What we do about negative thoughts (either depressed, or anxious) is a choice that changes our moment, our day, our month – our life. It changes our relationship with God, and people, in profound ways. We can simply believe the negative thought, and live accordingly, or we can acknowledge it, and weigh it against situational truths, and the power of God Almighty. Negative actions come from negative thought processes that are not squashed as a choice of faith. If left unchecked, they become pervasive in our expressions of life.
Ge 6:5-6 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. NKJV
There is actually a lot to learn about our negative thought processes. I took a class on stress recently from Northeastern Seminary, and they discussed the phenomenon of Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANT). Did you know that a normal person’s thoughts are around 90% negative?!? I did not. As well, 85% are repetitive, and of those repetitive thoughts, 90% are negative. We are in a battle, folks! As an introvert, I keep a lot of stuff going inside my head, so this is really good for me to remember. Just because we think it, that doesn’t make it so!
Pastor Mia Richardson of Avon United Methodist Church in Avon, NY, (a class mate of mine) says fighting these thoughts with scripture is using “ANT Spray” against the problem. I love her analogy! Particularly, we discussed using verses from Philippians chapter 4 as a method of identifying and fighting negative thoughts, especially the untrue thoughts (waaaaaay more than you realize). I thought this was great, and am using the “ANT Spray” idea on myself regularly.
So, what does Philippians say about truth, our thought lives, and Paul’s own struggles?
Php 3:12-14 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. NKJV
Php 4:8-9 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. NKJV
First, we must ask ourselves if it is really, physically, true, or if we are making it up, or being harsh. True problems need to be dealt with, but the recent study I looked at shows the vast majority of negative thoughts simply are not true. They may be a reaction to some truth, but the thoughts themselves are not correct.
Then, we make a choice to “change the channel” of our thought lives, just like we change our mind about a movie we’re watching. We choose to move to a “noble” reaction or thought, to consider a “just” reaction or thought, or to believe there are things in this life that are pure, and lovely. We choose to turn our thoughts in those directions, seeking a positive outcome to a real problem, or to replace a negative barrage of ideas.
We should look around for the blessings we’re taking for granted, like a place to live, or groceries, then move through a list of good things, maybe ending with God’s wonderous creation of US (Psalm 139) or Jesus Christ’s great love and sacrifice for us. If we are having a really bad day, let’s call a friend to “pray and spray” with. Let’s read God’s Word – bibles can make quick work of squashing ANTs.
Don’t give in to negative thoughts – claim your peace of mind! Get out the ANT Spray!
May 19, 2021