Port-o-potties are disgusting. For some people, one of the most anxiety filled moments in life is when you have to use one of these septic stew holders. For me, the moment I enter into one I stop breathing through my nose and begin praying there is nothing living down there. If we are not careful with our thoughts, our minds can easily become filled with disgusting, smelly, and down right disturbing contents. Like a port-o-potty, no one wants to be there, but every once in awhile, and more often than we would like, we can find ourselves trapped in the stink of our negativity, lies, cynicism, bitterness, and anxiety. How then do we get out? How do we begin to remove the septic thoughts that we can so often find ourselves engaged in?
There are a few things that can help us discern the septic thoughts and help remove our thoughts, but before we do that I want to make a disclaimer: Blogs are short writings that can’t encapsulate everything needed to be said and processed when it comes to septic thoughts. The suggestions I will give are brief and will help, but know that each one of the suggestions are a long process in which it would be unreasonable to think “just know this and you’ll be ‘cured’.” Personally, I fight these thoughts often and know that understanding steps to take doesn’t mean that septic thoughts go away. So this is a chance to recall, reaffirm, and rally around the truth.
Craig Groeshel, in his book Soul Detox states, “One of the greatest stumbling blocks to spiritual growth emerges when we get stuck in our negative, untrue, and impure thoughts instead of making the translation to God’s Word.” Our negative thoughts have a huge impact on both our worldly disposition and our spiritual thriving. I find that thoughts of negativity towards self and others is one of the biggest traps I find myself in. Honestly, I’ve been stuck in that type of thinking for much of the last week, and it is a self perpetuating sinkhole. Our minor negative thoughts end up being what we dwell on. By dwelling on these thoughts they begin to get bigger. When they get bigger they consume even more of your thoughts, and the ability to shut them down gets tougher, which only feels more defeating, and removes motivation to do anything about it- anyone else feel me on this…? It sucks, but God has given us some tools to help discern these thoughts and replace them with the truth
How to get out:
First we must be able to discern the truth and lies. This is a difficult task because the reason that lies are successful is because they feel true. As I wrote about last week, God gave us His Word to give us health and life. It speaks truth to us and about us. A few years ago, while reading the Bible, God impressed on my heart, “This is the truest thing said to you and about you today.” To discern our septic thoughts we have to have the equipment to do so, and God’s Word is the place to start.
The second avenue to discernment is community. The lead pastor at my church has a saying that I love, “The Christian walk isn’t hard to do alone…It’s impossible.” Having people in our lives to rebuke lies, to hold us accountable to correct thinking, and to smell the stink our thoughts are creating, is integral to removing them.
Now, here is what is so cool about the Bible and Christian community: Not only do they help discern septic thoughts, they help replace them with the truth. The Bible and community aren’t neutral indicators, only there to let us know our thoughts are unhealthy. The Bible is God’s story of pursuit of you. It is His Word, proclaiming His love and claiming you as his most beloved creation. The community was established to reflect this truth to you, and to the world. Both the Bible and the community participate in emptying out the septic thoughts in order to fill you will the hopeful, joyful truth.
Philippians 4:8 states,“. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” This verse is more than a fancy, self help, suggestion to make you feel good. It is found in the context of God’s word, to God’s people. The verse is filled with assumptions of what true, honorable, right, and pure things are- that God, in His love for you, knows you, see you as having infinite worth, did everything He can to offer you life, and life to the fullest through Jesus. He did this because He knows best, and wants the best for you.
So, what would it look like if we moved out of the port-o-potty of our septic thoughts, and allowed God’s Word and his community to shape our thinking? Let’s consistently pursue the truth in a way that. And maybe not immediately, but over time, the stink of negativity, pessimism, anxiety, discontentment, and bitterness, begins to be removed by the freshness of God’s truth through God’s word, and God’s community.