How do you feel about YouTube? Personally I am a big fan. I do not spend much time watching TV and I may be the only millennial in America that has never watched a Netflix series, but when it comes to the entertainment space, YouTube is my spot. There is this beautiful thing called the ‘suggested video’ section that just reads my mind and always has a great suggestion. Recently I had a bit of time to kill so I jumped online and started watching a video.
A fitness video led to an interview.
That interview led to a day-in-the-life video.
That day-in-the-life video led to a nutrition video.
Nutrition led to agriculture.
Agriculture led to farming.
Farming led to animal videos.
Animal videos led to videos in Africa.
And before I knew it I was watching a gazelle drink water from a body of water in Africa as a female lioness stalked its prey. After a bit of time, I will spare myself the embarrassment of sharing how long I was in the wormhole, I looked up from my screen and asked myself… “How the heck did I get here?”
After back tracking my steps I was amazed at the ease of mindless progression in our lives. And as I examine the thought patterns that I’ve found present in my own mind and the mind of many that I love, I believe that many of us have found ourselves in a similar situation. Not with YouTube… but with something much more precious.. our lives, our minds, and our purpose.
I’ve met many people and had many conversations that involved phrases like the ones below:
“I just don’t understand how I ended up here.”
“When did I become this way?”
“How did this happen to me?”
And more often than not the answer is slowly and gradually. CS Lewis says it best in his book The Screwtape Letters:
It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.
Terrifying isn’t it? That we could be on the gradual road to Hell, being pacified by daily distraction as each day we inch further and further from the truth and call that God has on our lives. Only to look up 20 or 30 years from now exclaiming… HOW DID I GET HERE?!
How does this happen? Well history does us a favor here. If we look back at nearly every war, battle, or altercation that has ever been fought, a large majority of them have been fought over real estate… territory if you will. And the war for our minds and our hearts is exactly that… an all out war for territory.
You see what happens is if the enemy controls your thoughts, he controls your life. Everything you do for the entirety of your life will start in your mind. There is a continuum that proves helpful here.
Consistent thoughts breed actions.
Consistent actions breed habits.
Consistent habits become your character.
Have you ever observed someone that grew lazy with their thoughts? Allowing themselves to believe anything that called itself “truth” and riding the cultural waves of false absolutes. Sooner or later their actions change course. Then not too long after they’ve developed habits and those very habits are the mortar that seals their foundation of character.
The battle was lost in their mind, but manifested itself through action, habit, and character. Your life moves in the direction of your strongest thoughts. So how do we win the battle?
Believe it or not, God knew that this was a battle we would face. Which is why he riddled the scriptures with wisdom centered around the direction of our thoughts and our mind (see Colossians 3:2, Philippians 4:8, and Romans 12:2.)
All of these scriptures set our aim and show us where to focus, but the text I want to anchor us in here is 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, which reads:
Too many of us let the lies of the enemy trump the truth of the promise. We hinge our lives on those lies and begin to believe they are true. Those thoughts create actions, actions create habits, and our habits become our character.
Have you found yourself with an attitude and character of shame? What thoughts led you there?
Has your character been pointing to doubt? How did you get there?
Have you been crippled by anxiety and riddled with your own inadequacy? I have and the most helpful tool I have found is captivating my thoughts and telling them what is true. Not allowing them to breed past the thought stage. It is much easier to uproot the weeds of thought than the oak of character.
Knowledge without practical application is useless, so here is your focus for the weeks, months, and years to come to wage war on your shame, inadequacy, anxiety, and the fluid truths that society tells you are objective.
- Captivate every thought. For the next week captivate every thought that comes into your mind. Where did it come from? Is it rooted in truth? Where will it lead? Is it of God, or a convenient distortion?
- Equip Yourself. Stop going to battle day in and day our without your weapons. How can we know what is true if we have spent zero time this week diving into the truth of the Bible? How can we hear God in the chaos when never seek his voice in silence? How can we stand on truth if we don’t know what truth is? The easiest truth to distort is the one that you do not know exists.
- Tell yourself the truth. Many thoughts are distortions of truth. Know what is true and speak it over your life daily through the Word and prayer. Don’t let your thoughts rule you. Take your thoughts, inform them with truth, and tell them where to go.
Truth is you are a beloved child of the one true King. Who loves you enough to have given you wisdom that has been preserved despite persecution from every era. Who has given you a direct line to Him to cast your anxiety [Phil 4:6-7], to ask for wisdom [James 1:5], and to rest your weary soul [Matthew 11:28-30]. Fight the battles of this life by His design and with His power. Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Him, and watch as the character He created you for flourishes within you.
Quinn Rivera // Humbled Daily Co-founder, doctor in training and aspiring professional lover of life.