Making My Mind, Mind

angstTo make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. Henry David Thoreau

In my darkest years, I was harassed by voices that accused me and terrorized me with memories of excruciating incidents. The voices jeered: “You’re alone, sick, and broke. God is mad at you. You’re a loser. Don’t get back up; you’ll only get knocked down again!”

The most difficult time to corral those renegade thoughts was when I was trying to get to sleep. Most nights, sleep eluded me. I would try to wear down the night by watching the clock. While drifting off, my mind raced like a nervous greyhound around an oval track, chasing a mechanical rabbit, and I struggled to drag them away from that track.

In my repeated readings of the book of Job I ran across these nighttime musings of his: “When I lie down I think, ‘How long till I get up?’ The night drags on, and I toss till dawn” and, “Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest.” (Job 7:4 and 30:17) I figured at least I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t sleep! I journaled prayers for deliverance from the taunts and toxic thinking. “Lord, tell my mind to mind me!”

After some of my well-meaning friends added to my confusion with sincere, but unwise, advice and comments, I applied the blood of Jesus to the doorpost of my mind and asked for the toxic thoughts to be turned away. I pleaded with God to save me from fear, anxiety, vengeance, bitterness, worthlessness, hopelessness, and despair and to fill me with his thoughts.

I began listening to Bible commentaries and lectures, which helped me chase Jesus instead of the elusive rabbit, and lull me to sleep at night. As I fell asleep listening to these tapes, the personality, teaching, and compassion of Jesus became a comfort to me and rested my mind.

Though I could not completely avoid the nagging voices of depression and despair, I began to block this “stinking thinking” by trying to “fix [my] thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely and admirable. . . about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8). Rather than letting outright lies and half-truths camp unchallenged in my mind, I sought to “cast down these imaginations and bring every thought back into captivity” (2 Corinthians 10). Whenever I wrestled my renegade thoughts under control or struggled to differentiate clearly between truth and lies, I told myself that I was making my mind, mind. Because I knew that if I didn’t make my mind up, something—or someone—would make it up for me.


Excerpted The Other End of the Dark. You can purchase it here. The profits all go to Freedom House.

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