“Hey, Larry, check out this watch!”
A message with this subject line appeared in my e-mail several times a week for about a month. One problem, my name isn’t Larry. Sometimes the message arrived addressed to another name.
“Hey, Brad, check out this watch.”
“Hey, Lisa . . .”
“Hey, Tiffany . . . “
The closest the sender ever came was “Hey, Georgette” (at least he/she got the last four letters of the name correct). But the thing is, even if the message arrived with, “Hey, Jeanette, check out this watch,” I wouldn’t open it. It bares all the tattletale signs of spam—I don’t recognize the sender’s name, it appears in the folder notorious for virus-infected junk, and the subject line screams “scam alert!” So I delete without opening.
The last time that I deleted one of these e-mails, I wondered why I couldn’t do the same with other junk “messages,” such as the thoughts that clutter the inbox of my mind sometimes.
Here’s an example, one that I feel silly even writing about it now. I can’t drive due to low vision, so I often need to call on friends for rides to the store, doctor appointments, and church activities. A couple of weeks ago, I woke up in a panic because I’d forgotten to buy an important item at the store. I needed it THAT DAY! I called my friend Jane but got her answering machine. As soon as I hung up, it started—the “You’re a burden on your friends” thoughts. Insecurity set in and twisted its knife as I tried my friend Susan.
“I’ll take you to Wal-Mart,” Susan said. “When can you be ready?”
I shouldn’t put Susan out. She’s getting over a cold. How could I be so insensitive? How could I have forgotten to buy everything I needed in the first place? How irresponsible! Those ridiculous thoughts nearly drowned my gratitude for my friend’s help.
Later that day, I recognized my thoughts as the junk that they were. I mean, come on! Jane and Susan know that I can’t drive. Both have said repeatedly, “Call if you need a ride somewhere.” They also know that I’m not the type to ask for favors that aren’t important. I know in my heart of hearts that neither of them sees me as a burden. Delete!
My system nearly crashed due to mental spam last week, to the point where I hit the weekend in an emotional tizzy of discouragement and tears. On Sunday morning, after talking to a precious sister in Christ, I recognized that, once again, I’d opened too many junk messages. Why I bought into their lies and deception, I’m not sure. But it had to stop because I’d contracted a virus that was destroying my attitude, sense of self-worth, and most of all my joy.
So my prayer for this week is that I’ll recognize mental junk mail and refuse to open it. I plan to ask myself the following questions when filtering thoughts. Maybe you will benefit from them too.
1) Do I know and trust the sender? In other words, is this message from God? Jeremiah 31:3 says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” So, for example, since a message like “You’re a burden on you’re friends” isn’t very loving, I can assume that it didn’t come from my Heavenly Father. Knowing how nice my friends are, I can safely say that they wouldn’t send such a message either. Delete!
2) What does the subject line tell me about the possible content? If the theme of a thought contains negative comments about me as a person, my relationship with people that I know love me, mistakes from the past, or the work that God has done in my life (such as, “You haven’t changed all that much” or “You will always struggle with this.”) then why read on? Delete!
So far I’ve done pretty well. Yesterday I deleted several including one calling this blog post “lame and pathetic” (Can you believe that? How rude!). Weight lifted with each mental dump. Now all I need to do is keep it up.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me . . . “ (Psalm 139:23-24) including those things that are offensive to my well-bring.
Father, erase the thoughts that harm my mind and spirit. Guard my heart against lies that strip me of my joy, my ability to enjoy friendships, and most importantly, my focus on You.
I pray the same for you today.
May your thoughts be pure and lovely!