I'm a daughter, granddaughter & niece of pastors. I love God & studying the Bible and want to empower others to do the same.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things. -Philippians 4:8 BSB
Thoughts can be beautiful. We can think about our favorite memories, smells, we can dream of a better future and how to make it happen and achieve those goals. All things in our created world began as a thought, an idea—skyscrapers, sculptures, parks, antibiotics, electricity, phones, recliners, toilets, mirrors. Books, one of my favorite things, are filled with thoughts. They can alter ours, our perspectives, they can teach empathy and deeper understanding. They can educate us and help us know more about history, science, philosophy, psychiatry, anything.
Thoughts can also be terrifying, crippling, causing panic attacks, depressive episodes so bad we can’t leave the bed, and more negative health effects, even amplifying inflammation and auto-immune diseases through constant release of cortisol as a result of long-term stress.
Thoughts are powerful, and can “make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” (Milton) Some patients in a clinical trial who believed whole-heartedly that they were receiving the desired medication and that it would cure them, though they were actually receiving the placebo, were healed in the same way as those who actually received the medication.
Thoughts can also control us, derail us, distract us, lure us in directions that are unwanted, unsafe, or even just unnecessary at the moment, if we don’t learn to control them. This is one of the hardest challenges for many people. Some never were taught by another how to control their thoughts, how to turn away from and ignore, or just not believe every thought they have. Some struggle with low self-worth because they believe the negative thoughts they have that echo LIES that they are unlovable, unworthy, incapable, useless, helpless, powerless, perpetual failures. You are not. WE are not. Not in Christ. So how to control thoughts? There is a beautiful formula in this verse.
Ask yourself, is what I’m thinking true? Is it honorable? Is it right? Is it pure? Is it lovely? Is it admirable? If not, walk away. In your thoughts, walk away and think about something else, something that IS these things. If anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.
Distract yourself like a magician doing a trick, like a parent with a child who is screaming and crying because they can’t have or do this one thing, show them something else that will distract them, something that is useful. To the depressed thought, show it something lovely, excellent, or praiseworthy. To the fearful thought, show it something true, right, useful. I am thankful God gives us beautiful things to think on, the unconditional trust and love of a child, sunlight filtering through fall leaves on a tree, the sound of laughter, my favorite paintings and sculptures, my best days, my favorite sights, smells, flavors. So many beautiful things. I have begun a list, to distract and redirect myself when my thoughts turn dark. I even list my accomplishments to silence the fears that tell me I can’t. Van Gogh said “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and the voice will be silenced.” Whatever I am afraid to do, I remind myself of all I have done, while afraid, and that I can do this new thing. I will do it. And I am thankful for the ability to do it, by the grace of God. And that thankfulness, that too, is a gift, and a beautiful thought. Perhaps it is the best of thoughts, when directed to my Savior.
© 2020 Amanda Lorenzo
manatita44 from london on November 19, 2020:
Lovely! I note your Heat-felt thoughts also. Keep it up!
Liz Westwood from UK on November 19, 2020:
This is a very thoughtful and thought-provoking article. You make some very helpful and valid points.
Naude Lorenzo on November 19, 2020:
Very smart article as usual, I will share it with people I now will appreciate it, love you