by Jennifer L. Griffith
Have you ever tried to change the position in which you sleep … after 50 years?
I am in the process of transitioning from “stomach sleeper” to “back sleeper.” Why? The way I’ve been sleeping for over 35 percent of my life has created pain in my body. This physical posture has caught up with me, and I need to make a change.
This transition reminds me of the mental and emotional challenge of taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). I’d first read this verse shortly after I joined my women’s Bible study in 1996. But, I could not comprehend what it looked like. Friends would say, “Focus on what is true … noble … right … pure … lovely … admirable” (Phil 4:8). This clearly required action from me. No one else was responsible for how my mind processed situations, entertained thoughts, or how I responded. These habits began at birth. I needed this change, but the instructions seemed vague to me.
My breakthrough began back in 2013. As I prepared to leave Swaziland, I knew something needed to change – and that something was me. I’d allowed circumstances and other people’s choices to rob me of so much life. As I prayed for direction, I plotted a route to bicycle from Georgia to Louisiana. Or, maybe from Pensacola to Mandeville. Better yet, from the Atlantic to the Pacific—the ride on my bucket list. Yet, I sensed that God wanted me “home.” First. He wanted me to address heart issues in the environment where these poor habits began. I obeyed.
Shortly after I arrived “home,” I found myself facing the very circumstances that I’d left years before. My angry thoughts and responses were the same as well, but I wanted both to change.
I drove 75 miles to a worship meeting with friends. I asked them to pray this “anger” out of me, as well as the thoughts that would not stop. I knew anger was not of God, and I wanted nothing more to do with it. What followed started my journey to freedom from what once ruled my life!
“I am not so sure we need to pray “anger” out of you. Anger often acts as the protector of wounds that need to heal. Let’s thank Anger for doing his job, and ask him to move aside. Then ask God to reveal what needs to be healed—effectively removing Anger’s job from your life.” – Suzette Bowen, Couples Care Center of Baton Rouge, LA
No guilt for my action?
No, hope came! Hope to overcome the demons, the thoughts that ruled me when circumstances “righteously” deserved an angry response. Hope for real change!
Laying prostrate on the floor of my bedroom that night, I asked God to lead me to each wound that needed to heal. God began to bring different tools to facilitate this process. A way to sit with the Holy Spirit in each wound and allow God to heal each raw place.
I pressed into God’s word for His presence to discover how to let go. Only He could lose me from the strongholds and lies that bound my soul. Each moment that I spent entertaining these thoughts distracted me from my calling and more.
Over the ensuing months, I wanted to bike far away, yet God would remind me that it’s in the fires where purity lays. So, I stayed.
As the fire intensified through circumstances far beyond my control, opportunities to practice taking my thoughts captive came. This pressure-cooker forced my fleshly reactions from beneath the surface, up and out, leading to countless epic fails. Yet, I began to praise God as more wounds surfaced, needing to be healed.
Almost a year later, I began to see clearly the beauty of God’s call back home. Back into the environment that caused so many wounds. Yet, He used what once hurt so deeply – what the enemy used to harm me, now heal. These circumstance revealed the entry points where I gave Satan legal grounds to play inside of my mind. His covert activity came into the light.
Through examining my past, the origin of the unfruitful thoughts and reactions, I am able to see the lies trying to rob me of peace, and of all that God has for me. I now stop and close off the access point with truth and prayer, meditating on God’s Word throughout the day and the night.
I’ve yet to conquer the battle to sleep on my back and every battle of the mind. It’s a process. It’s a choice to change habits, including my thoughts, and the power others have over me. Yet, I’ve gained more ground where the enemy once ruled like a bully on a playground. I will no longer allow circumstances and lies to have power over me – only Truth, because that’s what sets me free. Holding all captive to the obedience – to the Truth in my life.
What circumstances, thoughts or reactions are holding you captive from what God has for your life? What wounds are left raw to heal?
Who or what are you giving power to in your life? The truth or the lies? It’s your choice! Freedom is waiting to arise!