Pivoting your thoughts
I recently listened to a sermon from Elevation Church called Chasing Contentment. Andy listened to it 2-3 times one day so I felt the need to understand his heart behind listening to it multiple times. The first time I listened I was driving so I couldn’t write anything down but the second time I listened to it man I couldn’t put my pen down. So much goodness in one talk.
To sum up the sermon in one phrase would be this, the root of contentment is whatever we feed, focus, or gaze on.
I have been on this journey of understanding the power of my thoughts. I am not only understanding the power of my thoughts but figuring out ways to control them. Good thoughts sometime don’t come easy and come less often. Bad thoughts come easy and come way too often.
In my previous post I talked about John 10:10 and the danger of the thief. His goal is to steal, kill, and destroy. So if I know where the root of those destructive thoughts stem from then how do I go about controlling or refocusing them on a regular basis?
In Philippians 4:12-13 Paul writes this, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
What stands out to me is the word learned. If you are learning something then you didn’t know how to do it before. You are training yourself and soaking your mind with thoughts of a new way of thinking. So if Paul talks about learning the secret of being content it makes me wonder if contentment is not a natural way for humans to think? I would think not. Just look around. Every commercial, ad, post, billboard is telling us that their product or service is what we “need” to achieve the “thing” we are looking for. Discontentment is everywhere.
The other part that stands out to me in Philippians 4:12 is that Paul finds contentment in any and every situation. He’s not talking about being content WITH every situation but IN every situation. Complete honesty, I will never be content with the situation that Andy and I are in. I’ll never be satisfied with it and that’s ok. It brought a small sense of relief when I realized that. In a way it started to break down a wall of feeling that I needed to do or chase something to fix the situation. It’s a slow breaking of a wall but one that is just starting.
What I think Paul is getting at is the contentment of knowing that God sees me, knows me, loves me, is with me, and wants good for me IN my situation. I don’t have to be satisfied or okay with my situation to know that God stands right beside me in and through whatever I are going through.
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10
I used to journal when I was younger and occasionally here and there but nothing I consistently put into practice. When I read about how Paul learned the secret of being content it stuck with me. I started thinking about the steps I could take to put contentment into practice and journaling came to mind. Not just writing a page or two with thoughts of how I was feeling but something that had structure to it. I thought about the stages of pivoting a thought to focus on the glory of who God is and not on the frustration or sadness that’s in front of me.
Because this way of journaling has helped me, I want to share it with you! Don’t for once think I do this every day and have unlocked the key to contentment. This is an ongoing struggle but a journey that I know will lead to goodness.
What I love is it provides a way for my thoughts to be washed over with truth, it pivots my eyes on God, and I become more and more dependent on Him.
Five stages for practicing contentment:
Honesty: These are the raw emotions of how you are feeling. Don’t hold anything back. What lies are you hearing and believing? Where is your heart at?
Truth: What does God say about this? Stages 2 and 3 go hand-in-hand. Sometimes finding a verse helps you understand the truth.
Verse: What verse is speaking this truth?
Pivot: How are you going to refocus your thoughts on God and his glory? What are you going to choose to focus on?
Petition: Ask God for what you want without believing He will say no.