May 06, 2019 | Articles by Rev. David Bodanza
Have you ever thought about what you are thinking about? What's on your mind? This week, our two friends meet up over a cup of hot coffee and talk about life --- a subject that many avoid. The names have been changed to protect the hurting. It went somewhere something like this:
BRITTANY: What is happening with you? You don't look so well...
ALICIA: I'm depressed. Really depressed.
BRITTANY: Do you know why?
ALICIA: I went to my doctor. He says it's not bio-chemical. It's situational.
BRITTANY: So then, what's troubling you?
ALICIA: You know my dad was an alcoholic.
BRITTANY: Yes, you mentioned that before.
ALICIA: And he was very mean to my mom, and us kids.
BRITTANY: Did he abuse you?
ALICIA: Only verbally, but he sure could spank his kids. He was terrible with my mom, though.
BRITTANY: How so?
ALICIA: He used to constantly put her down. He said she was stupid and that she spent too much money on things. I mean, she was just trying to keep the family fed.
BRITTANY: How did your mom endure that?
ALICIA: Not very well. She would cry all the time. I remember her softly crying, always. I was too afraid to ask her about it, but I knew why without asking. It was just one of those things. This was the way it was, and I was just a kid. We didn't know what would happen.
BRITTANY: Were you afraid of your dad?
ALICIA: Yes, definitely. But you know, it's kind of strange. I loved him. I mean, he was my dad. I didn't like what he did to my mom, or us. He constantly put us kids down. I grew up thinking that I was a failure. All I wanted was him just to love me...to hold me. But it never happened. I think I started dating guys at 15 just to get some attention, and some love. I had a daddy deficit.
BRITTANY: Is he still alive?
ALICIA: No, he died some years ago. Britt, I know that was then and this is now ...
BRITTANY: And that the past has passed.
ALICIA: Yeah, but the past constantly comes back to haunt me.
BRITTANY: Are you a Christian?
ALICIA: Well, yeah. I believe in God and in Jesus. I pray. I haven't gone to church in a long time. I'm kind of scared to go.
ALICIA: I don't know if they would accept me there. I'm such a failure.
BRITTANY: Alicia, they are hurting people, too. I'm sure they would love to help you, to comfort you with the same comfort they received from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-6) Do you read the Bible?
ALICIA: No, I don't. I have an old one somewhere but I never even opened it. I can't even tell you why.
BRITTANY: They used to say, "Sin will keep you from the Book, and the Book will keep you from sin."
ALICIA: That sounds about right.
BRITTANY: What is on your mind?
ALICIA: Huh? I'm telling you!
BRITTANY: No, what I mean is, have you thought about what you're thinking about? Have you examined the recurrent thoughts that you are thinking?
ALICIA: Britt, that is pretty deep. No, I never even considered that. I'm just lost in my own feelings.
BRITTANY: As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV) "For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45b) Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny." There are repeating thought patterns which, if neglected, will become the dominating argument of a person’s mind, to the point where you become what you keep thinking you are. The Bible warns, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4:23)
ALICIA: What do you mean?
BRITTANY: We must exercise self-control in our thinking. We are not bound to entertain every thought that pops into our minds or the pattern of thoughts that plague us like a broken record.
ALICIA: What do you mean by "a broken record?"
BRITTANY: Back in the day, when people listened to music on vinyl records, sometimes the needle would get stuck and the record would keep repeating a small section of the song. It was enough to drive you nuts.
ALICIA: Got it. I know exactly what you mean. The same sad song keeps playing in my head every day. I'm nothing. I'm no good. It's especially tough at night.
BRITTANY: Listen to what the Bible says, "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 10:4-5) When we truly come to Christ, we are given knowledge of God and the supernatural power to demolish those recurrent thought patterns that have enslaved us. Our minds are renewed and our thinking is transformed. (Romans 12:2) More and more, we think holy thoughts informed by the eternal truth of the word of God rather than the degrading lies of godlessness.
BRITTANY: I like the way theologian D.A. Carson explains it, our "mental structures, the plans and schemes, are taken over and transformed as [we] come to a new allegiance” to the God who made us and loves us away from the devil who hates us and seeks to destroy us! God sets us free from the degrading sins that plague generations of people!
ALICIA: I think you are on to something. People all over are sinking down in depression. They're hurting 'cause they had a rough upbringing by parents that were abusive alcoholics. And you know why their parents were like that? 'Cause they're parents' parents were like that. The cycle just repeats itself. What do we do?
BRITTANY: We need God. The psalmist wrote, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24) The Bible says to the Christian: You are "to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-23)
ALICIA: I never heard this before.
BRITTANY: Alicia, there is a relentless spiritual battle going on in the world right now for the hearts and minds and souls of people. You will either be a conqueror or a casualty.
ALICIA: What do I do?
BRITTANY: You need a physician, a hospital and some medicine.
ALICIA: I told you that I already saw my doctor.
BRITTANY: Sorry, I was speaking figuratively. You need Jesus, the Great Physician, a church where the Bible is preached (a hospital) and the Bible (the medicine of the soul).