"She thinks of him thinking of her and that was her salvation."
A few years ago I stumbled upon this quote during my weekly almost-sacred rhythms of unwinding on Tumblr. I can’t remember who wrote these weighty words or what the context was (probably was from a romantic novel) but this quote left an imprint. While our salvation with regards to Christianity faith is based on our confession and faith in Christ and what He accomplished on the cross, these words have often pierced me. They have saved me in the middle of the war within. If salvation by definition is the preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss, then we are saved from harming ourselves with the thoughts we think about ourselves, the words we speak about ourselves and the actions we take against ourselves based on these thoughts.
Earlier this month during our discipleship session with the teenage girls we get to walk alongside, we each wrote down the most common thoughts that the enemy echoed in our heads about ourselves. We gathered the anonymous little pieces of paper and read each of them out loud. The young ladies shared their battles with not feeling smart enough, beautiful enough, attractive enough and feeling like they were a mistake, have no purpose etc. It was both heart wrenching and heart warming as we realized in that classroom that we were not alone in our mental and emotional battles.
"That I'm unworthy and unlovable." "That there is no place for me and I am not wanted." "That God made a mistake in how He made me." "That I am not worthy of unconditional love and I have to fight to perform and if I make a mistake I go back to my default of being unlovable."
That was the list I vulnerably shared from my own thought life with the young ladies as an older sister who was also still trying to figure things out. My thought life has been such an area of battle ever since I was young. My bookshelf itself could testify about this with titles like Because He Loves Me, Preach to Yourself: When Your Inner Critic Comes Calling, Talk Back with Truth and The Voices We Carry nestled amongst other books that have been guides to help me navigate my thoughts about myself, my failures and my weaknesses.
More than any of these books or any other self help book could ever be, the Bible, this Spirit-breathed, inspired word of God has to ultimately inform our thought life. All through Scripture we see God's thoughts and actions toward His people in both good and bad times. Scripture alone arms us with a powerful, lasting sword to wield in the middle of our self-hate battles and our bouts with criticism.
In the Psalms, we see this at work, with David saying, "I remember.......I meditate.......I ponder........" in Psalm 143 and in Psalm 77, "I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart." Then my spirit made a diligent search..." Verse 11 goes on to say, "I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.
These are word of God must inform my thought life. I have actively needed to redirect my thoughts with scripture and remind myself of Truth when lies are about to lead me down the spiral. On some days, I catch these lies early before a full on spiral occurs. On other days, I spiral all the way down and serve up a mug of melancholy to whoever chooses to accept my pity party invite for that day.
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
Paul charged the church at Corinth to take captive every thought. Every. Single. One. Making each one obedient to Christ. I'm still learning the art of taking every thought captive. I'm still learning to sing over myself the words of the God of all creation louder than the song of the enemy of my soul. I'm still learning that with every thought from the enemy I take captive, I must release the thoughts and sentiments of the God that created the whole universe. The God that created me.
I think of Him praying for me and it sets me free. I think of Him promising to never leave me nor forsake me and it stills me. I think of Him, thinking of me, loving me, dying for me and it saves me.
It saves me when the enemy works overtime to convince me that I’m unseen, forgotten, unloved, broken or unlovable. It calls a ceasefire on my soul from when I’ve corroborated with the enemy against myself to echo the words of others over myself that are not God’s words over me.
All through scripture we see God's heart and sentiments towards His creation. We think about the reality of who He is in the middle of where we are.
When we feel unknown and question how He made us, we remember the grand Creator who knit us in our mother's wombs. He who formed us in a secret place before anyone ever saw us. The masterful Potter who intricately molded us and who knows even the very number of hairs on our heads.
When we feel forgotten and unseen, we remember El Roi, the God who not just sees the world but who sees us right where we are. In our joy, pain, fears, triumphs and struggles.
When we feel alone, we remember Emmanuel, God with us. The God who clothed himself in flesh to be with those He had made. The God who gave us His spirit to dwell in us as we believe that we may never be alone. The God who puts the lonely in family.
When we feel heartbroken and shattered, we remember the God who bends down to listen to our cries, who collects our tears in a jar and who keeps track of our sorrows. He who heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.
When we feel like we can't get it right, keep messing up or we messed up so bad this time and that we are beyond help or restoration, we remember that He is the God who is rich in mercy, full of compassion and grace who is slow to anger, abounding in love.
When we feel like failures, or haunted or tormented by our pasts, we remember that He is a God who makes all things new. A God who heals and who uses even that which was meant for evil for good.
When we feel defeated and battle weary, we remember the God who is our shelter, our defense, our shield, our sword and our victory.
When we feel the need to perform to be loved or accepted, we remember the God not focused on outward appearance but who looks at the heart. We remember the God who doesn't need our performance and our striving in exchange of being loved by Him. We remember a God whose value of us is not based on what we do or what we can achieve.
When we feel unworthy of love, we remember the God who found us worthy enough to die for and who loved us before we could ever be anything. The God who even in our most unlovable moments, like the thief on the cross, the sinners who dined with Jesus or the woman at the well with the string of partners, found us worthy of His love in the most shame filled moments of our lives
When we feel like God will never do anything great in us and through us again and that our glory days are in the past, we remember the God who is still doing a new thing. We remember a Savior who tells His followers will do even greater works than He did. Even greater still lie ahead.
We remember these things. We take captive thoughts of defeat and release thoughts of faith and hope. We imprison thoughts of hate, darkness and lies and we make room for thoughts of love, light and Truth. We subscribe to the sentiments of our Savior and they saved us when our thoughts are about to wage war. He is every bit present with us, intentional about us and loving towards all He has made. These realities have saved me. Again and again.
So stir your mind to remember and prompt your heart to not forget;
That His thoughts towards you are loving,
That His eyes are on you,
And His ears are attentive towards you
Remember. Meditate. Ponder.