“We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid joy. Our inward joy does not have to reflect our outward circumstances. The pursuit of joy is a matter of choice.”
– Mary Southerland

I recently shared that quote on Facebook and had someone reply, “But how though? How can you just change your emotions?”

Maybe you’re wondering the same thing. How do you just change what you’re feeling? Is that really possible?

Well, yes. Believe it or not, you can.

It all starts with what we think. Proverbs 4:23 tells us, “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” (Good News Translation)

The average person has 48 thoughts a minute, which adds up to 70,000 thoughts in a day. And I think for moms, that might be doubled… maybe even tripled. 😉

I’ve been ministering to women long enough to know the things that often take up space inside our heads:

  • Our To-Do List
  • Comparisons
  • Fears
  • Injustices
  • Hopes
  • Dreams
  • Judgments / Criticisms
  • Unrealistic Expectations
  • Lies About Ourselves
  • Worries
  • Assumptions
  • Disappointments

I used to think my emotions were the foundation of my thoughts. I believed that what I was feeling in a moment, whether that was anger, joy disappointment, or anything else, is what ultimately led to how I responded to a situation.

But that’s not actually true. Feelings don’t cause thoughts. Thoughts cause feelings.

Here’s a chart I like to share:

Friend, if there’s one thing I could share with you today, it’s this:

We must take our thoughts captive, or our thoughts will take us captive.

What goes on in our mind is SO important. In fact, the Bible talks a whole lot about what goes on inside our head. Here are just a few examples:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” – Romans 12:2

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

What Are You Repeating to Yourself?

If you’re honest, what goes on inside your head?

Too often we repeat lies. We tell ourselves we’re not enough. No one has ever really loved us. Our spouse just doesn’t care enough. Our kids are worse than everyone else’s. And the list goes on.

But what if we chose to replace those lies with truth? Here’s what that could look like:

Lie: No one will ever love me.
Truth: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” — John 3:16 (that includes you!)

Lie: Resisting [this particular sin] is too hard. I can’t do it.
Truth: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” — Philippians 4:13

Lie: I’ve messed up too bad. I’m a failure.
Truth: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” — Romans 8:37

Take Your Thoughts Captive

When we take our thoughts captive, it simply means we gain control over what we think about ourselves and our circumstances. What we think about is crucial to who we are. Who we are is shaped moment by moment by the thoughts we choose to let into our mind and heart.

What you put in your mind has an effect on what you think. Remember those scary movies you watched as a kid? Remember how you then had nightmares? It didn’t take long to realize that the way to avoid the nightmares was to stop watching that kind of movie. God has provided a way to overcome unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, and gain the self-control you seek. It’s a matter of taking charge of your thinking – His way. That means you compare your thoughts to His Truth!

Just because a thought pops into your head doesn’t mean you have to believe it. You actually have the power to CHOOSE what you believe and what you allow into your mind. Sure, you may not be able to stop every single bad, negative, or untrue thought from popping into your mind, but you definitely don’t have to let bad thoughts live there. You have the power to kick them out!

What thoughts do you need to kick out today, and what Truth will you replace them with?

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