I just celebrated 4 years of being married to the most wonderful man in the world. As I reflected on my life around the weeks and months after our wedding, I was reminded of a very dark time in my life. I battled depression – good days and bad days, smiles and sadness. When I was in it, I blamed my circumstances. I had just started teaching and it was a grueling first year. Garrett and I were working out how to live together (aka I was realizing how incredibly selfish I really am). I was dealing with harsh memories of unresolved guilt and shame, and a huge part of me felt really alone. Where was God in all of that? Where could I meet Him? Why wasn’t He listening to my cries for help?
Looking back now I realized that bout of lowliness came not from my circumstances, but from my lack of preparation for those circumstances. Months, even years after that season, I started listening to the things I would repeat to myself and I was astounded at how ugly those words were. So negative, damaging, threatening, unhealthy, and incredibly subtle. Have you ever caught yourself listening to yourself? What do you say to yourselves when you’re all alone in your thoughts?
I simply didn’t understand the importance of disciplining my mind until I experienced the damage that unexercised self-talk can really do to a person. It was the classic proverbial frog in the kettle. The lies were so soft and subtle at first, gradually increasing in manipulation and volume and eventually my careless, untrained, undisciplined mind was ruling my life – screaming lies so loud into my mind, I began believing them as truth. It wasn’t until by God’s grace, I recognized I was about to overheat and started replacing those lies with Truth, that the Lord was able to bring me out of that.
Eventually my careless, untrained, undisciplined mind was ruling my life – screaming lies so loud into my mind.
I began searching my Bible for pieces of scripture I could hold onto, meditate on, memorize and yes speak out loud to myself. In most of the verses I even changed the pronouns to “I” and “me,” turning my “talking” into “preaching,” which made it all the more personal. In my journey out of lowliness I also stumbled upon this old-school video by John Piper about the importance of preaching the gospel to yourself everyday. In the video he quotes Martin Lloyd-Jones, who articulates this point much clearer than I can:
Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but there they are, talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, “Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.” ― D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Milton Vincent, another scholar on this subject, penned this bold statement saying, “There is simply no other way to compete with the forebodings of my conscience, the condemnings of my heart and the lies of the world in the devil than to overwhelm such things with daily rehearsings of the Gospel. There is indeed simply no other way.”
Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?
No other way? Then apparently it’s this simple: It has become abundantly clear to me how important it is that I take meaningful, intentional steps to discipline my mind, taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)
This isn’t something I have mastered. In fact, I’m constantly trying to memorize more and more scripture because I am just that stubborn and dense. But today I’m asking you to join me. Will you also join the countless men and women who find themselves wrestling with the same lies, and be an example to those around you of someone whose mind is dedicated and disciplined to reciting scripture instead?
What is it that you believe about yourself, your circumstances, your life, or even about God that simply isn’t true? What scriptures do you need to embed deep into your mind and heart and believe to be true?
Need a place to start? Start by saying “Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you” and then start preachin’!
(Can’t see the video? Check it out here.)
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