Stop the Roller Coaster (Living beyond the daily grind)
Susan sat watching the sun go down quite unaware of the chill in the air. She was lost in her thoughts. She had been unable to think of anything for weeks now. Since she learned she was adopted it seemed she couldn’t think of anything but questions she had no answers for and none seemed available. She wondered what her real parents looked like? Who did she favor, her mother or father? Why had they chosen to give her away at birth? She loved her parents, the only parents she had ever known. They were good people, and had given her nothing but love and attention. She knew she should be thankful for the home she had and there was nothing to be gained from this idle speculation – still!
Mike sat on the park bench with tears barely hidden beneath the surface as he watched a man tossing a football back and forth with a boy his age. What would it be like to have a dad? He thought to himself how different things would be if he had a father at home, a man who would understand him and who would do things with him. He drifted from anger directed toward his dad for dying and anger at God for allowing his dad to die. He believed, and he had prayed so hard that night at the hospital, but still his dad had died. It didn’t seem fair, and now he was all alone in the world. He knew his mother tried to fill both rolls. His dad had left enough money so they weren’t in any real trouble in that department — still!
Sherrie looked at the clock for the hundredth time in the last five minutes. Mom was overdue and she knew she would burst through the door any moment now. She ran over the task list she had found in its usual place on the refrigerator when she came in from school. She couldn’t think of anything she had not done, but she was sure mom would find something and that what she had done would be wrong. It seemed as if it were impossible to please her mom anymore. She so seldom spoke without it being a complaint or to bark an order. She couldn’t remember the last time her mom had just hugged her and said I love you. If only mom didn’t have to work maybe she would be in a better mood. If dad showed her more attention instead of working over or always being gone doing an odd job for someone else, or at the church or wherever except home. He had his way out, Sherrie felt trapped, surely God didn’t really want her to live like this. She counted the days until she got out of school and start her own life. Her thoughts were shattered with the front door slamming shut. Mom was home – here we go again! The what if tape began to play in her mind again even as she thought how blessed she really was, she had both parents, a home, clothes, and the list went on — still!
There is a saying that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Perhaps you have watched a farm animal go to great lengths and through all sorts of contortions to eat through a barbed wire fence when the grass was just as deep and pretty on the pasture side of the fence. While all these examples have at least some reason for the if only or what if mind games people seem so prone to play, it is just as true almost everyone fails to see the blessings in their own life and plays these same games.
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.” (Philippians 4:10-14 NKJV)
Question: How do we overcome negative thoughts and obsessions with things like those in these stories, or situations we can’t change?
Obviously we give it to Christ, but that seems to be a silly answer when it hurts so much. How do we go about this? What can I actually do that will help me? What can I do for a friend who is going through something like this and constantly beating up on themselves?
If we would pay attention we would see that God doesn’t promise us a magic show and all these things just drop into our laps out of the sky. This is why Paul said in this verse, “I have learned in whatever state I am to be content” God gives us the ability, the power, we must do something with it.
1. Take a timer and set it for 30 minutes. When the timer goes off write down the thought that was on top at that very second, don’t think about it write down the first thing you can when the timer sounds. Reset the timer and do the same thing again. Repeat this process until you have at least twelve entries. This may take a few days if you can’t be alone with a timer for long periods of time. Others being aware and interfering will hinder or ruin the process.
A. Look at this list and count how many are really the same thought?
B. How many are negative, what if, if only, poor me type thoughts?
C. How many are very general thoughts, such as no one cares, everybody does?
D. The devil will play mind games with you and like a broken record keep putting the same bad or negative thoughts into your head. He will use general terms that have no real handle so you can see the lie. For example everyone instead of John hates you.
This is how we recognize these as evil or wrong thoughts. They are constantly the same or a variation on a common theme, always negative, and general enough they can’t be checked out easily. In the pattern we recognize the enemy and know we need to be on our spiritual guard, for we have entered the realm of the mind and spirit, not reality.
We combat this then with spiritual weapons. The first thing we need to do is take this list and sit down with the Bible and find the verse where God has taken care of this problem for us, claim that promise. Study the Bible, I promise you there is a verse just for you and God will use the Holy Spirit to show you the answer, but you have to do your part, study the Bible. When we know it is a lie, and God has taken care of this exact thing, the broken record stops spinning and we regain composure and perspective. We can deal with life.
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