Last week, I wrote about my struggle with people-pleasing. And I’m still learning how to deal with this fear of man. (By waiting a week, I was hoping to be so much wiser!)
On my journey, I’m learning how much my thought life affects my everyday life. My thoughts aren’t as private as I think. Jesus was right, of course, when He taught that sin begins on the inside.
I know how critical and dark thoughts can be because I think them all too often. But when others think those thoughts about me, I am panic-stricken. Could I be the object of disdain rather than admiration or affection?
My negative thought patterns subtly place others as the wrong doers and me as the victim. (As if!)
How do I get out of this negative rut? Pep talks? Surrounding myself with positive friends? Hardly.
By asking God to redeem my thought life.
Notice I said “redeem” rather than “distract.” When I catch myself slipping into my “nobody loves me, everybody hates me” rut, I confess and surrender that thought. But rather than leave my mind as a gaping hole (which is impossible for women, by the way), I work to fill that hole with worthy thoughts and praise.
One day, I specifically asked God to help me take every thought captive. While dwelling on a wrong thought, I suddenly jabbed my hip into a doorknob (and Spanish doorknobs are sharp!). In pain, I managed to laugh and thank God for the not-so-gentle reminder. Other days, I, in essence, tell God to go away and leave me alone to think my negative thoughts.
Sometimes, we write off negativity as discernment. But they’re not the same. Negativity eats at your soul. Discernment can see and analyze the negative aspects of a situation without being controlled by them.
When your thought life is redeemed, you can be discerning without being negative. People may still sling unrealistic expectations at you or think mean things about you, but when you don’t dwell on it, it can’t control you.
See, whether or not someone means offense in a comment, you can leave it. You can walk away because when you do, that comment–whether intentional or unintentional–is between that person and God. When you take offense, suddenly the the relationship is much more complicated. Suddenly, the comment is between them and God, you and them, and you and God. And that takes a lot of clarification, repentance, and forgiveness.
But when you re-calibrate your focus– take it off of whoever you are allowing to control you, and place it on God– your world begins to bloom. You can hear advice without letting it dictate each decision. You can hear criticism without being in the depths of despair. You can love those who think little of you, even if their opinion never changes. And you can hear praise without feeling like it is watering the thirsty soil of your starving soul. Affirmation becomes a blessing rather than a necessity.
And you– I should say “we”– can be content in our identity in Christ rather than our identity in the eyes of others.