Pursuing God on his terms (not the terms of others) and accepting His love always leads me into truth. Anything that is not of him is a lie. And as I grow on this long journey toward heaven, He will teach me how to choose healing and truth. He will show me how to begin thinking differently at any moment, to actually put on the mind of Christ.
That changes my thinking, over and over again. And changed thinking leads to changed choices.
It's not a miraculous, once-in-a-lifetime epiphany. Though, some of us, like I did, experience amazing ah-ha moments. It's a gradual revealing of the infinite love of our heavenly Father toward us, his Spirit filling us, his presence so gently shining the light into all of our brokenness. A soul-transforming love that begins to permeate our thoughts, dramatically influencing our choices, and healing us from the inside out.
"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23, NIV
What about you? Have you seen a clear link between your thinking and your choices? What is holding you back—or setting you free?