The mind is a powerful thing.
It can convince us we’re well, sick, happy or sad–it can skew reason and truth and take in jibberish and spew out logic.
The problem is that logic might be twisted, that truth not truth at all. Our minds might convince us that we’re ill and if we believe it, then before we know it, we are.
Every act we commit, every deed we do, originates as thought. We think it and then take action to manifest it in our lives. Years ago, in THE COMMON SENSE GUIDE FOR WRITERS, I listed key points on various topics pertaining to the subject of writing and retaining sanity. Actually, it was far more, in that it was living a balanced and healthy life as a writer. Significant because so many writers (as well as others) fall to additions of one type or another.
Anyway, one of the points was to recognize that thoughts have power and because the mind is so powerful, we have to guard it. Why? Because our thought life is often very different from our physical life.
In our thought life, we tend to be brutally honest with ourselves and what we think about things. We don’t censor our thoughts as we do our words, taking into consideration how others will receive those words we speak. Our thoughts are our own. So we feel free to be more frank and blunt and honest.
But that’s the very reason we must guard our minds. The reason we’re warned in 1Peter 1:13 to “gird up the loins of your mind.” The reason that there’s a distinction made between the “spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23) and the “fleshy mind” (Colossians 2:18). If there were nothing at risk in our minds and our thought lives posed no danger or weren’t at risk, then there would be no need for the distinction or for the warning.
Thoughts have power.
We’re bombarded all day every day with information and misinformation. With truth and lies and an ocean of stuff that falls in between because by nature or deliberate design bits of truth and lies are blended, and often it’s difficult to tell where truth stops and lies start. We see it in advertising and political posturing all the time. Half-truths. Seeds of truth. But the seeds are cocooned in misstatements of fact, exaggerations, and unfortunately, in attempts to deceive.
But here’s where God covers our backs. He gives us free will. Free will isn’t limited to what we adopt, it’s also available for us to shun. We can accept and reject. Acknowledge and ignore, agree and dispute.
Too often we limit this to our interactions with others. We apply this gift in dealing with others, but we neglect to apply it to ourselves, to our own thought life. The horror of that is it can distance us from our purpose, our spiritual inheritance, and from God.
I once set out to explain a complex issue to my husband. Midway, he stopped me and said, “Wait.” He swiped a hand above his head. “My hard drive is full.”
Smiling as I recall that because it happens to all of us. We take in so much and sift and sort through it, determining how we feel about it–whether to accept or reject–but too often we forget to dump or delete those old files that are of no use to us anymore. Then we’re jammed in clutter.
That clutter could be related to “old tapes” that run in our minds. Things once true but that aren’t true any longer–or things we believed to be true because we were told repeatedly they were, but they never really were true. You know the kind of old tapes I mean. “You can’t sing because you ‘can’t carry a tune in a bucket’” is one. These old tapes subtly or blatantly told you all you could never do or be and they became self-fulfilled prophesy because you believed them. And because you believed them and brought them to pass, they became your truth. That’s power of the mind.
That’s the challenges we face when we do not guard our thoughts or take control of our spirit minds.
The fleshy mind can convince us of all manner of things. But the spirit mind, which is even more powerful, is stronger. Wiser. More attuned because it is of spirit. It has the better perspective, encompasses the whole of us, and that includes our faith and beliefs. And yet even our spirit minds are vulnerable and require guarding.
Our spirit minds are not infallible or indestructible. They are vulnerable to our flaws and imperfections, our perceptions which are, simply put, filters. And that makes it all the more critical for us to guard them. We must be diligent, even persnickety, about what we let into our minds. Because what takes root there will manifest in our physical lives.
If we focus on all we aren’t, all we can’t do, on all the areas in which we fall short, we will never rise to the level God intended for us. By mismanaging our own free will, we will short shrift ourselves–and likely blame someone or something else, because, as humans, that’s what we tend to do. But the truth is, we’re doing it to ourselves. We’re blocking those blessings in whatever form from assisting us in reaching our goals and gaining our accomplishments.
If, instead, we focus on our strengths, on what we can do, on the areas in which we excel or have the potential to excel, then we can rise and live that joyful, abundant life God wants for us. It’s not only attainable, it’s filled with gems of stepping stones that add increase to our resources as we move. We think, we act. We take a step that leads to another and then another. Each step has rewards and successes, gains. We might need fifty steps to reach our objective, but if we’re guarding our spirit mind, we’re gaining resources and insights and wisdoms and knowledge that helps propel us down the path to that objective. The great news isn’t just that we get there, but that we’ve gained so much in the journey–and when that objective is reached, we don’t lose those “gem” gains. They go forth with us toward our next objective.
Now if our hard drive is full of clutter, we don’t have the RAM or space to take in those gems. They might register on our personal radar, but we don’t grasp them long enough or with the attention needed to fully embrace them. We lose.
Guarding your mind isn’t just about thinking positively. It’s about protecting your spirit mind. It’s about living constructively. Deliberately taking in that which is good and refusing to take in that which isn’t for our greater good.
Sometimes we take in things we think are constructive only to later discover they’re horrifically destructive. The big things are easy. We discard them. File 13. Delete, delete, delete.
We do it, but that’s not to say it’s painless, and it’s certainly not always easy. Re-examination can inflict pain. But it’s worthy pain if in the end we do what is constructive. It’s uncomfortable, it hurts, but when we discard the destructive, we halt the destruction. Halting destruction is good–and it frees up space for more of the constructive.
These spiritual tough times take a toll, but addressed for the right reasons, they always end in spiritual growth and advancement. And that advancement leaves us in a better place–and better equipped to deal with the remnants and regroup.
But it isn’t just big things that we take in and then discover they’re not in harmony with us, or the person we want to be. We’re all works in-progress. Growing. Changing. And something that fit us well even a short time ago might not fit us at all today. As Paul said, he’s reborn every morning. We all are. We change day to day, sometimes from moment to moment. We gain some knew wisdom or insight or knowledge that turns our world on its ear and insists that what we held dear before, we now toss out on its elbow. It appeared true and right but we now know it wasn’t and isn’t. So we discard, delete, file 13 it. We grow.
Gossip comes to my mind. We hear it. Do we take it in? Discard it? As listeners, do we repeat it? If we’re guarding our spirit mind, we’re going to change the subject as quickly as possible. Hear as little as possible. And repeat nothing. We’re going to protect our spirit mind because this is clutter. Destructive clutter. Unfair, unbalanced, and possibly untrue. It’s just not in our best interests to listen, participate or perpetuate.
If you guard your spirit mind, everything filters through the spirit, which encompasses the whole of you. That affords the best protection to your fleshy mind, gives it the very best you have to give it and the supernatural help from God.
I’ve gotten long-winded, again <sigh>. Sorry about that. Thinking through these things takes time. Writing through them takes words. And the words echoing through my mind are these:
Be selective. Embrace that which is good and constructive, that honors God and strengthens you. All the rest can damage you. Don’t embrace it, let it pass. If you’ve already embraced it, ditch it.
Or even more simply put:
Guard your mind.
c 2008, Vicki Hinze