Early this week as I was praying, I kept hearing the words "take every thought captive"... as well as feeling His warning to continue being careful what I was allowing to come into my thought life through various forms of media.
I had an opportunity to practice "taking every thought captive" mid-week when my long term insulin had not arrived through the clinic and I was using my last pen needle. This is one of those worst case scenarios that has happened before and instead of panicking... okay, I did a little... I began bringing to mind all the times previously that God had parted the waters and brought the needed insulin to me on time.
It really is a battle of the mind, isn't it? On one hand we think of the what could happens and what ifs and find our mind going down a rabbit trail that brings fear instead of faith. When I think of taking my thoughts captive, I think of a cowboy on the back of a horse roping the vicious bull and bringing him down.
So, each time I would begin to panic, I left a message with the girl who orders the insulin and eventually wrote an email to my doctor's nurse asking for her help. It turned out to be a clerical error and my insulin is on the way. I went to the clinic and picked up two boxes of samples to use until the regular shipment arrives. (I do wish it was easier to talk to real people in person instead of leaving messages or emailing.)
I have found there is a reason so many books about our spiritual battles taking place in the mind. Honestly, sometimes I feel like those cartoons where there is an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other shoulder, except the conversation is happening in my thinking.
The little devil on one shoulder has me thinking of all the terrible things that could happen to me or my family while the angel on the other shoulder has me thinking of both Scripture and all the good things that God has done for me in the past.
Thankfully, if I am careful to take captive those thoughts right away, the faith building words win. However, if I have been filling my mind with stuff that brings about worry or fretting then I can feel the tension rising and my head beginning to ache and that nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach.
You would think after all of these years, I would learn to fill my mind with God's Truth! I am very thankful that most of the time, His Word takes root and the mental conversation ends up with life giving (and peace giving) words with equally peaceful feelings.
Something happened recently that reminded me what can happen if a person can no longer tell what thoughts in their mind are truth and what are the lies of the evil one.
I am a fan of The Judd's music. So many of the mother-daughter duo's songs were family friendly and beautiful to listen to if one is a Country fan. Although, they did very well as a cross-over duo with people who would not ordinarily listen to music by country artists.
So, I was one of their fans who were both stunned and saddened upon hearing of Naomi Judd's suicide recently. Just one day before they were going to be installed in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Although the family has been careful in what they have shared, they have talked about her battle with mental illness for a long time and her fragile state at the time of her suicide.
I have been married to someone who experiences mental illness now for decades. Although he already struggled with manic depression before our marriage, he became much worse as he grew older. Just a couple years ago, he had to spend about a week at a large VA Hospital on suicide watch.
While devastating for all of us at the time, it ended up being a very good thing as a psychiatrist who works with war veterans took his case and helped him get on a medication that helped a lot. At first my husband didn't want to try another medication, he had tried well over twenty meds in the past and some were worse than the bipolar symptoms.
His doctor told both of us that the newer medications are much better than those he tried before and thankfully, he has been much better since then. After talking to his doctor a few times by myself, we came to realize he was also suffering from PTSD. I had no idea PTSD can hit someone so long after he had served in war but it seemed to have been triggered when he started communicating with the men he had fought with in Vietnam.
I could understand a little of what Naomi Judd had experienced because I have seen someone close to me go through those same mental conversations. Someone who has a mental illness... and it is an illness no different than any other but it affects a person's mind and their thinking... cannot even begin to take every thought captive.
There is a chemical imbalance in the brain that kind of short circuits their thinking in such a way that what they believe is truth is not always reality. When medicine works, it helps those chemicals work as they should.
I have wondered since Judd's suicide if her symptoms also became worse as she grew older. My husband is older than me and he is (I think) a year younger than Judd was at the time of her death. I am certain her family will start second guessing their decisions but from what I have read, there was little they could have done differently.
When the Bible tells us to "take every thought captive", God understands the necessity of His children doing so daily. We all have those conversations in our mind. Normally, we don't even think about it. They are just there and it isn't until we feel anxiety or fear that we really notice them.
I became aware a long time ago that this necessity to take every thought captive, that battle that goes on in our mind, needs us to feed on His Word and His Truth. It is only through the truth of God's Word that we can overcome the enemy of our souls. He that is the father of all lies.
I included the story of what my husband went through as a reminder to all of us that mental illness can happen to anyone and any family. Even those who follow Christ. It is a physical illness that manifests itself in the way someone thinks and their subsequent actions.
I do hope the death of Naomi Judd will have something good come out of it and that it will begin a conversation about mental health among friends and family members where perhaps one has been hesitant to say anything.
All of us live in this fallen of worlds and none of us will be perfect until that day when He gives us our perfect bodies. So, all of us need to take every thought captive when we are becoming full of anxiety or fear. I know I do! I'm pretty certain most people have that struggle, even those of us who walk with Christ.
Sometimes I like to just day dream a little about what it will be like in Eternity. However, we are told in the Word that it is beyond anything we can ask or think. We must keep our eyes on the goal... and our minds... while we look forward to that time all will be made perfect.
If we have breath, there is a reason He has us here at this place in time.
Image: Time for Reading, Artist Judy Gibson