Do you know how you think? Do you listen you to the negative tape in your head? Do you know the source of its injunctions, its fears? Are you comfortable with all that you are, warts and all? Or do you push away the thoughts? Will you do anything to drown them out? What is your relationship to your habitual mind?
These questions are really important to address. They are an indicator of how comfortable we are in our own shoes, of how relaxed, how trusting, how hopeful we are. No one wants to engage with all the negativity inside each of us, but that engagement is the way into a deeper, truer relationship with ourselves and with God. As long as we run from those thoughts, do anything so we don’t have to listen to them, we are enslaved by them. They are either directing our behavior to things that are not appropriate to the situation we are in—only true to our childhood imperatives—or they are making us crazy, so we’ll do anything to stop their influence over us.
There is another way to deal with them. And that is to become an observer of them. They become encoded in us at an early age, so we can be sure that we are trying to make up for some fault of our own or inability to obey our parents and teachers. They are the should-do list that will haunt us until we die if we do not unplug from the power they have over us.
As an observer, we learn to sit with them and not run away or do what they are insisting we do. We see their sources—our mother or father or teacher or other significant person in our lives, perhaps a sibling. We see how dated they are, how inappropriate our response would be if we followed them in the here and now. We don’t let them upset us either in the anxiety they would like to produce or in any other emotional response.
As an observer, we are stepping back and looking at them objectively. We are learning that these voices do not speak the truth, especially not the whole truth about us. We learn that there are things that we need to accept about ourselves that we couldn’t as a child.
And what does stepping back from the hold our negative thoughts have on us have to do with a deep relationship with God, you might ask? Everything is my answer! These negative-tape voices are the loudest within us. They easily drown our any “still, small voice” of God. [1 Kings 19:12NIV] We cannot “Be still and know that I am God.” [Psalm 46:10]Until we can unplug from their power over us, we will not be able to hear and heed the voice of the Indwelling Spirit of God.
Fortunately, God doesn’t think like we do at all! He sees each of us as we are, knows everything about us, even the things we try to hide from Him. He accepts us, loves us, and forgives us.
It’s a wonderful step towards a deeper relationship with God to become an observer of our thoughts. And it’s a big step towards our deeper, truer self, the way we were created to be, a big step away from the influence of the culture, the world.
We could think of our habitual mind as our own Greek Chorus. Ancient Greek plays had a chorus, sometimes masked, which commented on the action of the play, suggesting how the audience might react, naming the hidden, but unexpressed fears or secrets of the characters. The chorus emphasized and explained and commented on the play itself. [ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_chorus#Dramatic_function]
Does this image remind you of the loud voices that each of us has in our minds that comments, ridicules our choices, suggests the one right thing we should do right now. It keeps us on track at least as it responds to the wounded self-image that was formed in our early childhood and still operates within us, trying to keep us on that old agenda of making us fit into this world. These negative tapes are the narrow lens through which we experience our lives. Oh, to be free of them!!!!!! And to see like God sees!!!!
Once we become an observer of these thoughts and no longer are influenced by them. God’s soft whisper begins to emerge from the deep shadows, so that we can hear what He is suggesting to us to do, to say or to be. Those quiet murmurs are our guide to our deeper, truer self and to a deep relationship with God.
It’s not enough, of course, to just observe the thoughts that God thinks in us, we have to follow what they suggest for us. For me, God speaks of everything in my life at different times from which way to drive home to which restaurant to eat at to what book to read next to which Book of the Bible to read to what topic to write about next in my blog and more. Some of the deepest things God has said to me are about what I need to work on in myself now, like this one: “How can I say I love God, if I can’t even love my mother?” Or when my husband’s cancer came back not four months after he was declared cancer-free, it was, “If you can just hold all possible outcomes equally, well, then….”
I wrote last week about the bridges in my life that God built for me to a new life, like this one, “I have an agenda for my life.” Or this one, “Take Spanish classes.” Sometimes he tells me things in my dreams, for instance in one I was speaking of my purpose to a favorite minister of mine, “Your job is to inspire the congregation, mine is to connect the dots.” That took me a week or so of pondering to figure out that He meant that I was to connect Jesus’ teachings to 21st C. American life.
God thinks in broader, truer ways than we do. He knows us so well; He knows just what we need to do next in building the relationship to God and to our own true selves, not the culturally conditioned self. You know, I can’t even imagine how God thinks, my brain is too small. All I know is that if I can think at all like God does, I am a whole lot happier and fulfilled than I was when I lived in my own very negative thoughts. So I await His next whisper to me, to see what comes next in my life!
Questions to ponder over the week: Am a captive of the negative tapes in my mind? Will I do anything to escape them? Will I become an observer of my thoughts and see what the content of them is really about? Will I be free of their power?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who can “hear” God’s thoughts in our minds and do what He is suggesting. May we acknowledge our own thinking and choose God’s to run our lives. May we reap all the blessings of God’s Word.
Check out the archives of all my posts going back to 2011 on this page.
I’ve posted links to all the videos I’ve done on my website and highlighted the best one(in my opinion): “On Eagle’s Wings.” Check it out at http://bythewaters.net/videos.php.
My book, “Thy Kingdom Come!”, is up on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions. Look under Patricia Said Adams. A summary is available on my website, bythewaters.net/spiritual-tools.html.
I have an essay published in an anthology of writings by Christian authors, entitled “What Can We Learn About Suffering From the Exodus Story.” The book is entitled “Let Hope Arise” by Authors for Christ and is available on Amazon.