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Sometimes the most brutal battles we face in life are the ones that never leave our minds. 

Between the crevices of our silky ears and larger than life heads, the intellects we maintain tend to do a lot of speaking, even if it’s in the silence. 

The thoughts we think about ourselves that we know aren’t right, yet for some reason, can’t stop dwelling on them, for example, haunt us when we’re most vulnerable. In the span of a second, they transform from truth into reality, even if what we saw as truth couldn’t be further from it. 

“Amber, you’re a failure.”

“Amber, you’re a horrible teacher.”

“Amber, you’re too organized, strict on yourself, rigid, and OCD.”

“Amber, all you’ll ever be are your diagnoses.”

“Amber, why can’t you just be happy?”

“Amber, everyone sees you’re drowning; get with the program.”

“Amber, everything is your fault,” my sympathetic counselor calmly replied to me during one evening counseling session in demonstration of his point. 

Why would I ever let someone talk to me that way? I thought to myself, shaking off the thoughts as my counselor finished his example.

“Those are some pretty accusatory and over-generalized statements to make about yourself,” their voice gently pushed.

If I’d never let someone else talk to me that way, why would I talk to myself that way? I inquired internally. 

“That’s the power of challenging thoughts. Think about what you’re thinking about, Amber,” they smiled.

“Half the stuff you feed yourself isn’t feeding you; it’s starving your soul,” the Holy Spirit within me lurched. “Half the stuff you feed yourself isn’t feeding you; it’s starving your soul,”

Half the stuff you feed yourself isn't feeding you; it's starving your soul, Click To Tweet

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Since conception, it’s seemed that I struggle with a negative self-image. 

It’s not necessarily that I think I am horribly vain or grave, but when countless diagnoses cloud you, a ferocious mind of anxiety engulfs you, and the wolves of your past come howling your last name, it’s easy to believe anything Satan plants in your mind. 

It’s effortless to wish for the days of old when the ages of new are a nightmare.

I once read a devotional that said the only thing Satan has control over is your mind. If you’ve already given him the keys and swung the door wide-open, what good is it to fight from the inside? If we want to take captive of our thoughts, especially those ruling unwarranted arrests and havoc on our lives, we have to start with what we believe. 

Like a nightguard watching post at his base, we must understand that we catch a feeling before we catch a thought, but what we do with that feeling attributes to everything. 

So, how do we fight this battle? Well, we begin by not taking it lightly and arming up with the proper armor. 

Ephesians 6:10-18 lists an expansive list of qualities needed to fight against the rulers and principalities of the evil one. Of that inventory, perhaps the most important for our thinking is the gift of the Spirit’s sword, which is the Word of God. 

Life in and of itself is war. It’s a daily, hourly, minutely battle between flesh and honor, humanity and sinfulness, lust and love, pleasure and goodness, anxiety and joy, fear and freedom, truth and lies, temptation, and restraint. 

In the TPT version of Luke 12:22-34, we see that worry and fear add nothing but subtract everything from our daily living. No matter what we do, I can say with confidence that none of us can extend our days here on this Earth beyond what the Lord has already willed for each of us. 

In verse 25, the Scriptures say, “Which of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” (Luke 12:25, NIV). 

The KJV depicts this word “worry” as “taking thought,” for “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” (Luke 12:25, KJV), or “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” in the ESV (Luke 12:25, ESV). 

Worrying, taking thought, or anxious, the Greek word for “taking thought” is merimnaƍ, a noun meaning concern. 

Merimnaƍ, when translated, literally means “care, anxiety, or worry,” “to divide/separate.” It also represents a mental state or condition where someone is occupied with or dwelling upon something. The verb translation even takes this further to implicate “anxious, troubled, or careful thought,” that we see today in present versions. 

When we face anxiety, depression, or fear from a thought in our mind, it typically derives from a single idea that crossed our consciousness. 

Whether it is true or not, and though external circumstances do heavily influence this, I want you to know that through Jesus Christ, you do have the ability to persevere when the Father of Lies attempts to fog your vision. It begins by taking back the mind God gave you. 

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In Proverbs 4:23-27, the ESV tells us to be careful what we allow in our minds, for it will quickly be reflected in the heart. In the TPT version, it states, “So above all, guard the affections of your heart, for they affect all that you are. Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23, ESV).

As we fight together today, challenge those thoughts and battle for the mind God uniquely blessed you. With anywhere between 50,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day, take the time to contemplate what is right. The thinking that is true, lovely, pure, and admirable, dwell on it but expel anything else through His perfect love that casts out all fear. 

These thoughts, fears, and anxious ways of living can physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally debilitate our quality of life and well-being, but they don’t have to if we stop them in their tracks and cut them off at their life-source. 

The next time you have a thought, challenge it. 

Curiously ask, is this right, authentic, lovely, and pure? 

Have the confidence to acknowledge that what you’re going through isn’t just “All In Your Head,” but a real war that many of us wage daily. 

Accept that outside factors like genetics, environment, relationships, and factors outside of your control can impact how you act, feel, or think about life, and that’s okay! 

Live with the transparency that if you’re saved and have an intimate relationship with Jesus, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever struggle but, it may often lead to even more hard suffering and hardship. Struggling doesn’t make you unspiritual or immature but shows your perseverance. 

Let go of the unfulfilled expectations that sicken our souls and re-fill the lives that are satisfied in what the Lord says is true. Solomon once declared, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12, NIV). 

Empathetically Ignore and Validate the criticism thrown at you, even if your mind is the one pitching that curveball the hardest. While a helpful rebuke helps us become better Christians, an unkind remark for no reason saddens the soul. 

Never allow accumulation to overburden your grateful heart. At the center of our lives, we have a motherboard guarding our minds in Christ Jesus and isn’t just us, but the soul God created within us to fulfill His mission here on Earth. Sometimes, the cumulative effect of one struggle after another that piles up and weighs us down can lead to our waterfall of problems. If we take the time to thank God daily, however, we can combat accumulation with gratefulness. 

Giving God the glory from within our struggles, we can accurately recollect our present, past, and future and march forward for whatever He may have in store. In the devotional plan “Jesus Loves The Broken,” the author notes, “Someone noted that “the good old days” are just a combination of a bad memory and a good imagination. If we remember past days in the wrong light, making them better than they were, an emotional and spiritual crash is imminent.” Even in our most broken states, remember the truth from where you’ve come and the journey you’ve taken to get there. 

Even in our most broken states, remember the truth from where you've come and the journey you've taken to get there.  Click To Tweet

Effortfully pressing forward, know that things will get better even though it doesn’t seem or feel like it right now. Instead of preoccupying thoughts with negative thoughts about yourself, think about what you can do to help and serve other people. Satan hates nothing more than losing a battle with your mind because that’s the only power he can ever have over you anyway. 

By replacing your thoughts with God’s truth, replacing yourself with your God, and replacing your past with your future, the fight for your mind will become much more manageable. 

“Though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, ESV). 

This battle isn’t easy, dear friend, but you never walk alone. 

Until next time, 

Agape, 

Amber