Today’s post is an excerpt from Craig Groeschel’s new book Winning The War In Your Mind: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, I’d highly recommend that you do.
There is a specific lie I have believed as long as I can remember. Living as if that were true has been one of the biggest limiting forces in my life. For years my strongest thoughts have always been about my shortcomings. I have always felt inadequate. No matter what anyone else said, my inner voice always screamed, No matter how hard you try, you’ll never measure up.
Why did I feel that way? Frankly, I’m not sure; I have never not felt that way. It seems self-doubt comes naturally to me, but at the same time I could give you a resume proving why I should feel that way.
Essentially, I was living a faithless life.
As I type these words about how we can control our thought life, my mind is racing. As the psalmist often wrote (Ps. 42:5, for example), I am wrestling with my thoughts. I am battling feelings of overwhelming anxiety because I have said yes to too many things and overcommitted myself again.
Yes, my mind is out of control. I wish I could tell you I’m full of faith as I write this first chapter of the book, but my thoughts are full of fear.
But then I come back to what I know is true. And what is true is the point of this book.
I swat at the swarm of thoughts flitting around my head and remember that I am not a victim of my own mind. I have power over my thoughts. I am not captive to them. With God’s help, I can make them captive to me.
While I know those truths, at the same time the reality is that I am a struggling thought warrior who has battled insecurity, negativity, fear, and anxiety most of my life.
Midway through college, something dramatic happened to me. Jesus changed my life. By God’s grace, he found me and saved me.
Soon I was being so transformed by my relationship with Christ that, while still very new in my faith, I sensed God calling me to be a pastor. (Way before pastors could wear cool shoes and have more Instagram followers than church members.)
As God was building my faith, I felt him telling me I could make a difference in the world through his church. All my childhood insecurities and teenage self-doubts were being eclipsed by glimpses of hope. What do I mean? Well, here’s a little backstory for context:
When I was growing up, my family couldn’t afford name-brand clothes, so my mother bought used Izod socks at garage sales, cut the alligators out, and sewed them on my generic shirts.
I felt fake.
In second grade I discovered I was color-blind. Not only could I not match my fake Izod shirts to my no-name pants, but I would never see the beauty of this world as others could.
I felt defective.
In a spelling bee with my classmates, I misspelled Mississippi. We had learned a song teaching us how to spell the word. And every time an i appears, there’s only one of them and two of everything else. How could I possibly misspell Mississippi?
I felt stupid.
In fifth grade a girl named Tiffany dumped me for a guy named Brian. Her reason? Brian had a motorcycle. I only had a moped. (Yes, twelve-year-olds in my small town drove motorcycles and mopeds.) Tiffany said I was Richie Cunningham and she wanted the Fonz. (If you’re too young to remember Happy Days, then think of it like she said I was Screech and she wanted Zack Morris.)
I felt lame.
My father played minor league baseball. He was a professional athlete, and I wasn’t sure if I could even play in college.
I felt inadequate.
These isolated events, along with many others, formed my perception of myself into the reality I would carry into my newfound faith as a young adult.
I felt I wasn’t good enough.
So I learned to play it safe and avoid risks at all costs. I felt that, given any opportunity, I would fail. I quietly came to define success as just not failing.
Chances are good you have your own set of lies holding you back. The lies nearly derailed my call to ministry.Chances are good you have your own set of lies holding you back. - @craiggroeschel Click To Tweet
How about you? What negative messages did you take away from your childhood?
What unhealthy and destructive conclusions have you come to believe about yourself and your place in the world?
Satan’s strategy to win the battle for your mind is getting you to believe lies. If you believe a lie, it will hold you back from doing what God’s calling you to do.
The lie will keep you living in shame from the past, when God wants to set you free for a better future.
The lie will keep you from living with joy and freedom and confine you to a less-than existence.
When legendary magician Harry Houdini came into a town to do his show, he often went to the local jail, gathering a crowd of people along the way. To get buzz going about his upcoming performance, he asked the jailer to lock him in a cell. Time after time, jail after jail, town after town, Houdini escaped within minutes.
But one jailer had heard that Houdini was coming, and the jailer was ready. When Houdini closed the cell door, the jailer put the key in the lock and secretly turned it in the wrong direction. He then removed the key, and everyone watched as Houdini struggled to escape—by unknowingly locking himself in repeatedly. Finally, in frustration, Houdini admitted he could not escape. The jailer then revealed his deception. Houdini had believed a lie, and the lie had held him captive.
Living your life by a lie is a lot like believing the door is locked when it isn’t. On the other side is freedom. But you first have to commit to some personal lie detection to experience the abundant life Jesus came and died to give you. That leads us to our first exercise.Satan’s strategy to win the battle for your mind is getting you to believe lies. If you believe a lie, it will hold you back from doing what God’s calling you to do. - @craiggroeschel Click To Tweet
Part 1: Inventory
As you go through a normal day, take stock of your thoughts. Write them down, type them into the notes on your phone, or record them in your voice memo app to transcribe later. Trust me, if you really want to change, you need to invest the time to figure out what you are regularly thinking. Be honest. Don’t lie to yourself about the lies you tell yourself.If you really want to change, you need to invest the time to figure out what you are regularly thinking. Be honest. Don’t lie to yourself about the lies you tell yourself. - @craiggroeschel Click To Tweet
Evaluate the factors consistent in your day. Are you more negative in the morning but usually level out by the end of your workday? Or the opposite? Do you tend to bring negative thinking home with you? Or do you manage to leave it at work? Consider all the dynamics and patterns of your day. Pray and ask God to reveal anything he wants you to see and understand in how you think.
Once you see your thoughts in black and white, you can begin to work on your thought life. Jesus said the truth sets us free, but first we must reveal the truth.Jesus said the truth sets us free, but first we must reveal the truth. - @craiggroeschel Click To Tweet