“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”
Phil 4:8-9 (MSG)
Continuing from last week’s eprayer. We are looking at four bad habits that need to STOP to allow a relationship to flourish. Each habit is represented by a letter of the word ‘STOP’. The first bad habit, represented by the ‘S’ is Striking Back. Today we are looking at ‘T’ – Thinking the worst.
‘Thinking the worst’ is toxic. It’s defined as: “people apply negative attitudes from their past inappropriately to the present and hear criticism where none is intended — can lead to paranoia.”
I do this. In my past there were a number of bad experiences and when I’m in a difficult situation or conversation I have to fight the habit of thinking the worst. When I think the worst I believe things that are usually not true. I assume people are about to get or reject me, my attitude and behaviour becomes negative, defensive and sometimes angry and that makes it really hard for us to work through things. It forces us apart. It would be much better if I stopped and asked a couple of questions to clarify the situation. I’ve come to the conclusion that my mind is a battle ground… the battle is over whether I think God’s way, or the ‘other’ way.
How does ‘thinking the worst’ effect your relationship?
In what circumstances do you ‘think the worst’?
Dear Father God, you know all my and our thoughts; the good thoughts and the not so good. Through your Holy Spirit please help us to take our minds captive and to recognise which thoughts are ‘of you’ and which are not. Help us to make our thinking habits healthy and when we are in a tricky situation not to ‘assume the worst’, and that people are out to get us, instead to ask good questions to clarify our understanding. Help us to think and behave and speak in a way that pleases you – full of grace and mercy. Amen
Pray (for others)
Dear Father God, we lift up …. and …. to you. Help each of them to stop thinking the worst, instead to think in a way that pleases you. Help them to draw closer together, for we asking Jesus’ name.
2 Cor 10:4,5 (NIV): The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
The STOP signs were developed by Harry Benson of the Marriage Foundation. There’s a useful article on them here