by LESLIE SPEAS
Are you a hot mess? Or, maybe just a warm one? Let’s just go ahead and admit that we all have our messy moments. For me (and I think for many of us), it’s mostly things that originate in my mind that contribute to my mess. Comparison, guilt, fear, rejection, people-pleasing and materialism to name a few.
Are we born with mess? I don’t think so. In my opinion, we accumulate it as we walk through life, a little more each day. Our earthly disappointments and experiences impact who we become. We try to protect ourselves out of fear and shame, and this limits our potential. We try to avoid rejection. We try to find our worth by pleasing others. We try to achieve success according to the world’s standards. If we don’t work to declutter our mess, it will hold us back from doing what we were meant to do and being who we were meant to be.
To make matters worse, our minds tend to go to negative thoughts. Paul says, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 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 10:3-5).
Paul mentioned strongholds. What are strongholds? Dictionary.com defines a stronghold as a place where a particular cause or belief is strongly defended or upheld. In short, it is a mindset or attitude that, in most cases, contributes to our mess. There are many strongholds that we may experience including issues like those I mentioned earlier.
So, how can we overcome our negative strongholds and move towards God’s best for our lives as we enter the new year? Consider the following tips:
- Foster awareness and acknowledgment of your strongholds
As with any issue we may face, the first step to recovery is awareness and acknowledgment of the problem, and a desire to truly change. Ask God to show you your strongholds and the resulting negative thought patterns that exist in your life. Once you are conscious of these negative mindsets, you can begin to take action to overcome them.
- Fill your mind with good stuff and take out the bad stuff
The Apostle Paul challenges us to “not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:1-2). We can do that through a steady intake of God’s Word. Think about the things that you are filling your mind with – television, social media, the news, books, etc. Have you ever heard the term garbage in garbage out? If you fill your mind with garbage, the result will be garbage. Instead, fill your mind with positive thoughts and love.
- Be grateful
Humans are wired to focus on the negative. This bias is hardwired into our human nature and is designed to protect us. What is the remedy? Shifting your mind towards gratitude for what you have. Keeping a gratitude journal and recording at least three things that you are grateful can be helpful in practicing gratitude.
In conclusion, we are human and, since the dawn of our existence, have been prone to accumulate mess. However, if we nurture our relationships with God and actively work to demolish any negative strongholds that we have amassed, we can begin to realize our God-given potential and live unencumbered lives.