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Monday, July 30, 2018

Your Self-talk Matters

What you tell yourself is important. I'm not talking about the woman who's walking along answering her own questions, aloud, in the grocery store. (Don't laugh; I've actually caught myself doing this more than once. "What do I need?" "Oh yes, some lettuce would be good.") Thankfully, I don't think anyone saw me or cared, if they did. At least I didn't notice anyone rolling her eyes!

What I'm talking about is self-talk: what you think about and dwell on. Let me give you some examples.

In the family:
  • You're thinking about something dumb your husband just did. You think he was really stupid. Why didn't he know better? He didn't even think how his actions would affect you. He certainly wasn't loving you when he did that. Your thinking spirals downwards. The second time your husband does something dumb, your negative thinking about him gets piled on top of the first dumb-thing reaction, and you begin to be bitter. Your husband is no longer your friend and partner but the enemy. OR You notice your husband does something dumb, and you remind yourself that sometimes you do dumb things, too. You don't hold it against him, but you renew your love for him in your mind: even though hubby was dumb, I love and respect him. You laugh. He doesn't do many dumb things like that. You give God thanks for a good man who loves you.
  • Your kids are loud and messy. You are on their case day and night. You might even scream at them. Pretty soon, you are resentful. These kids! What pills! OR Your kids are loud and messy, and you pick up one of their favorite books, put one child on either side of you and the baby on your lap, and you calmly read—with different voices for the characters—about Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh. The children quiet down and listen. Baby falls asleep, a cuddly little warm person, on your lap. You are loving them and loving being a mother.
  • Your in-laws are impossible. How did you end up with parents-in-law like them? You begin to enumerate their faults in your mind. Actually, you can hardly stand being around your husband's family, especially his parents. You begin to avoid them. OR Your in-laws are indeed difficult, but they are your hubby's parents and you determine to honor them and love them, as Jesus would want you to. Therefore, when their faults pop into your head, what do you do? You dismiss those thoughts and replace them with pleasant memories and what they did to rear your hubby. You begin to praise God for them—and for their son, whom you love.

At work:
  • The conditions you work in are not to your liking. You only accepted this job because it's what you could get. You don't like the grease, the smell of chicken, you despise deep-fried anything, and you hate that the floor gets slippery. OR You can be consciously thankful for having a job, for being able to pay your rent, and for having Sundays off.
  • Your boss is impossible! Seriously, what a grouch and slave driver! Anytime he walks around the corner, he's telling someone to hurry it up. OR Your boss is indeed a sourpuss, but you decide you're going to work as unto the Lord, to the best of your ability. You will treat him with respect, because he's the boss, and you'll even try to befriend him and do nice things for him—without his asking.
  • Your co-workers are lazy boors. They move like snails, are sloppy, and you'd swear they'd never chopped lettuce in their lives before. Their language is a tad colorful, and they have no manners. They don't like you, either. OR Even though you work with people who have less skill than you, you determine to treat them like royalty. You'll help them out, take up the slack, be kind, and encourage them. You want them to become friends. After all, you work together. You need to be a team. Maybe, you could even interest them in your Lord.

Your self-talk matters. It's biblical to exchange negative thoughts for good ones and to be thankful instead of sinful. It's also right to be kind and friendly.

Here's perhaps the best verse in the Bible about positive thoughts instead of negative thinking: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8).

Here are a few more:
  • A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).
  • And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).
  • And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks (Ephesians 5:2-4).
  • Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).

When we change our self-talk we actually change our attitude. Then, our actions are more Christ-like, and our relationships improve. Thankfulness is an antidote for many sins. (See the Ephesians 5 passage, above.)

I regularly need to remind myself how to think rightly. How about you? How's your self-talk today?

And remember, don't walk down the aisle in the supermarket talking out loud—unless no one's looking!

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