[This article is an excerpt from chapter 11 of The Well-Watered Woman. Today, April 6, marks two years since the launch of the book, and to celebrate God's faithfulness, all things The Well-Watered Woman are on sale this week! Shop the Book Anniversary Collection in the Well-Watered Co.]
After my first panic attack, I spiraled into an abyss of despair. How could I, a Christian of almost twenty years, be battling crippling fear, dark depression, and wayward thoughts? I was weak, exhausted, and hungry for truth.
When I looked at myself in the mirror, I saw several “truths” about my life: I was broken, I was discouraged, I was having panic attacks, and I didn’t know what to do. These facts were the only reality I could see when darkness hid the face of God. Lies became deeply rooted in my soul, choking out the good fruit of truth.
The lies in our minds are constantly at odds with the truth, promises, and provision of God’s Word. If the thoughts that run through our minds were displayed on a screen for all to see, I imagine a few of the recurring ones would be:
I’m a failure.
I’m a disappointment.
I can’t do this.
I’ll never be free.
Renew Your Mind with God’s Word
These thoughts create deep grooves in our minds, but they’re not too deep for Christ’s truth to redirect. Paul urges in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The Greek word for transform, anakaínōsis, refers to “a renewal or change of heart and life.”1 God’s Word ultimately rewires our hearts and minds so they’re focused on what’s eternal instead of driven by what’s temporary. God’s Word plants truth and uproots lies. It clears pathways for renewal, and it covers up pathways that block peace. The key that will set you free is knowing God’s Word inside and out.
The way to change your thoughts is through the daily discipline of preaching truth to your heart. In order to be a truth preacher, you have to know the pathways in your mind that are in need of rewiring, and you need to know the truth. Then you’ll be able to pave new ways of thinking.
Preach Truth to Yourself
Jesus made it clear that knowing his truth brings freedom (see John 8:36). The truth of the gospel, the truth of his love for us, the truth of new life in him—these aren’t messages we need to hear just once in order to be set free. They’re realities we need to be reminded of over and over again.
Your thoughts might tell you, I’m broken. I don’t have value. I’m a fraud. But the truth of God’s Word says, “I’m redeemed through Christ. I’m a new creation. I’m called and equipped to live for his glory” (see Rom. 3:24; 2 Cor. 5:17; 2 Pet. 1:3).
Your thoughts might say, I can’t do this. I can’t flourish in the face of trials. But the truth of God’s Word says, “I have all I need in Christ. I can do exactly what he calls me to do through his strength” (see Phil. 4:13, 19).
Your thoughts might say, I can never be free. I will always be in bondage to fear and anxiety. But the truth of God’s Word says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set me free! His peace is possible in all circumstances” (see Gal. 5:1; Phil. 4:4–9).
When the enemy tries to drag you down through lies, doubts, and wayward thoughts, petition the Father to plant his truth deeper into your heart. The words you think impact how you talk, live, love, make decisions, and approach trials. Thoughts are ultimately made up of words, and words have more power than we realize. The good news is that God’s Word has the ultimate authority over any word and thought.
Learn to Identify the Enemy’s Lies
I used to have a hard time separating the lies of the enemy from the truths of God’s Word. The lies were loud, and I allowed myself to be deceived by their threats. The reality of this stronghold became the most evident when I began working in women’s ministry.
Leading others always exposes what we really believe about God and his Word. What comes out of our mouths is first sown and rooted in our hearts (see Luke 6:45). My words, thoughts, and feelings revealed what I truly believed, and my doubts about God’s Word became more and more obvious. Not long after I began a small business with the sole aim of equipping women to know Jesus more through the Word, I realized how little I actually believed in Scripture. I would have said it was true, but I hadn’t fully bought into how it was true for my own day-to-day reality.
After the onset of my panic attacks, I had to take a leave of absence from ministry to rest, seek counseling, root myself in the Word, and reevaluate my goals and priorities. I felt like I’d failed as a Christian and as a follower of Jesus. The enemy was sabotaging my identity in Christ, and I didn’t know how to fight back.
Keep Fighting for Truth in God’s Strength
During that season, I read a quote by Martyn Lloyd-Jones that changed everything for me: “Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself.”2 When I listened to the lies of the enemy, I spiraled into defeat. But when I preached to myself, reminding my soul of God’s unfailing truth, I was able to stand firm in confidence (see Ps. 42:5).
Instead of wallowing in the idea that I was a failure, I started memorizing 2 Corinthians 12:9–10 and reciting to myself that God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness. I would scribble this reminder on my hand so I could see it throughout the day. I’d write it on a notecard so I could take it with me whenever I needed it. Instead of quitting ministry in defeat, I decided to quit believing the enemy’s lies. I quit trying to be perfect. I quit trying to impress other people. Eventually, God transformed my view of failure and showed me that his strength is always available in my weakness and that his rescue is imminent.
God doesn’t call us to quit fighting the war for our minds, but he does call us to quit fighting it in our own strength. He has given us the weapon we need to experience victory—the Word of God. So we should preach his truth to our souls every day.