Breaking the Cycle of Toxic Thoughts
"This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live." Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV)
I saw the blue flashing lights in my rear view mirror, and knew it was not a good sign. A quick glance at the speedometer revealed I was going faster than intended.
I quickly began to build my case as I pulled over to the side of the road. With my two toddlers in the back seat, I was sure this would be an easy fix. After all, once the police officer heard my reasons for being distracted, he would certainly let me off the hook with a simple warning, a gentle smile and a cheerful, "Have a good day, ma’am!"
That’s not exactly how it went down.
Despite my attempts to explain, the police officer didn’t budge. It didn’t matter that I was lost in an unfamiliar section of town. It didn’t matter that my friend had just given birth to her second child, or that I’d spent hours preparing a meal for her family.
I was secretly hoping the lingering aroma of chicken fettuccini would prove my point. But despite all my good intentions and lengthy explanations, the officer proceeded with four words no one wants to hear: "License and registration, please."
Five minutes later, I was back on the road with a nasty speeding ticket sitting on my dashboard. It might as well have been a neon sign flashing the words: loser, busted, cursed.
We cried the whole way home. My kids cried because they knew Mommy was very upset. I cried — not because I was sad or embarrassed — but because I was angry.
What kind of officer gives a ticket to a good person who prepares a meal for a friend in her time of need? Sure, I was guilty of going a tad over the speed limit, but the consequences seemed harsh, and I felt completely justified.
As the day went on, my anger mounted and my invisible stress barometer climbed to new heights. I couldn’t stop thinking about our brief and aloof conversation. Over and over, I mentally replayed alternative dialogues: I should have said this … What if he’d said that? …
By the end of the day, I had a fierce headache, a knot in my stomach and a "don’t-go-near-her attitude." All the over-analyzing, replaying and mental back talk created a toxic mess in my mind and body, making an unfortunate situation worse.
My choice to speed produced the hefty consequence of a ticket and a marked driving record. But choosing to fixate my thoughts on the problem was like dousing gasoline on a tiny spark. That spark had become a consuming fire, distracting me from the real blessings God had for me that day — like the little ones in the back seat of my car and getting home safely.
In today’s key verse, Moses challenges the people of Israel to choose between life and death, a blessing and a curse. How? By choosing wisely. To love God, obey His commands and place Him above all else in their lives.
Today, we’re faced with the same challenge. Will we love God and choose His way to experience life and blessings, or will we choose our way and set ourselves up for some potentially explosive consequences?
Our words, actions and reactions are a direct result of our thought life. Left to our own sinful nature, we can easily find ourselves in a cycle of toxic thinking, choosing and reacting.
To be women who choose wisely, we have to go to the Source of all wisdom. James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you" (NIV).
Freedom doesn’t come in making our own choices. Freedom comes by seeking God’s perfect wisdom to choose wisely in every area of our lives.
Friend, where are your choices taking you today? Are your thoughts, words, actions and reactions reflecting who you are in Christ? Let’s encourage one another to choose wisely and live in the blessed freedom that God has already made available to us.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the many blessings You’ve given me today. Help me to choose wisely so I can live in freedom for Your Glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
James 1:25, "But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it — not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it — they will be blessed in what they do." (NIV)
Romans 8:6, "The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace." (NIV)
Learn to make wise choices in the midst of endless demands with Lysa TerKeurst’s book, The Best Yes.
Join Leah DiPascal on her blog today to continue this conversation of choosing wisely. She’s giving away two copies of The Best Yes so be sure to sign up here for the giveaway.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Make a list of 10 choices you’ve made this week. Place each choice in one of two columns: Wise Choices vs. Toxic Choices. Ask God for wisdom on how to move all your choices into the wise column.