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Friday, September 24, 2010

Throw out Toxic Thoughts like Rejection

As a kid, our family moved quite a bit. The first major move was age seven, moving from America to London, England. I was teased by schoolmates because I didn’t fit into the culture. I was unlike them because I had an accent. I felt stupid because I needed a tutor. I was weird because my clothes were different.

You never get used to other kids being mean, but in time you learn how not to feel the sting of rejection so much because of a deep-seeded desire for acceptance. I worked tirelessly trying to conform to the way I thought my peer group and teachers wanted me to be. And today it’s not much different. Young girls experience a great deal of pressure from the culture to create a false self, a mask. This disorients and depresses many girls because they feel the pressure to be someone they’re not.

Rejection is one of our most powerful and destructive emotions. It may cause as much distress in the pain center of the brain as an actual physical injury, according to research. Rejection feels like pain to the brain. Perhaps this is why we use the term "hurt feelings." One of the studies’ authors said, "While everyone accepts that physical pain is real, people are tempted to think that social pain is just in their heads, but physical and social pain may be more similar than we realized."

Scientists at UCLA recently found that rejection triggers responses in the body that can increase a person’s risk for maladies such as asthma, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and depression. Social stress such as rejection causes inflammation, which can have detrimental effects on mental and physical health.

God has a plan to help us throw out toxic thinking. Think of your mind like a large, clear vase filled with dirty, murky water. Your job is to fill the vase with clear, fresh water until it is no longer dirty and cloudy. The clincher is—you only have an eyedropper to do it. After adding the first few drops, you don’t see any change. This is when you may be tempted to give up. That’s the devil.

We keep running our thoughts through our brain’s filter system. Eventually the water is less dingy. The more drops of water you add, and the more lies that are replaced by truth, the cleaner the water, your mind, becomes. While there will be residual effects, you have made significant improvements. Believe it!

The Bible describes this clean water theory, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:8-9, my emphasis).

Do not believe every first thought that pops in. Paul is saying that if a thought is not true, don’t let it enter your mind!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Filling Our Soul Hole

Genesis 3 tells us that mankind is flawed. Every person’s heart comes with a huge hole designed to be filled with God’s unfailing, dependable, perfect, lasting and uncritical love. Our soul holes can only be satisfied when we enjoy God. This particular devotion, Forward Day by Day (July 22, 2010) says it so perfectly:

Psalm 42:1-7. As the deer longs for the water-brooks, so longs my soul for you, O God. My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God; when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?

The psalmist compares animal thirst to our spiritual yearning. As animals ourselves, we know of physical thirsts, hungers, and cravings. But our souls also thirst, hunger, and crave. They crave God.

There is within us a huge God-shaped space that can be filled only by God. Many people do not realize this and seek to fill it with something else. But food and drink will not fill it. Health and good looks will not fill it. The affection and admiration of other people will not fill it. No peak human experience--art, rewards, childbirth, drugs, glories, honors, music, sex--can fill it. The God-space can be gratified only by the one who designed it for his own abode. Only God can fill what was meant only for God.

As Saint Augustine wrote: "You awaken and stir us so that only in praising you can we be content. You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you." (2004)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Your Royal Wedding

When you were a little girl, were you mesmerized with the stories of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White as I was? I frequently imagined what it would be like to be rescued by a handsome prince and live happily ever after in elegant gowns. Then I grew up and witnessed the fall of Prince Charming. I realized my palace was really a stable and my job was to clean up after his horse, much like Cinderella’s old existence.

How could I be so dumb for believing in a fairy-tale existence? Maybe I wasn’t so dumb. Maybe males are wired to fail so there’d be a place in our heart for our Prince—Jesus. Think about it, if all these guys were the real Prince Charming, why would we need Jesus?

Fairy tales may not come true, but when you take Jesus’s hand and commit to follow him, your status changes to royalty. You become his daughter, the daughter of the King, a joint heir with Jesus Christ, chosen of God. To be a “chosen one” is to be uniquely loved as one of Christ’s own (Col. 3:12; 1 Pet. 2:9). Soak in this truth.
When God chooses us, he pulls us out of the mainstream of humanity. He draws us close to him and begins the process of c hanging us into Christlikness. God will never force us into a relationship with him, but when we respond, we are called holy one, separate one, and a saint (1 Cor. 1:2). We are also called to be different from the world.

[this is an excerp from "breaking the cover girl mask"