No matter what I did, worry wouldn’t leave me alone. Prayer. Mediation. Mindfulness. Even gardening didn’t stop it from tormenting me. “You’re a thief, worry, robbing me of my peace,” I said.
“I know,” worry replied, and grinned, happy with itself.
Hmmm, I thought. If I give everything to God, there won’t be anything for worry to take. “I give everything to you, God,” I prayed.
“You’re no fun,” worry shouted, and stormed off, “But I’ll be back!”
“I’m sure you’ll try,” I said and smiled, knowing that I had nothing to worry about.
“…think on these things.”
A garbage truck rumbled noisily past my cottage, rousing me from my slumber. I stretched and yawned, not quite eager to start the day. Outside, the birds began their morning songs but their sweet sounds didn’t fill my heart. I was too preoccupied with worry about my very pregnant daughter. “What if…” I filled in the blank with one frightening thought after another.
“Those thoughts are just stories, generated from your overactive nervous system,” God whispered to me. “They aren’t true.”
“They feel true,” I answered. I pushed back the covers and sat up on the edge of the bed. “They make me feel so scared and helpless.”
God reached out His hand and helped me off the bed. “Fear not,” He said and walked with me into the kitchen. “I’m always with you, and I am with your daughter and her uborn child.”
“What can I do to stop the negative storytelling?” I asked.
“Think on love. On me,” God said as I poured myself a cup of tea. I sat down by the open window and listened again to the birds. I heard God’s morning story in their songs—”All is well, all is well,” they sang to me.
And so it is.
Take every thought captive to obey God.
~2 Corinthians 10:5
It was a particularly challenging afternoon and I started going down the list of worries I’d been brewing in my mind. About halfway down the list, God rested His hand on my shoulder and said, “You may want to consider being a cowgirl.
“I’m sorry. What?”
“A cowgirl,” He said again.
“Why on earth would I want to be a cowgirl?” I asked. My voice was a bit snappish.
God patted my shoulder. “Take a breath then exhale slowly. That will help you return you to center. Then imagine yourself lassoing those wild thoughts of yours, you know, the ones that are stampeding all over your serenity, and bring them back into the fold.”
“Oh. I get it,” I said. “That’s sorta cute, God.”
“Thanks, I do my best. Look, the way I see it, your negative thoughts are either going to take you captive, or you’re going to take them captive,” He said slowly, doing His best Sam Elliot impression.
I smiled. “You’re right. My thoughts were getting the best of me.”
“Rope em,” He said as He pretended to twirl a lasso over His head.
I laughed. “Okay. Okay. I’ll get control over them right now.”
“Good. Think something positive,” God suggested.
“I’ll think about how grateful I am that you love me enough to want to help me guide my thoughts.”
“That’s a good start there, Cowpoke,” He said and He tossed His imaginary lasso over my head.
“You got me, Partner,” I said and leaned in toward Him.
“Yup. You’re mine alright,” He said with a smile. I stopped going down my list of worries and decided instead to think about all of my blessings. I rode high in the saddle the rest of the day.
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”
“I’m so stupid!” I smacked my hand to my forehead. “How did I make that mistake?” I shook my head and sighed. I had a busy day ahead. My mistake would add a good hour to my workload. I went for my morning walk, but it didn’t help my mood. I couldn’t enjoy the birds singing, or the gentle breeze.
“Are you going to beat yourself up all day?” God asked me just as I was turning the corner towards home.
“I made a stupid mistake. I’m so dumb!” I said.
“Be careful with your words, Sparrow. They create your reality,” God said kindly. “You are what you think you are.”
I walked up the steps to my house. I thought to myself, I’m human. I’m fallible. It’s okay because I am a child of the living God who adores me. With that thought, my mood brightened. As I opened the door, I could hear the finches at the bird feeder singing. I could feel the gentle breeze ruffling my hair. “I’ll do my best to remember that I am as I think I am. I’ll think good thoughts!”
“Atta girl,” God whispered in my ear, a verbal divine fistbump. I grinned from ear to ear as I got ready to go to work feeling happy and capable.
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
I was just about to turn off the lights and settle down for the night when a nagging thought popped into my mind. I did my best to push it aside, but it insisted on staying. I pulled the covers up and snuggled down into the soft warmth of the blankets, determined not to let the thought ruin my bedtime. I tossed and turned, trying my best to fall asleep. No matter what I did, the thought kept me awake.
“God, I’m stuck in my head tonight and I need some help,” I prayed.
“Count your blessings and give thanks,” God whispered.
One by one, I said them out loud, filling my dark room with the higher vibration of gratitude and love. My nagging thought that was so insistent faded away. In its place were thoughts of all the I love and the things I love the most. I pressed them to my heart, turned over, and fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.
What we focus our thoughts on determines the quality of our lives (and apparently, our sleep!). Think good thoughts.
“…and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
~2 Corinthians 10:5
When I was twelve-years-old, my family went on a two-week vacation “out west.” I’ll never forget seeing my first real cowboy. He sat high in the saddle, twirling a lasso above his head. I watched the rope spin in graceful, controlled circles. With the elegance of a ballerina, he threw the rope towards a calf running away from the herd and lassoed it. It seemed like magic; the ability to single out an animal in a herd, capture it, and bring it back to where it needed to be.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all be cowboys and cowgirls? We could lasso those thoughts of ours that are unruly, you know, the ones fueled by fear, and we could bring them back into the fold. We wouldn’t let them stir up the rest of our thoughts, and create a stampede of negativity. We’d single out the negative thoughts and take them captive, instead of letting them take us captive.
Unless we take control of our thoughts, we won’t be able to love or forgive. We won’t be able to obey God. If we let our thoughts have their way they will tell us negative—even catastrophic stories—and we will believe them!
Today, I hope you’ll join me in being a “thought cowgirl” or “thought cowboy.” Let’s lasso our negative thoughts and bring them back into the fold of love and peace. Let’s make sure that our every thought is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). Let’s take every thought captive so that we can obey Christ. Let’s take every thought captive so that we can love as He commanded.