Chapter 7 moves right along to MIND OVER WHAT DOESN’T MATTER.
Why is decluttering your mind so important?
“[Jesus] answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…’” (Luke 10:27).
How can you love God with all your mind if your mind is a cluttered, stressed-out, and burdened mess? The short answer, of course, is you can’t. There is much you can do to repair this, but your mental state—an abstract, intangible part of your being—often gets relegated to the backburner, remaining unchallenged and unfixed.
Who among us doesn’t suffer from stress, anxiety, worry, mental overload, discontentment, or depression from time to time? We say no one. There is a substantial difference, though, between having a bad moment or even a bad day and drowning in a cycle of repetitive, draining mental meltdowns.
While they both deserve our attention, it’s the latter that we’re most concerned with. The world views stress as a normal part of everyday life, but then in the same breath offers dozens of pills to aid you in overcoming its incapacitating effects. “Normal” doesn’t sound so appealing!
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom. 12:2).
In this verse, Paul is referring to the renewing of our minds for Jesus Christ. He wants us to transform from the ways of the world and live for him. Consider the word “renew”, which means to reestablish, restore to freshness, and to make like new. How energizing would it be to declutter all the garbage we mentally deal with, wipe the slate clean, start fresh, and remain in that brilliance? Can you imagine this? It’s possible and we challenge you to settle for nothing less.
Tomorrow we’ll start pecking away at the hindrances we face and knock them down one by one!
We’ve already covered the physical ramifications of stress. Remember that awful list of consequences back on Day 22? Today, however, we’re talking about how stress can affect us mentally and emotionally.
Stress can breed long-term anxiety, depression, and worry. Left untreated, it can become completely debilitating and life-altering. Both of us have felt the ramifications of stress, and we’ve each had to work through a variety of difficult circumstances to come out on top. Most people would agree it’s no small task, and sometimes success is hard to come by. If you are in the middle of a stressful situation right now, you understand.
Take heart! God makes provision; he doesn’t want us carrying our burdens on our own shoulders, and implores us to give them to him. He begs us to bring our afflictions, our load, to his feet and allow him to work in our lives and carry the weight on our behalf. Psalm 68:19 assures us that the Lord “daily bears our burdens.” If he’s going to do this anyway, there is no point in carrying our own burdens as well, right?
PICTURE THIS – You’re walking next to Jesus fighting with him over your burdens. “I’ve got it, I’ve got it,” you say. “No, let me take it,” Jesus responds. You counter, “I said it’s mine; I got it covered. I want to keep my problems for myself.” “No precious child, I’m here for you. Please give me your problems and allow me to carry them for you.”
We can think of a few things that might cause us to tussle with God, but fighting over our problems isn’t one of them. Definitely not in the top ten! In this case, there’s no point being stubborn or greedy. Give it all up to him! Unfortunately, as logical as it may sound, handing your stress over to God can often prove to be a monumental task. Denial, ignorance, stubbornness, control issues, etc., are just some of the roadblocks that can trip you up and thwart your reliance on him.
We challenge you to PRAY, HAVE FAITH, AND RELEASE! Give it a try. All you have to lose is your stress!!
Aside from stress, there are other emotions that can clutter your mind and hinder you as well. Do anger or jealousy grip your life? Are you one to hold grudges or bathe in resentment? These feelings and behaviors permeate your being with bitterness and hatefulness that swallow up any chance you might have for a healthy, happy existence. We often mistake holding on to hurt as a shield of vindication, but this is severely misguided. Instead of being protected behind our armor, we end up being bound to the pain by perpetuating the hurt in our lives. It’s a double-edged sword. Not only do we take our pain out on our offender, but we are miserable ourselves.
Forgiveness is a huge part of the equation and one of the most difficult sentiments to master.
We, in all our humanness, have hearts that love and feel deeply, but when we are hurt, these wounds run just as deep. Our pastor spoke on forgiving recently and shared a profoundly impactful point. When we forgive someone as God calls us to do, we ARE NOT implying that it was okay that we were hurt. We ARE NOT agreeing that the infraction against us was called for or deserved. We are simply trying to love others as God loves us.
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13).
