By: Ginger Ciminello
Have you recently stopped to consider the conversation that plays in your mind on a regular basis?
I have Psalm 139 taped to the inside of my shower. I decided to memorize the whole chapter a few years ago. I typed out the words, printed them, and then used a piece of contact paper to make my poster waterproof. As someone who struggles with anxiety, I need to come face to face with encouragement in the first moments of my day. I slowly read each verse and let the words speak to my heart. I repeat the words King David penned so long ago.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (Psalm 139:23, NIV)
David is requesting for God to examine his every meditation. Every time I recite the verse in the shower or even as I clean the kitchen, I’m asking for the same thing. I desire that my Heavenly Father would sift through all the words in my heart and mind. That’s only slightly nerve-wracking, right?
This week I have conducted a small experiment. I have tried to record or consciously take note of the thoughts that run through my head and heart.
I’m going to challenge you to join me. Pull out a piece of paper and write out the phrases you most often speak to your soul.
Here’s a short sampling from mine: You could do this better. There’s so much to do. Try harder. You should be more prepared. You should be a better friend. You are going to be an emotional train wreck. Be afraid. You are not enough.
I realize that I’m fairly sarcastic in my thought life, and more than anything, the voice inside is pushing to do more, be more, try more, or simply feel more guilt. (GAH. Haven’t I conquered this area of struggle before?) I feel as though I’ve made real progress in the past year to move beyond performance evaluation and into nurturing my soul. I know the truth I should cling to, the soundtrack that would energize and encourage me, and yet I keep pulling out an old cassette tape that should have been trashed years ago. I don’t want the thoughts in my brain to work like an involuntary muscle, and that’s why meditation must come into play.
There’s a reason why God gave commands to His people and then challenged them to live them throughout the day. He longs for our hearts to be encouraged!
“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NLT
So often my reading in the morning can stay just that: reading in the morning. If I don’t make an effort to latch onto a phrase, thought, point, word, or verse, my involuntary muscle kicks in. That’s why memorizing a huge chunk of scripture has been such a blessing. Sometimes when I wake my brain is looping some catchy Taylor Swift lyrics, or I start in on the to-do lists, or more often then not, I settle in on the worries and anxieties of my day. But I know that I need to shut all of that down if I ever want to get back to sleep at 3:20am. Reciting Psalm 139 in my head or praying have become the go-to meditations. The encouragement of God’s Word is peaceful, comforting, and beneficial.
Meditating has become the way that I let the truth work through my heart and mind. Meditating changes the loop playing in my head and redirects my thoughts toward what is excellent and praiseworthy.
So that’s my challenge for all of us today. Consider your tape, and ditch it if it needs to go. Make the Word part of your day. Talk about it with your friends. Look at it on your mirror. Write it on your hand. Tape it on your window frame… meditate on it day and night.