Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Battling Thoughts

Battling unworthy thoughts is a constant battle for me and I feel like it is no accident that this topic came up when it did because I'm right smack in the middle of one of my cycles in which I am constantly battling where my mind wanders.  So I am counting the prompting to research and write about this as a tender mercy to help myself as I also may help some of you.

Sometimes we have thoughts fly around our head and we have no idea where they come from.  Or, we find ourselves down the path of some elaborate fantasy in our head and when we finally come to our senses we wonder how the heck we got there.  Our thoughts sometimes have so much power over us that we wonder how we can ever escape them.

One scripture that continually brings me hope and direction on this topic is:

Proverbs 16:3
 "Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established."
This scripture teaches us that as long as we place our feet on the correct path that our minds will follow.  Along this path our minds may be catching quick glances to our right or left, or even behind us; longing for things we are leaving behind, but it doesn't negate the fact that we are still walking along the path of righteousness. 

It is important for us to remember that it us not the thought itself that is the sin, for we cannot always control what pops in our head.  The sin comes when we choose to entertain the negative thought.  Entertaining our thoughts is like inviting them in to our homes (minds) and asking them to stay for dinner (feeding on our virtue).

President Jeffrey R. Holland sums it up perfectly:

Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul

"Like thieves in the night, unwelcome thoughts can and do seek entrance to our minds. But we don’t have to throw open the door, serve them tea and crumpets, and then tell them where the silverware is kept! Throw the rascals out!"
Think of it as a thought knocking on the door to our house.  We can't see who is at the door so we walk over and open it.  To our surprise we have an unwelcome guest standing before us.  The thought can knock on our door and we may graciously open it without knowing who is there but that is as far as it goes with little to no accountability on our part.  It is at this very crucial moment that we should deny that thought access to our home, to our sanctuary, to our refuge; the moment in which we become aware of that thought, or fantasy.  The moment we become aware of where our mind is, or what we are inviting into our mind is the moment when accountability begins.  The good news is if we shut the door on that thought enough times, it will eventually come to learn that it is not welcome, or no longer welcome, in our home.  We will eventually grow less trusting of our own thoughts and learn to peer through the peep hole prior to opening the door while asking who is there.  Then we will eventually come to recognize the very personal knock of that thought and not answer the door at all.  Finally, we will eventually come to know with the sweet protective whisperings of the Holy Ghost the presence of that thought before it even approaches our doorstep and through the help of that same Spirit can shine our resilient armor of God and banish that thought with firmness unwavering from ever entering our presence again.  Admittedly I am not there yet.  Most of the time I simply recognize the knock and don't answer but there are still times when I open that door and stare at that thought long and hard debating whether or not to let it in.  I have a long way to go on the path of mastering my thoughts but I know that through practice I can and will be free from them eventually.

The adversary may get sneaky and use tactical warfare to bring unwanted thoughts to our mind but there are also very specific things we can do to counteract those advances.  The most important thing is to immediately pray.  It doesn't matter where we are or who we are with.  If circumstance permits we should drop to our knees, but if it doesn't, we should simply go with the flow and say a silent prayer in our minds.  We should plead for strength to resist the thought and pray for help to forget it.  Another important thing we can do to help us get out of the cloud of funky thoughts is listen to good uplifting music.  I don't mean music that at the bare minimum doesn't offend the Spirit, but I mean music that actually invites the spirit.  Music that is like fish food... in that as soon as it's turned on the Spirit flocks to it like fish to it's food; almost instantaneously.  When a resting place is created for the Spirit to dwell in thickness it becomes a hyperbaric chamber of sorts for our Soul.  We cannot help but surrender to the healing, cleansing and replenishing power of the Savior.

We may at times grow weary of battling our thoughts, I know I do.  But in the end, I would much rather be weary of battling my thoughts than weary of giving in to my thoughts.  I am a warrior on the battle front and I am grateful to be exhausted at the end of the day from a long day of fighting for my eternal freedom; from a long day of fighting to get home.

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Ezekiel 34:11-12,16

"For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick"