It feels like such a Christianese term nowadays… “I’m being refined.”
Do you know how silver is refined? It’s a process to be sure. Yet afterwards, the metal is gleaming and shining with all the impurities removed.
Despite the overuse of this term, I feel like I’m being refined right now. This season is hard.
I’ve been struggling recently. I don’t want to call it postpartum depression, maybe it’s the baby blues or hullabaloo of hormones and emotions…
But I’ve been experiencing my first depressive episodes since my time of healing five years ago.
There are days that are good and easy and joy-filled. There are also days that I am so weepy and morose.
On those difficult days my emotions try to spiral. Negative thoughts, lies, fears and anxieties abound. It’s exhausting trying to keep my mind in check. This is when “taking every thought captive,” as 2 Corinthians 10 tells us, comes into play.
What we feel is not necessarily truth, feelings aren’t fact.
Not everybody hates you or is out to get you! Not everything is going to go wrong. You’re not a failure.
My logical brain knows this. In those times of mental spiral and negative to thought, we need to stand on our foundation of truth to keep us steady when we feel shaky.
What’s Your Foundation of Truth?
This is a place in your mind that you can come back to when you’re struggling. It’s your core, unshakable beliefs.
This can be things like-
- Jesus died for me and rose again.
- I am chosen, redeemed, and loved.
- God is for me, not against me.
- I am a child of God.
- My family loves me.
- _____ is not my enemy.
- God will never leave me.
- I am safe.
- I was created with purpose.
- God is not taken by surprise and knows what’s ahead of me.
When thoughts come into our mind like “I can’t feel God, He’s left me, He isn’t speaking to me” we have a baseline to come back to to correct ourselves and align our thinking with the truth.
No I am not alone, because the Word says God will not abandon me, leave me, or forsake me.
Let’s go back to 2 Corinthians 10:5, where Paul tells us to take every thought captive. This passage is so important and addresses the battlefield in our minds.
As the Enduring Word Commentary says (really awesome insight into this passage), we are not helpless victims to our thoughts! This might be unfathomable to you, but hear me out for a moment.
You cannot help what pops into your mind, but you are in control of what you choose to dwell on.
An example of this for me is when I drive. I often have intrusive thoughts about getting t-boned when I go through intersections, or getting in an accident on the highway.
Can this happen? Of course. But if I give space to these thoughts in my mind I can easily be consumed by fear. I might even get to the point of not driving at all out of my fear!
Instead, I need to take those thoughts captive and reroute my thinking.
For me this looks like reassuring myself, and if those thoughts are really loud, I sing a song or talk to my kids to shift my mind, I even pray out loud.
If your thought life is damaging to yourself or your relationships, you might need to think about how you can take authority in your mind.
Maybe on your bad days you have thoughts about your spouse not loving you, or your friends hating you. How can you take those thoughts captive?
Think about your good days. How do your friends make you feel when you’re with them? Do they uplift you, edify and encourage you?
Remind yourself of the good things and assume the best.
All couples have moments of conflict and experience times or even seasons of struggle. But like above, go back to the moments on good days. Assume the best of their words or intentions.
We can’t live in a constant state of offense or victimhood. This is dangerous and so damaging to our mental health and relationships.
(This is not meant to simplify or condone abuse or toxicity in anyway, of you are truly experiencing that in your relationship consider counseling and help! Consider separation from friends that aren’t safe or take advantage.)
When we entertain negative thoughts again and again we can develop patterns. We can also develop positive patterns overtime as well! It just takes practice.
According to Dr. Athena Staik of Psych Central, an independent mental health information and news website, our thoughts create “inner standards” that spark neurochemical dynamic processes that govern our choices and actions.Her Style of Tea (tap to read more)
Thoughts spark emotions and drive decisions to take action or no action at all. Whether we realize it or not, our thoughts are very much linked to our reality.
If you’re having a bad day where nothing is going right it might be tempting to sit with those self-pitying feelings, but that’s some swampy territory.
A bad day doesn’t make a bad life! Let’s shift the focus and make the best of what we can.
Part of this journey of finding delight in my daily life has been taking control of my thought life. This feels like hard work sometimes!
But it’s worth it, because what you allow in your mind affects SO much!
If we continue to allow negative thoughts to reign it can affect our daily outlook, behavior, relationships, jobs, and more.
You are not a passive bystander. You can train your mind just like you can train your body.
Taking thoughts captive might seem impossible, so what are some practical ways to retrain your thinking?
- Reach out to a friend.
- Call someone you can trust to remind you of those foundational truths when you’re having doubts.
- Text someone when you’re having anxiety and ask them for an encouraging word or reminder.
- Facebook Messenger and Instagram DMs have a voice message feature. Ask a friend to pray over you!
- Write down your thoughts and fears, and then write another column of scripture that pertains to that line of thought or fear.
- Make a gratitude list. Gratitude is the key to joy. Shift your focus from your complaints to the good things in your day or your life.
- List your foundational truths and read over them. Maybe place them on a wall or mirror so you can see them!
- Get in the Word.
- Read scripture and focus on Biblical truths, meditate on what the Lord says about your mind.
- Memorize verses! This is so helpful when you’re having a hard day, to call to memory a timely verse in a difficult moment.
- Feeling all over the place? Put on some quiet worship music to calm yourself. I love the Peace album from Bethel Music for this!
- Have a worship dance party. Blast some upbeat worship music or even some Christian rap and dance! This kills two birds with one stone; you’re shifting your focus and moving your body – endorphins!
- Pray out loud, talk to Jesus in your heart, or even write your prayers down.
- Speak Biblical truth over yourself, ask for peace, for discernment, for insight into God’s plan if He would allow, and for contentment.
- Move your body. Get some exercise; Jesus dance party, go for a walk, mow the lawn.
- Change your scenery. Get out of the house and get some fresh air. Do a lap around the office away from your desk!
Does choosing joy or shifting my mindset cure my anxiety or depression?
No. But I guarantee you it can turn my entire day around. We don’t need to suffer and just barely survive.
We can thrive.
There are some really hard days where I need to have a lot of grace with myself; I lean on my husband for help and friends for encouragement. I slow down and let a few things fall off my plate.
I know the power of my mind. If I allow those lies of failure and assumptions of others fester I can start to live out of that and let those things become my identity and baseline.
When you start working out it can feel uncomfortable as you stretch parts of yourself that aren’t used to moving that way.
Likewise, when you aren’t accustomed to changing your thinking, it can feel uncomfortable too.
Just like you build muscle and lift more than when you first began exercising, after repetitive effort, taking your thoughts captive can be second nature!
You can do this friend! Make yourself a fresh cup of coffee or grab some water, and conquer your day. Choose to shift your thinking and take on your day as victor, not a victim.
I’m tired in this refining season. But I am taking heart that as my spirit is being refined, I am growing and maturing and becoming shiny and gleaming.
Take courage, dear heart. Let’s do this together and be more than conquerors 🧡
To read more about the spiritual aspect of taking your thoughts captive, please read this amazing, in-depth post by Shanté Grossett, at Her Style of Tea. Her words really resonated with me!