Sometimes our thoughts can take us captive. Whether you’re struggling to combat sensual thoughts or trying to move on from a terminated relationship, once a thought or memory enters your mind, it can be hard to turn your attention to anything else.
“You have the memory of an elephant!” One of my best friends told me once. I’m accustomed to receiving similar statements and always viewed my recall as a gift, that is until I lost a close friend and learned that remembering everything in vivid detail is a blessing and a curse.
All I could do was remember and I was haunted by the memories I saw so crisply before me. And it needed to stop. I needed to break the endless loop of thought I was stuck in.
You should not get comfortable with dwelling on the past or entertaining immoral thoughts because your thoughts control your life. Think of your mind like a fire, your thoughts tantalizing flames. Just as fire produces smoke, your thoughts ripple out into external behavior. You need to stop burning the fluff that causes so much smoke.
The thing is, you can’t stop thinking about something by telling yourself to stop thinking about it. The very act is causing you to think about it.
Don’t go there, Tristen, I told myself. Don’t remember. Don’t remember. Don’t remember. But such self-dialogue only brought to mind more things I didn’t want to think about. At one point I filled an entire page of my journal with the words “I don’t want to remember” …with memories that were coming to mind slipped in between.
Instead of making a direct attack, you need to focus on something else.
Some friends of mine were outside in a line to get food one February night. Naturally, they felt like the cold was getting a bite out of their toes so, to keep their mind off their feet, they sang Disney songs at the top of their lungs. Of course, everyone around was giving them side glances so one considered toning it down. “No! We can’t!” The other exclaimed. “We have to keep it up or we’ll think about our feet!” That’s how it works. If you need to stop thinking about something, focus on something else.
Instead of wallowing in confusion, bitterness, or regret, identify your calling and purpose and do the next right thing. If you’re in school, focus on your studies. Invest your intellect. If you see a way you can help someone, dive all in. Above all, hone in on your relationship with God.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”— Philippians 4:8
Think about your goals. Your dreams. Your visions. Where are you now and where do want to be? Where do want to be in a year, 10 years, when you’re 75? What can you do today to be one step closer to your end goal?
In my case, I got a burning passion to develop this blog, to make it more user-friendly and create content to export what I’ve learned and what God is currently showing me. That’s where I am now, chipping away at this life-long goal. And you know what? While I’m whole-heartedly focussed on and excited about the work God would have me do, I’m no longer thinking about things it’d be better for me not to dwell on.
Of course, Christ should be the primary occupant of your mind. As the old song says, focus on Him and the things of earth will grow strangely dim. Check out my post on how to fight your battles for more information on that front. For now, know that all things flow out of the mind, so meditate on God and what He’s done and you’ll begin to see fruit in your life rather than ghosts.