We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV
Once I learned the “antidote” to my fears (God’s perfect love-1 John 4:18) and the “key” to freedom from my stronghold of anxiety (truth-John 8:32), it was then time to get to work on building a “tool kit” in order for me to engage in the battle. Much, if not all, of the battles to be fought in the war against anxiety takes place in my mind. One of the first “tools” I needed to have in my possession is something we hear a lot about today, “mindfulness.” Simply put, I need to be aware of what going on around me and what I am feeling and thinking in any given moment. I didn’t realize just how un-mindful I was until I started paying more attention. It starts with being mindful of my circumstance and how it is making me feel. Many of us stop here and simply attempt to talk ourselves out of the emotion. That is rarely productive, and, at times, even unhealthy. We feel what we feel, period. What’s important is if, and to what point, I allow those emotions to dictate my truth and then my response. Once I am aware of my circumstance and the emotion being stirred up as a result, I then take note of the thoughts that are coming at me. Again, it’s important for me to realize the thought itself is not the problem, but how far I allow the thought to continue. As a thought comes, I take a look at it holding it up against truth, either God’s truth or truth in general. That’s where I need a second tool found in the verse above. I need to learn to “take thoughts captive.” Let me explain with a couple of examples.
In the midst of a difficult struggle or in dealing with a loss, I have “felt” as if God had left me. This “feeling” began to filter into my thoughts. By not catching it as it entered into my thought processes, it then began to mess with and cause doubt in my belief system. I began to ask the age-old question that goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, “Did God really say?” Without having a pretty good grip on God’s truth from His Word, it didn’t take long for the “feeling” to begin to dictate to my “truth” and before I realized it, I not only “felt” all alone but I started to believe I truly was. Then, I began to act on this new “truth” and pulled away from Bible reading, church, distanced myself even further from God and eventually I became quite angry with Him, all because I allowed my “feelings” to dictate my truth!
Or let’s look at a more general truth. In one of my bouts with anxiety, I had some pretty significant eating issues. One of those issues was being afraid to eat for fear of having an allergic reaction. In a matter of only a couple of weeks, I lost 20 pounds because of my fears running rampant! When presented with a strawberry, banana, or a number of other foods because there might be something in them I wasn’t aware of, I felt an immediate attack of anxiety. My “feelings” were bombarding my mind with all sorts of thoughts of allergic reactions and what might happen to me. By not holding those thoughts up against a general truth (truth being I had eaten strawberries and bananas all my life and NEVER had any issues with them or any other foods for that matter), therefore, I would not eat them or much of anything and, as a result, lost a fair amount of weight fast.
Once I became mindful of my circumstance and what was going on, I then needed to follow the directive found in the verses above about “taking thoughts captive.” I needed both of these tools working together in order for them to be effective. It’s great to be mindful of my circumstances, and even better if I am aware of how those circumstances are making me feel. I’m well on my way if I can then understand how my emotions are dictating their own “truth” to my belief system. However, if I stop there, I’ve lost the battle. I have to take it that final step and hold up my emotion-driven thoughts to truth (either God’s truth or general truth) and whatever doesn’t line up with truth gets “taken captive” and dismissed as a lie.
Being mindful and taking thoughts captive is something we can all do and benefit from. It will simply take some consistent practice before it becomes a new habit. If you are battling anxiety, or a stronghold of any kind, mindfulness and taking thoughts captive will be a necessity if you are going to win the war. Good news…Jesus already won it for you! You simply have to walk it out to grab hold of the victory for yourself!!