Whatever Is True

Last week in therapy, the very first question my therapist asked me caught me off guard: “What is something good that happened this week?” I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me far longer to come up with something than it should have (and then what I did come up with is the fact that I am changing medications for what seems like the 800th time. Hooray for progress?). I was not prepared to immediately think of something positive, and this fact just emphasizes the reality that I’m prone to think negatively about my life. Had my therapist asked me to name the worst thing that happened this week, I could have responded quickly, and with a number of things. The brief respite I enjoyed from depression appears to be over, and I have found myself treading in deep waters of sorrow once again (which is why I have been pretty quiet in this space). When my inner world is so gray and cloudy, is it any wonder that I perceive everything around me through the same dark lens? Is it any wonder that, a few months ago when my therapist tasked me with making a list of 100 good things in my life, it took me almost a month to do so?

There must be a better way. And we find that better way in Scripture. Paul, in Philippians 4, encourages believers to fix their minds on certain things, recognizing that what the mind fixates on, it will become. He says in verses 8 and 9, “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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Notice what it says in the last part of this passage: “the God of peace will be with you.” Paul isn’t just promising that we will have peace when we focus on things that are true and honorable and lovely, etc; he promises that we will have the truest and most honorable and lovely thing of all: God Himself. When we train our minds to think on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise, we shouldn’t be surprised when the object of our thoughts becomes the One who exhibits all of these traits with perfection. The more I turn my thoughts to Christ, the greater my love for Him and the smaller my problems. Does this mean I can just think away my depression? How I wish it were so! But what it does mean is that I have control over my thoughts. I can take my thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. If I’m honest, I spend more time wallowing in my misery than taking my thoughts captive. And when I don’t take them captive, my thoughts don’t turn naturally to positive things; instead they turn to lies and despair, my old familiar companions.

When I was at Timberline Knolls, I went to a few group therapy sessions that were specifically designed for Christians. One particular group talked about using Scripture, worship music, and journal writing as ways to cope with our difficult life circumstances. One day during this group we were instructed to list lies we believed about ourselves. “Well, this should be easy,” I thought to myself, and it was. I was able to easily identify a long list of lies I frequently tell myself. Even knowing they were lies apparently didn’t stop me from repeating them to myself over and over as if they were the truth. Here are some of the lies I wrote down:

  1. I am unlovable.
  2. I am not enough.
  3. I have to earn God’s love.
  4. Being needy is a weakness.
  5. My depression is impossible to overcome.
  6. I can’t be at peace.
  7. Things will never get better.

Of course the therapist didn’t have us stop with identifying lies. She then instructed us to come up with truths to counter the lies. This took considerably longer than coming up with the lies, but when I realized that I could turn the lies on their head, it was easier. Here are some of the truths I wrote down:

  1. I am loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) that will never separate me from God (Romans 8:38-39).
  2. I am called and chosen and valued by God (Isaiah 43:1).
  3. I can do nothing to earn God’s love and grace. It is a free gift (Ephesians 2:4-8).
  4. Christ’s power is at work in my need and weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
  5. With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26), and in Him I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).
  6. Christ is my peace (Ephesians 2:14).
  7. My pain is temporary and will one day be replaced by eternal glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).

At a time when my mind is prone to believing the lies that come often and without warning, I need the truths of Scripture more than ever. Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving, and I had to fight to be grateful, in spite of the fact that I was surrounded by a beautiful family who loves me. But the truth about gratitude is that so often it, like love, is a choice. Even when I may not feel grateful, even when my thoughts tell me my life is not worth living, I can choose to drown out the lies with the truth and give thanks  for the blessings God has given me. I can seek the Lord and ask Him to help me be grateful and give thanks that He hears me and loves me, even at my lowest.

achievement confident free freedom

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

 

 

Friday Night Dinners

Every Friday, I get the gift of not having to prepare dinner. Instead, my family loads up in the van and journeys 10 minutes away to Stephen’s parents’ house. They moved to Jackson this past spring, and it has been such a blessing having them here. They lived in Illinois before this, and we only saw them a few times a year. Now we see them every week, and I’m so glad that my daughters have such great access to both sets of grandparents (my parents live an hour from us). Plus, having dinner with them on Friday nights makes me feel a little like a Gilmore Girl, except without all the dysfunction. 🙂

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Books are tasty. 

She Likes Smiling; Smiling’s Her Favorite

As I’ve mentioned previously, Ava is not the greatest of sleepers. For example, I think today she took 3 naps of about 30 minutes each, which is definitely better than nothing, but it does make it hard to accomplish any sort of prolonged task. However, what Ava lacks in the sleep department, she more than makes up for it in the smile department. I may be biased, but her smile is radiant and completely infectious. Just look:

Even if I am exhausted and undone by the events of the day, seeing her smile makes me smile. There is nothing better than seeing that open-mouthed grin first thing in the morning and last thing at night. So while she may not be overly fond of sleeping, I’m forever thankful that smiling is her favorite.

 

Walking in Memphis

Today I’m so thankful that I got to go on a field trip with Charlotte’s class. This was something I was not able to do at all last year because I was working full time, so I was glad to have the chance this year. The students traveled to the Orpheum Theater in Memphis for a performance called “Red and Green” by a group of artists known as Rhythmic Circus. The show involved tap dancing and beatboxing and live music. The best part was that Charlotte wanted to sit by me. 🙂

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Grainy Orpheum pic

And I wouldn’t have been able to go at all were it not for my wonderful in-laws, who watched Ava for me. They moved to Jackson back in the spring, and it has been wonderful for all of us to have them in town! I’m so glad that Charlotte and Ava will be so close to both sets of grandparents as they grow up. We are blessed indeed.

I’m also thankful for the fact that thanks to one of the teachers at the school, I was prevented from driving to Memphis on a very low front tire. The teacher noticed the tire when I dropped off Charlotte, so I was able to go immediately to a gas station to put air in it. Then a friend of mine helped secure me a ride to Memphis with her and another mom, and my father-in-law came and took my van to a tire shop and got it fixed while I was in Memphis, so it was ready and waiting for me when we got back! God was definitely watching out for me today.