We can’t control every thought that comes into our minds, but we can control what we choose to do with those thoughts when they come our way. Donna Gibbs shares helpful advice from years of experience as a board certified Christian counselor on how to take destructive thoughts and replace them with the truth of God’s Word.
“I’m very, very practical about things so when I’m working with someone who is stuck and they have destructive thoughts about themselves, I will literally have them write out those familiar destructive thoughts one at a time. ”
“Pull out a piece of paper and write out, ‘I am _____. I am _____. I am _____.’ On days when you’re feeling the worst about yourself, what are the words that you think about yourself? Write them down on a piece of paper.”
But the exercise doesn’t end there. The next step is to take Scripture and compare it with the thoughts that you wrote down.
“Ephesians is a wonderful place to go for this. Paul makes so many references to us as the Body of Christ. Write out the words that Paul describes there and then measure them against one another. In those descriptions, God says that we are loved, that we are chosen, that we are His masterpiece, and those are very contradictory to destructive thoughts of shame.”
It’s important to remember that replacing thoughts about ourselves is a continual process, not a one-time event. We need to meditate on what God says about us, more than we do the destructive thoughts that try to infiltrate our minds.
“As soon as that destructive thought comes, once you have written it down and identified, you’ll start to recognize ‘that’s a destructive thought; that’s one of those things that’s keeping me stuck.’ As soon as it comes back through, at that point you just say ‘that’s just a temptation; that thought is a temptation.'”
The enemy is throwing destructive thoughts at us night and day so we need to be prepared for battle. Donna points us towards the armor of God found in Ephesians 6:10-20.
“The enemy is an accuser. The mind is his battleground and he is very, very aggressive. I talk with clients about Ephesians 6. It makes reference to our armor and the helmet of salvation, and what a fitting description because so much of the battle of being stuck is in our thoughts.”
“You’ll want to be thinking, in terms of destructive thoughts, to put your helmet on. If a thought or accusation that’s coming your way about yourself is consistent with who God says you are, then let it penetrate. But if it is not, let it bounce off that helmet like a pebble, let it hit the floor, let it go, and agree with God and who He says you are.”
Destructive thoughts keep us stuck and try to prevent us from knowing the truth about who we really are in Christ. But we have been given everything we need to protect ourselves from the schemes of the enemy and reclaim the victory in our thought life.
Donna Gibbs is a licensed counselor supervisor, a national certified counselor, and a board certified Christian counselor. A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, she is on the referral network for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuum, and FINDINGbalance. A Christian counselor since 1998, she is director of A Clear Word Counseling Center and of marriage and support ministries for Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina.