I’m pretty sure everyone at some point has been reminded of the phrase “there’s power in positive thinking,” but did you know this was actually based in scripture? In high school I was a slave to whatever thought was going through my mind, but fast forward to my fourth year of college and while I still struggle with some of the things I did in high school, things are a lot different. I still hear some of the same destructive thoughts run through my mind, but have realized that living as a slave to my thoughts is mentally exhausting. A battle of the mind never rests, even when we need to. Over the past year I’ve started taking my thoughts captive, here’s what I’ve learned:
Actions don’t start on their own or without warning. They begin in our minds as thoughts; when we become comfortable with the thought, we begin to vocalize. Once we become comfortable vocalizing, we move to actions. Thoughts lead to words and words lead to actions. Pretty simple, right? This process can happen in a matter of seconds, but sometimes it takes years. Sometimes, we wish good thoughts would turn into voiced and actions, but they seem to be stopped in the thought phase. I wish people would stop thinking the world should be kinder, stop talking about how to be kind, and just go out there and actively be kind. What about bad or evil actions though? How do they make it to the action phase? Just like some things seem to be stuck in the thought phase, others have progressed to the action phase even though they should have been halted as mere thoughts. How can we combat these? I think the answer is found in treating our thoughts the same way we treat people.
Look at the structure of our courts for example, when someone goes to prison, there are different sentences, some are longer depending on how evil the act/disobedience they were put on trial for. Sometimes good people do something wrong or get caught up in the wrong crowd and they need to be corrected—there is still hope that this person, with a small amount of reformation they will be able to return to society without jeopardizing the safety of others. Others need more of a punishment to ensure they won’t do this again, inevitably some of these will be repeat offenders. Others are so dangerous to humanity that they need to be locked up forever. The same holds true for our thoughts. Some thoughts you hear over and over and while they might only be mildly bad, they have done damage over time. Some thoughts start out as good, but turn into bad ones. Some thoughts are so dangerous to our mental and spiritual health that they need to be locked away and never tolerated again because they will never be safe. We need to take our bad thoughts captive and correct them. Taking thoughts captive is actually Biblical, in fact, we’re commanded to! 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey the Lord.” To really understand what a verse means, I like to go to the dictionary. I think there’s so much power in truly studying and defining words.
captive– a person or thing that has been taken prisoner,
imprisoned or confined
obey– comply with the command, direction, or request
of a person or law, submit to the authority, behave in accordance with
I literally love these definitions. Seriously, there’s so much power in them! Keep them in mind as you think about taking your thoughts captive.
The first type of lie is the small and steady whisper.
These tiny little whispers may not seem like much, but over time they can do some major damage. They become a habit and it can be harder to correct a habit that it is to stop one big action! These little whispers have manifested for me in school, always telling me that I wasn’t good enough, and in my personal life, telling me I needed to do a certain thing or act a certain way to be “acceptable.” What’s crazy is that these little whispers literally controlled my every move! I would hear them at lunch telling me “don’t eat too fast, it’s not lady like” or “sit up straighter, you look like a bum.” Literally, all these tiny whispers had my analyzing my every move and it was exhausting. They distracted me from what was really important—my heart. If I had focused on the posture of my heart as much as I did my physical posture, I truly believe I wouldn’t have had so many broken relationships in high school.
The second type is the thought that’s rooted in truth but has been twisted, one big one of these for me started when I began to wear makeup. (I think this one is most prevalent in my life!)
I grew up in the middle of salon culture. My mom owns a full-service salon and I grew up playing with hair tools and makeup pretty often. However, I really didn’t get interested in makeup as a daily routine until I was in high school when I took art classes and we covered painting. I started to see putting on makeup as painting and I got pretty good at it. In no way did I start wearing makeup because I wanted to “paint over my face.” I honestly just enjoyed my me-time in the mornings and the ability to have a routine. Over the years, people got used to me wearing makeup and started to expect me to wear it. Some saw it as part of my identity and would ask if I was okay or sick when I wasn’t wearing it. Some of my family members would even tell me to “finish getting ready” if I came to go somewhere without any makeup. This really started to affect me and took something I found joy in and made me a slave to it. Isn’t that so like the enemy— twisting our passions and making us slaves to them? These types of lies are tricky because they were stolen truths. It’s really up to us to decide if we want to steal them back or if we just need to walk away, but never allow yourself to stay in them. I’m a work in progress, but I am at war over this passion of mine. I refuse to wear makeup anymore simply because I feel like I have to in order to look presentable. If I have time and feel like doing it, I will calmly enjoy putting on my makeup, but if I’m in a rush, I refuse to be late simply because I don’t want to be seen without it. Girls, wearing a full face of makeup one day does not require you to wear a drop the next.
The third type of lie is the fatal one. These lies destroy us. These need to be in solitary confinement and be kept under close watch.
“He doesn’t deserve forgiveness.” “I will never forgive him.” These two are the most fatal lies I’ve ever had. At the time, they seemed like they were protecting me (see my post Pursuing Forgiveness, Fighting Fear // ), but in reality they were out to destroy me and steal my eternity. Here’s the thing, Jesus wants these lies gone forever. These lies literally have eternal consequences if we don’t get control of them and keep watch for them to try to escape every single day. Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your father will not forgive your wrongdoing.”
In times of rejection, stress, or hurt, there’s a lot that runs through our minds. Many of the thoughts that add to these already intense emotions make so much sense in our minds, but literally sound so stupid when we say them out loud or tell them to a friend. That’s the enemy’s biggest weapon—keeping us isolated to be tormented and controlled by our own thoughts. It’s not easy sharing our thoughts with others, but it’s so freeing once we do. I promise, you will never be the only person who has thought that crazy thought that has control of you. The first step in taking back control of your mind is getting them out of your head and into the world where they can be corrected. The method I now use to “take my thoughts captive” is writing them down, searching the word of God, and correcting them with scripture. Write the thoughts down as you are thinking them even if you don’t have time to “correct” them in that moment. Be sure to go back later alone or with a friend to correct them. Write down the correction and make a new statement of truth. The next time you have this thought (trust me, it will come back eventually because that’s how the enemy works) correct the thought by vocalizing the true statement. Remember, the word of God has authority over ALL things. Remember the definition of obey? Obey means to “submit to the authority of or behave in accordance with.” WOW.
This is my prayer for you; Jesus help us to recognize these types of thoughts when they come into our heads. If there is a thought that isn’t consistent with your word, help us to clearly and quickly see it. Help us to take our thoughts captive to obey what you have said.
There is so much power in reclaiming our thoughts and sharing those with others! If you have done this, please comment with your lie and statement of truth so we can all share in your joy and claim this truth when we hear the same lie! If you would like to do this but can’t see past the lie, please comment (or message me if it’s more private) and we can work together to find a truth statement!
NEW! If you'd like some help with getting started taking back your mind, you can download my free printable, Captive, in the shop!