my husband and i recently bought a trash can to fit under the sink. this may not sound like a monumental change, but for a couple who has had a large trash can in their kitchen for 7+ years of marriage, this is a monumental change.
we've only lived in our house for 7 months. it's not a long time, but we had our trash can in the same spot [right around a little corner in the kitchen] the entire time and as soon as we adopted a smaller basket under the sink, we couldn't stop turning that corner to throw something away, but of course it wasn't there anymore. i can't tell you how many times i've turned that corner in the last two weeks!! it's hilarious! i didn't realize how ingrained a habit could be, and for some reason, this small change of trash cans has caused a huge shift for me. it's monumental because it has shown me how deeply rooted a habit can be.
somewhere along the way of life, i grew into a negative person. not in an obviously outward sense, but quietly, secretly in my mind. i let things of my past haunt me, i allowed the worries of the future control me, i fostered hurts and wounds to grow into bitterness, i hid my struggles instead of exposing them and sharing them with friends, i let comparison and insecurities beat me up and lead me into depression more times than not.... all of which have created destructive mental habits. they've become well-trodden pathways that have no hint of Good or reflection of Light.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things."
little did i know that when i picked this passage for my 29th year, God would reveal just how much i walked those habitual mental paths that are so far from Him. this scripture is the solution for my unhealthy mind, but it's not a one-time miracle pill that drops the weight without any lifestyle change. no, this is a daily regimen that requires persistence, dedication, and discipline. it requires a lifestyle change in order to work.
i've had to change my physical diet completely in the last few months, and let me tell you, when i initially made that change, the first week was torture. it felt like a battle that i was too weak to win. i found myself weeping over the fact that i couldn't have a cookie [oh Lord, help this sugar toothed girl!!]... and then strangely enough, throughout week 2 and 3 i didn't miss the cookies. instead, i found myself actually enjoying the healthier options. slowly but surely, it's now becoming a habit to turn away from unhealthy foods. it's taken a lot of discipline and perseverance which hasn't been easy, but i'm dedicated because i know it's the only way to feel better. isn't our mental health the same way?!
if we desire a change in our thinking, we have to be dedicated to making the change, over and over again, because it's the only way we'll get better. when thoughts of envy or bitterness or anxiety pop up, we have to exchange those for something healthy - God's word, His promises, His character, prayers of thankfulness and praise.
when i find myself around the corner in our kitchen and realize that my old trash can isn't there for the hundredth time, do i throw the trash there anyways?! no! i turn around and redirect myself every single time. we can't just keep walking on these same paths expecting a different outcome; we must form new ones. habits aren't formed overnight, they're formed over a period of time by repetition, and if i want philippians 4:6-8 to characterize my way of thinking, then i need to be diligent and persistent in choosing Him in my mind... and even when i start to slip into negativity again, i have to fight back and redirect it every time.
you are not alone. opposition will come and it's going to be difficult, but God has already gone before us. Jesus Christ has already established victory in our minds, we just need to follow Him there.
"Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him who loves us."
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
"... that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, by having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe..."
friends, i hope this encourages you! so much love to you... praying for new + healthy habits to be formed in each of us!