My nine year old daughter came downstairs after ‘going to bed’, her eyes red from crying. I expected the occassional bad dream explanation but instead she told me that a little girl at school had shared a scary story with her about dolls coming to life and hurting a family.
(Ugh….not my favorite scenario)
Anyway, her words were “I can’t get the scary out of my head.”
I pulled her up on my lap and she cuddled up against me, a hold I appreciate more and more the older she gets (because she’s doing it less and less). I said an internal prayer for help and wisdom before speaking to her.
“I’m sorry somebody told you something scary. I’m afraid because this world is so broken you’re going to see lots of scary things in your life, so the best thing to do is figure out how to deal with them right now.”
She nodded and sniffled.
“What does the Bible say about our thoughts, Phoebe?”
“I don’t know?” she shrugged.
“Well, the Bible tells us what things to think of first of all. (Philippians 4) Some of the things it says is to think on things that are true and lovely. Is the doll story true?”
She shook her head.
“It definitely doesn’t sound lovely, does it?”
“No,” she whimpered. “But it’s still stuck in my head.”
Yep, I knew that feeling. I’ve been strugg
ling with my own brain spinning fears lately.
“Let’s both try two things. What do yousay? First, the Bible says to take every thought captive.”
“What does captive mean?” Thankfully, she’d stopped crying by this point.
“You know when a knight or a soldier captures an enemy? What does he do to capture them?”
“He grabs them?”
“Yep. Captive is kind of like ‘grabbing’. God tells us to grab those thoughts and see if they fit God’s types of thoughts to think. If they do, we keep them. If they don’t, we toss them. And if those bad thoughts get sticky to our minds, we have to put good thoughts in to push away the bad until there’s no room for the bad.”
We talked a little longer about some thoughts she could think instead and off she went. When I checked on her twenty minutes later, she was asleep with her Jesus Storybook Bible on her chest.
I got the opportunity to remember my own words later that night as my mind filled with sticky thoughts. They spun with worry and fear, sending my heart into a patter.
Were my thoughts true? Maybe some of them.
Were they lovely? Definitely not.
But they were not excellent or praiseworthy because they brought fear with them.
Taking my own advice, I began to fill my mind with prayers for others instead of continuing to spin my fears. I caught those thoughts, looked at them, and measured them against the truth.
God is good. Faithful. Filled with compassion. Powerful.
And I am His.
No matter what.
Did I fall asleep right away?
No, sticky thoughts aren’t always easy to remove.
Did I fall asleep eventually?
Yes – and hopefully next time I will even faster.
Because in those moments I desperately need to remind my heart about what my head knows. Who is in charge and to whom I belong.
It’s a good reminder from one traveller on this life-journey to another.