I have mentioned in the past how much I love movies. It is one of my favorite ways to relax. My daughter Leah and I recently watched the “Harry Potter” series. Last night as we were watching the “Order of the Phoenix,” there were great spiritual truths being given by Severus Snape. He is trying to help Harry to concentrate and focus his mind so that the dark Lord can’t get inside his head. Snape says, “Every memory you have he can use against you. Discipline your mind!” As I am sitting there watching and hearing this, I realize that this is great scriptural wisdom for us. I think our minds can be our biggest enemy. Our thoughts can control us. So, giant #4 is “The Mind.”
I have to tell you that I have had some great spiritual moments with movies. Because I am a visual person, it really helps me understand things better. I think this giant is the one that really gets to me. One of my biggest fears has been that I will lose my mind and go crazy. Watching a sibling struggle with mental illness for years and then take his life over it, has messed with my mind a lot! I have often wondered if I am going to end up the same way. When I am rational, I know that is not going to happen to me, but I have had my moments.
Watching someone you love struggle with mental illness, is not fun! You feel so helpless and there really isn’t a lot you can do. You can love them, support them, get them the help that they need and of course pray for them. I think watching David struggle with severe OCD has deeply affected me. His sickness woke the giant of fear inside me and I have been battling it ever since he committed suicide twenty years ago this month. So, if you will indulge me, I would like to talk about this issue, and hopefully help someone else out there who has struggled with wrong thinking or you love someone who struggles with it. I would like to pay tribute to my brother by enlightening and helping you. He would want that!
One of the first verses that I would like to share is 2 Corinthians 10:5. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” There is a battle going on in our thought lives. I know first hand that my brother battled it and so do I. I have been in a wrestling match with evil thoughts. And by evil, I mean anything that is against God and His principles. I have realized recently that I have allowed some thoughts to get into my mind that are causing me great anxiety. I get so out of balance sometimes and I just need to stop and renew my mind with God’s word. I need to stop and look at His character. I just need to stop and be with Him and listen to Him.
Priscilla Shirer has a study called the Armor of God which I highly recommend. She states, “Your real enemy—the devil—wants you to ignore the spiritual reality behind the physical one. Because as long as you’re focused on what you can see with your physical eyes, he can continue to run rampant underneath the surface. The more you disregard him, the more damage he is free to do. The enemy may be invisible, but he is not fictional. He is very real, and very persistent, waging war against us constantly.”
Whenever, I get out of sorts and my anxiety kicks into full gear, I get so caught up in the emotional aspects, that I simply can’t think straight. My mind is so full of fear that my knowledge of God and His word goes out the window. Satan knows that. He knows how to get to me. I have to be aware of what he is doing to me and fight back. Sometimes, it takes me awhile to use the armor that God has given me. But, what I want to emphasize to you is the fact that I need to be more aware of what is going on and realize that God is bigger and greater than anything I am facing. I have to immerse myself in His word and take every thought to the feet of Jesus and ask for help.
Priscilla says, “Being a believer doesn’t give you immunity from the assaults of the enemy, but it does give you access to the power of the Father—His power to defend you as well as reverse what’s been done to you. If you want to win the fight—if you want to join me in flipping the script, pinning down the enemy, and crippling his impact in your life—the key is realizing you’re connected to more spiritual brawn than is coming against you.” Satan has had me doubting that God is bigger than my issues for way too long. Because my abuse started when I was a little girl and my Dad was a lot bigger than me, my view of God was so distorted. Because of what happened to me, it caused me to make God a lot smaller than He truly was. Does that make sense? It has taken me years to realize the spiritual brawn God has. I have to go to scripture and look for the verses that state how strong God is. He is so much bigger than I give Him credit for.
Because my view of God was diminished growing up, I believed lies about myself and about Him. My brain was trained to think that my problems and issues were so much bigger than God could handle. My brain was trained to not ask for help because I thought I was alone in this fight. I believed so many lies that were ingrained in me and I wasn’t aware of most of them. I watched a mentally ill brother become sicker and sicker and frankly it scared the crap out of me! So, add that to all my other issues and I became an emotional wreck. Satan had me where he wanted me. I was completely in a pit.
I have had to work hard at getting out of that pit and I have fallen back into it at times too. There have been days I just want to hide from the world especially when I am weary. I have to remember that I am in a battle and God will give me what I need to fight it. Priscilla has so much wisdom to share when it comes to fighting Satan. She tells us that taking our thoughts captive is a ongoing action. “So we must understand that being successful at this endeavor will be a lifestyle, not a one time event. Taking thoughts captive means controlling them instead of allowing them to control you. It means actively replacing the enemy’s thinking with God’s thinking at every opportunity. Resist the urge to agree with or rehearse the negative thought. Instead replace it—repeatedly, diligently, and verbally—until eventually that brick in our stronghold comes tumbling down.”
It has been twenty years since David died. He died in July of 1997. David struggled so much with his identity in Christ. He wasn’t able to comprehend the great love Christ had for him. He struggled so much in his thought life and it was hard to watch. I am writing on his behalf because I know from first hand experience how Satan can destroy our minds with his lies. l also know that he has been after my mind for as long as I can remember. It has been a battle, but I know that the Lord has given me His word to fight it. I need to rely on His word and stay focused on Him.
Priscilla tells us that there has actually been medical research done on how our toxic thinking can affect our overall well-being and how submitting our thinking patterns to Christ can have an amazing impact. Dr. Caroline Leaf says, “Our thoughts occupy mental real estate. Thoughts are active; they grow and change….Every time you have a thought, it is actively changing your brain and your body—for better or for worse.” This makes complete sense to me. Since my childhood was a war zone, my thought life started off on the wrong foot. I really didn’t realize how toxic it was until David got sick and my panic attacks started. I have to fight for truth in my life with God’s word. It is the only thing I have that will help me and heal me.
Dr. Leaf also says, “When we control our thought life, new neural connections and pathways are visibly and measurably formed in the brain—which affects the health and wellness of our physical bodies. In other words, when we ‘take our thoughts captive,’ we are quite literally renewing and restoring our minds from a state of unhealthiness and deterioration to a state of wholeness and strength in God. Tapping into our spiritual benefits package not only keeps us from falling prey to the enemy’s deception, but also restores previous damage that’s been done. When we apply our spiritual inheritance diligently and proactively, we literally change our minds—renewing and rewiring them through God’s Word.” Oh what a glorious hope this gives me! God’s word is living, active, and sharper than a two-edged sword!
This post is a lot longer than I normally write, but I feel like this is so important in our lives. My poor brain has hope for change! I want to kick Satan’s butt and change the way I think. God’s word is the answer. We have hope because of Him! Thank you God! Now, let’s go get that evil one and kick him out of our lives!!! Until next time……
“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:2-3