As you begin to write the next chapter of your life, what words will you be taking from the last chapters? What words will you be eliminating and adding to your script? As I journey with people into freedom, I notice that I spend a lot of time helping people to realize the impact that their thoughts and words and labels are having on them. If you want to change your life, you must change your feeding habits. If the thoughts and words that you repeat are self-defeating, no one will want to read or to be part of your next chapter. If your words are empowering and life-giving, people will be hanging on to your next phrase. If your words just repeat what you have heard on the news, on social media, or from someone nearby, your words may be hindering more than they are helping.
Do you know how long it takes to change your focus or your thought life? One at a time. Imagine that you have a pull-string bag. Whenever you hear a negative or critical or judgmental thought from within, imagine that you set a trap and then you capture your thought in your pull-string bag. It stays in the bag until it dies from starvation, until it gets confronted by a more powerful truth, or until it gets transformed into a more positive, gracious, or loving thought. I have a friend whose passion for hunting is off the charts. He would never use this approach. His traps and guns create dead meat! Sometimes we have to get aggressive in our approach to change. If we tolerate entertaining thoughts that harm ourselves or others, then our words and behavior will be destructive.
As I reflect back at my own life, I used to be so critical of myself and of others that I was full of contempt, shame, guilt, and hatred. I remember all my years of “effort”–trying harder to get rid of all of the contamination on the inside. It was futile. I failed tremendously. I’ll never forget the day when I got purged of my sin nor will I forget the day that I got melted by Jesus’ love.
What I never expected was the Spirit-initiated process of daily sitting with God’s Word until more of my thoughts became more of His thoughts. I didn’t expect His surgical tools to cut so precisely into my thoughts, motives, desires, heart, and words. Being transformed into His likeness is a never-ending process of exchanging my images for His images. My thoughts for His thoughts. My desires for His desires. My values for His values. My words for His words.
We get way-too-attached to what doesn’t belong to us. Everything that we have has been given to us by God. Everything is meant to be surrendered and released for God to use as instruments of His love and grace with those around us. Our very lives, our families, and our friends aren’t really ours. If you truly believe that “it’s no longer I who lives, but it is Christ who lives in me,” then your attachment is not to what can be lost. Your attachment is to the One who lasts forever—Jesus Christ!
All of the other stuff that we get attached to that hinders us and those around us needs to be discarded, erased, and destroyed so that it doesn’t make its way back into the new chapters that God is writing through our lives. What’s the story that God is writing through your life? What are the words that He wants you to use to tell His story through your life? Can you put it into words? Can you put it to music, poetry, story, or art for it to be shared with others?
As we strive to become more intentional and helpful as we communicate with people, let’s be careful who and what get the attention and the glory as we are telling stories. Will we build people up or tear people down? Will our words and stories build walls or build bridges? Will we make fun of the people around us or will we encourage them? Will our stories be about what we did or about what Jesus has done for us?
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.