Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.
I don’t know about you, but my mind can be a nasty place. A place filled with judgement, criticism, and downright meanness. Sometimes it thinks the things I wouldn’t dare let come out of my mouth. It dreams up rude comebacks, ruthless digs, and hurtful putdowns.
The worst part is that most of these thoughts are aimed at myself.
How do we begin to wage a war against the lies that our mind conjures up about ourselves? Here are a few places to start.
1. Know who you are in Christ
Do you know what God says and thinks about you? Do you know what a treasure you are to Him? Do you know the lengths He has gone to in order to show His great love for you?
Get into the Word. Make knowing God’s word a priority. Spend a little bit of time each day finding those gems in Scripture that let you know your worth.
You were made in the image of God
You have been set apart
You are a child of God
You are fearfully and wonderfully made
The more we see our worth in Christ, the more valuable we realize that we are. We don’t find our self-esteem or identity in the world, we find it by knowing that we are daughters of the King.
2. Practice positive self-talk
Create a habit of thinking kind things about yourself. The Bible says we are to think about things that are true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). Any thought that we are having about ourself that does not fall into one of those categories is lie from the enemy.
Cody and I went to a post-deployment marriage conference once and the speakers talked about the “appreciation room” of the mind. They encouraged us to visit this appreciation room when we started to have negative thoughts about our spouse. I practiced this for a long time. When a thought like, “Gosh, he is being so selfish right now,” would appear, I would stop and try to list several things I appreciate about him like, “He’s an amazing father, he is supportive of me, he helps around the house, he has an honorable work ethic, he is generous…” It actually worked! I would immediately start to feel my mood change and my whole family was better off because of it.
I think this is applicable to the way we think of ourselves as well. When those negative, unkind thoughts start to creep in, stop and think about some of the things that you like about yourself. If at first, you can’t think of anything…speak out things that you wish you thought of yourself.
I am beautiful.
I am kind and generous.
I am resourceful and capable.
I am a great friend.
Get in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eyes, and speak God’s truth over your life.
3. Reframe the way you think about sin and failure
There is nothing that affects whether or not I’m thinking kind things about myself more than my past (and current!) sins and failures.
Looking back on my life, I have some dark demons that love to rise up and destroy what Christ is building in me. These reminders of my sin bring a dark cloud over my heart and tell me things like, “You’ll never have a handle on that,” “God certainly hasn’t let that one go,” “It’s only a matter of time before you slip up.”
When we allow our sins and failures to frame who we are in Christ, we are not living in true freedom.
For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Romans 6:6-7
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. Romans 6:14
Just as Paul asked in the beginning of Romans 6, does this mean that we go on sinning? Absolutely not. It is important that we recognize our sin, but we should not stay yoked to it. Through repentance and prayer we move from our sin towards Christ. Will we take a few steps backwards along the way? Probably. But persevere sweet ones. There is no better place to finish this race than at the feet of Jesus.
Find freedom in the work of the cross, leave your sin and failure in the past, and be kind to your heart.