Members in our small group discussed this and the consensus was that prayer is the most powerful tool we have when seeking to extend forgiveness. It can soften our heart and pave the way for healing. As Lori said, “If there is too much pain to pray for someone, then just speak (or think) their name. God will know exactly what to do with it.”
God isn’t keeping score while waiting for the worst and expecting us to fail again, but that’s exactly what we often do to our offenders. God gives us all the freedom we need to start fresh every day, even knowing that we’ll mess up time and time again. How freeing would it be to declutter your feelings of anger and bitterness, releasing not only your own heart and mind, but also that of your offender’s? Talk about paying a gift forward!
We challenge you to forgive someone today!
We’re getting down and dirty today! Do any of the following unwanted behaviors hit home?
MAKE NO MISTAKE – Ahhh, but the problem is that we do make mistakes – over and over again. Do you lament over the mess ups, bad choices, and instances where you beg God for a do-over? Do you regret actions that have brought shame, guilt, and humiliation? If you are called to forgive and forget others, don’t you suspect that God also intended that to apply to you as well? Absolutely he did!
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Forgive yourself. God is adamant about forgiving the offender, even when the one guilty of the offense is YOU!
RELEASE THE CATCH – What have you caught along life’s path that you would rather not have kept? Unlike fishing, where a decision is made almost immediately what to keep versus what to throw back, we regularly overlook the fact that we have a choice. We harbor items with hurtful memories, pictures with sad stories, and letters with cruel words. Think about your collection.
‘“Jesus replied, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God”’ (Luke 9:62). This is straight from Jesus’ mouth. We must abandon the past and focus on the future.
DIS DISCONTENTMENT – There is nothing that can inhibit us quite as much as feeling a lack of contentment. It’s like a cancer that begins without an obvious cause or provocation. One seemingly unimportant dissatisfaction breeds another and then spreads like a dreaded disease into unrelated areas of our lives. Before we know it, our entire being is consumed with disappointment and frustration.
Allowing this mindset will rob you of ever feeling total fulfillment and gratification. How can you when you’re obsessed with what you don’t have, where you don’t live, what you can’t buy, where you can’t go, and what you can’t do?
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (Prov. 14:30). Emotional discord can have serious physical consequences.
If any of these look familiar, we challenge you to take bold steps and rid your life from the bondage of these harmful types of mental clutter!
THE LIES WE ARE LED TO BELIEVE
What if you’re too caught up in your old ways to change or you don’t have the strength to make the changes you desire?
What if you are drowning in a sea of loneliness, despair, shame, misery, grief, or anger?
What do you do if you’ve isolated yourself from family and friends because you don’t want their advice or input, even though you may know you need it?
What if you’re so consumed with mind clutter that you can’t possibly see outside the mess?
It’s a catch-22 when you must see things for what they are so you can pull the trigger of action and start making them right BUT you can’t even recognize what they are to begin with? Don’t despair! You aren’t alone and there is a solution.
Satan attempts to snare all of us. He tells us lie after lie to trap us, keep us down, and bind us up in the failures of our past. He encourages us to wallow in self-pity and tells us we’re justified and strong for casting aside anyone who has caused us pain. He wants us to believe that we can’t trust or that we aren’t worth anything. The devil wants us isolated and removed because then we are easy pickings. An old pastor friend of Lindon’s calls it “devil bait”. He sets us up to reel us in.
Take heart because this is EXACTLY where the Holy Spirit shines and runs to your aid. The first step is to PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! Ask the Holy Spirit for a great reveal; for roadblocks to be known and eyes to be opened. Pray for motivation and freedom from all the ties that bind. God didn’t leave us alone to rely on our own devices. Seek him and he will surely light your way.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
Life is too short (or long) to be cluttered, unhappy, chasing the unsatisfying, and wasting time consumed by negative emotions, thoughts, and actions. Don’t settle or sell yourself short. We challenge you to invite the Holy Spirit in and start living a life filled with incomparable peace and joy. What have you got to lose? All that doesn’t matter, that’s what!
Our final week will be spent decluttering your spiritual life. Can your spirituality get cluttered with all the wrong stuff? Day 36 will answer that and more!