I didn’t hyperventilate.
I felt like I could have.
My body convulsed in fear. So much so, that I inadvertently woke my husband.
He asked, “Are you okay?”
I replied, “I just had a nightmare. A bad one.”
He said, “Come here.” I slid up and over into my husband’s comforting, protective arms.
Have you ever been thrust from a horrific dream – one in which the outcome had it come true would have been beyond devastating – and you woke up gasping for air?
That was me. Last week.
Honestly, I haven’t experienced a nightmare like that hairy-scary one in years. And because of the impact this dream had on my thoughts, I honestly found it difficult to shake the images for not one, not two, but for three whole days. The juxta-positional situation of pairing reality to pretense wasn’t working out so well for me. The dream wasn’t real – but its symbolic overtones had invaded and captured my imagination. I’m not very happy to say it. Yet, the truth of the matter was that the nightmare birthed three days of fearful thinking.
Thoughts do that to our minds.
When we focus our attention, intelligence, consideration and time on a particular concept, idea, belief, or way of thinking – and camp there – our minds can be imprinted. Thus, the thoughts, ideas, and even nightmares we continue to affirm, acknowledge and dwell upon not only direct our emotions but take hold of our minds.
I knew this truth.
Thus, I decided to combat the dishonest, hurtful and damaging messages that had scared me up and down and left and right.
But, I needed help.
I confess that I’m not as strong as many of you may think I am. Really.
I headed to my Bible and opened my trustworthy, encouraging and inspiring friend to its verse in Philippians:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable or praiseworthy – think about such things.
New International Version, Philippians 4:8
The word ‘think’ from this verse hails from the Greek transliterated word, logizomai. Logizomai could actually be termed ‘thought control.’ It is a living voice within the mind. Logizomai is a thinking that leads to speaking that leads to acting and ultimately leads to living out the ideas and conceptions we dwell upon in our wake-filled hours.
These logizomai are esteeming conceptions, though. They are good, good, good thoughts. We are encouraged to practice them in real life; truth, honor and nobility, righteousness, purity, love, admiration, and praise.
This living voice which dwells inside each of us has the potential to shape our attitudes and actions for not only our good, but for the good of others.
What if we did that?
What if we denied entry to every dishonest, hurtful, scary, damaging, unreliable message that sought to take hold of our minds?
What if we declared, “Your distracting, destructive taunts are not welcome here. Not now. Not ever!”
Bye Bye, worry!
Get lost, condemnation and judgment!
Ridicule, you are not welcome.
Doubt and despair, you need to go. Now.
Cheerio, suspicion and distrust.
Lingering nightmares? You can be on your way.
Instead, we dwelt upon truth, honor, righteousness, purity, love, admiration, excellence, and praise. We filled our minds with so much of this esteeming stuff that our thoughts, words, and actions spilled over into every space of our lives and more importantly into every sphere of influence.
The Message puts it this way:
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
We need more truth, more honor, more righteousness, more purity, more love, more admiration, more excellence and more praise in this world, don’t we?
What is true?
True comes from the Greek transliterated word, alethes. Alethes speaks to the eternal truth that Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Dwelling upon the truth that Jesus Christ was, and is, and will be forevermore instills hope and confidence in our minds as followers of Christ as we live this life day in and day out – along with all of its ups and downs.
What is honorable?
Honorable comes from the Greek transliterated word, semnos. Semnos is a word that invokes respect, dignity, and reverence to one and all.
What is right?
Right is from the Greek transliterated word dikaios. Dikaios are thoughts which lead to action. These are behaviors which wholly conform to the will of God and bring Him honor and praise.
What is pure?
Hagnos, the Greek transliterated word for pure, is also a word of action. It is performed in the body of Christ, for the body of Christ, by the body of Christ as we seek holiness in thought and life – together. As the saints of Christ, we understand that our thoughts, words and actions do not happen in isolation. What we think, what we say, and what we do affects others. When we remember this truth, our words and actions demonstrate intentional care, mutual respect, and transformational authenticity.
What is lovely?
Lovely emanates from the Greek transliterated word prosphiles. Prosphiles are the fond, affectionate, pleasing and loving thoughts we have for those we hold most dear. We are inspired to look beyond our current circumstances and revel in beauty, wonder, and love.
What is admirable?
Admirable thoughts come from the Greek transliterated word euphemos. Euphemos are the good accounts and the affirming reports we give about the life we are living and about the people we are living it with. We make assumptions that there are good, good, good things to share about our lives because we are experiencing the good, good, good gifts of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. We see the blessing. We speak the blessing. We live the blessing.
What is excellence?
Arete is the Greek transliterated word for excellence. According to arete, our mind gives attention to virtuous thoughts. Our words give honor to others. Our speech is gracious and affirming. Our behavior is guided by principle and values.
What is praiseworthy?
Praiseworthy comes from the Greek transliterated word epainos. Epainos are thoughts, words and actions that convey commendation and praise of the blessings in our lives, the kindness and generosity of others, and the love, grace, and mercy of God.
Am I just being Pollyanna here – or can such a living, esteem-able voice really inspire us to think, speak and act in such an incredibly uplifting way?
Why not give it a try?
Let’s make our own thought list based upon the encouragement of what is true, noble, right, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy!
Here’s my thought list for today:
What is true?
God’s amazing, consistent generous love for me, for you, and for us all.
What is noble?
I have some inspirational friends who have held their tongue and chosen to walk in wisdom despite hardship, ridicule and misunderstanding. I esteem them as noble.
What is right?
Loving others – always and everywhere. Period.
What is lovely?
I’m thinking of a friend’s beautiful, beautiful, beautiful smile – her warm spirit welcomes all. She encourages me to do the same.
What is admirable?
I am touched by my husband’s love and care of his Zimbabwean brothers and sisters – especially right now as this country’s people endure yet another difficult and faith-stretching economic situation. I admire his devotion to our dear friends.
What is excellent and praiseworthy?
My first excellent and praiseworthy thoughts center upon my children, Micah, Jake and Caleb. I am incredibly proud of the growth and maturity we are seeing in Micah as he serves with Pais Australia. Jake and Caleb continue to impress me with their growth and development as they maneuver through, around, over and under different life obstacles related to their autism. Life is not easy for them at times. Yet, Jake and Caleb continue to persevere.
So, did you witness what just happened in this blog post?
I began relating my three-day thought struggle with a despicable nightmare.
I finish my account transformed with the strengthening thoughts of truth, grace, blessing, and praise.
So, what do I want to think about? What do I want to say? How do I want to live?
Do I desire to be chained to fear and dread – or inspired by what is true, lovely, and admirable?
It’s an easy answer for me. A real no-brainer, right????
What about you?
Would you consider making your own list of what is true, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy today?
Give it a try.
See how your thoughts transform – like mine did!
Let’s think differently for the good of ourselves, for others, and for the world.
And if you have the inkling, I’d love you to share your thought list with me – all or partial – either here or on Facebook (if you are my friend, of course! 🙂 )
Note: I often use http://classic.studylight.org/ to assist me with my word studies. It’s a great resource!