A Michigan State University Program showed “a person has 80,000 thoughts a day. 90 percent of these thoughts are ones we have had before, and 80 percent of these are negative.”
The program found tools of mindfulness and positive affirmations were helpful in lowering those numbers and creating new, positive patterns of thought.
Are you shocked by that statistic? Do you think it would look different for the church? Do you think it should look different for the church?!
I wish I could say that I was shocked. But do you know what I do when I sit down to write these posts?
50 bajillion negative thoughts enter my mind. “You’re not qualified to speak on this.” “People might read into that wrong.” “That might offend this certain group of people.” It’s literally ridiculous. I’ve had years of experience in negative thinking with works-based Christianity.
Prior to beginning of my freedom journey, I didn’t think tools like this could really work. I was coming from a theological background that taught that we had little control over all of the evil that would come from us (scary, right?!). Whether it be thought, word, or deed. In my journey I’ve learned that the truth of the gospel doesn’t keep us bound and powerless, but frees and empowers us to live transformed in the likeness of Christ. So the answer is YES, this should look different in the Kingdom.
Our God is One who “calls things which do not exist as though they did.” (Romans 4:17) He did this in renaming Abram to Abraham which means “father of a multitude” even when he was 100 years old and still had no children. The promise that God had given him was now being spoken over him each time he introduced himself or his name was called. How cool is that?!
Let’s even think about what we call ourselves. Are we sinners or saints? Tell me, are we unrighteous, or the righteousness of Christ? Are we bound to sin until we die, or dead to sin and alive in Christ? Let’s speak life over ourselves by naming ourselves after the promises that God’s finished work on the cross provided.
In his book Ignite your faith in 40 days, Steve Backlund shows that “A main method of God bringing change to a situation is for one of His children to speak His promises over people and circumstances.”
We are not lying against our emotions/feelings when we speak positivity and promise into negative situations, rather than complaint or despair. Or when we declare God’s promises over our lives in spite of a currently unseen reality. Instead, we are acting in faith. And when we act in that faith, we are creating an atmosphere where God can manifest the promise.
I’ve witnessed this very thing in my healing story. As I was in the throws of a year-long battle with depression, my MIL came and spoke God’s promise of healing over me. I recognized that this was scriptural and it was God’s will to heal. As I was healed my thoughts shifted, from the problem of depression to the answer of the promise. When thoughts arose that were reminiscent of the depression, I didn’t dwell on them but rather on God’s promise and what He had done in me already.
This has also played out in my marriage. My sweet hubby was so patient and gracious with me during my period of depression. But I could not stand him. I didn’t “love” him, constantly focused on his flaws and things that he did that hurt or offended me, and had ridiculous expectations of him about which I nagged incessantly. Here’s the thing, I wasn’t looking at him as a child of God, or speaking empowering words over him, or even thinking about anything that was good about him. Had we not both had such a strong conviction against splitting up our family, we would have done it.
When God healed me though, he patiently renewed my mind and opened my eyes so that I could see Mark as He sees him. God sees him through the lens of Christ. Slowly I found myself able to speak life over him. Even when he drove me crazy. I stopped complaining about him to even my closest friends. I stopped even asking for prayer. Suddenly I was a woman with the answer rather than a problem.
I saw myself speaking love into our marriage even when I didn’t feel it. Even when Mark confessed things that previously caused me great pain, I found myself no longer being hurt by them. Instead, I found myself lovingly speaking the truth of his identity in Christ over him. Before I knew it I was even feeling the love that I had declared over our marriage. It was almost as if I had spoken it into existence. Sound familiar?!
So often we as a church have shied away from such research based personal development tools because they have the appearances of relying on self. Tell me you didn’t even slightly cringe when you read that I believe I spoke the feeling of love into existence above?
If you didn’t, great! You probably have a profound understanding of Christ’s finished work on the cross and that the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit means that we literally have the power within us to achieve these things.
If you did, what if instead of devaluing that inner strength (there by the power of God) we recognized it and celebrated it? God gets far more glory when His people actually look like Him, than when we don’t know who we are and believe we are people with problems instead of answers.
But seriously, if people can manifest a positive mindset and outcomes with research based tools, to what greater degree can we shift mindsets and outcomes by using the tools with the power of heaven behind us?! It’s so exciting to me!
Tools for Positivity
- These messages from Steve and Wendy Backlund on renewing the mind with right beliefs have been such an encouragement to me. Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light and we’ve gone and made it so heavy we can’t act under the pressure. If you don’t think you have time to sit and listen to this, you’re probably right. I don’t either, haha! But I do have time to listen to a little here and there while I’m cleaning the kitchen or doing my hair and you do too!! Trust me you will not regret it!
- Speak declarations over yourself. Steve and Wendy Backlund have quite a few books of Biblically based declarations (including the Igniting Faith in 40 Days study that I am currently doing.) I am compiling a list myself that I will link to when it is complete. But for now check out the resources below.
- Focus on what is good rather than what is bad. This doesn’t mean that we ignore things that need to be done but we recognize that as believers we are people with solutions. The Bible says that with every temptation there is a way out. (1 Cor 10:13) God is working out everything for the good of those who believe. (Romans 8:28) Jesus says “In this world there will be tribulations but do not fear, I have overcome the world”. (John 16:33) What we believe, we receive. (Matt 21:21-22) Let’s become a people of positivity as we speak these right beliefs over ourselves.
How are you developing positivity in your mindset today?