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Designed to Shine

Tuesday March 11, 2014

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11

We are all meant to shine in this life, in one way or another. God designed us and has plans for us to prosper and thrive in this life. It’s not a selfish sort of, “Look at me,” shining that I am talking about.

I am talking about the sort of shining where we value the people God made each of us to be and we are living from and being the best version of our self. This, so that we can serve and glorify God through who we are in the world, and at the same time serve our families, our friends, our communities, and thus the world.

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” ~2Timothy 1:7

What can we learn from this passage and how can it help us to shine as we were designed to? Let’s take a closer look at the text and see.

The original Greek word translated as discipline in verse 7 only appears in the bible this one time. The word is sophronismos, which is closely related to sophron, meaning of sound mind (taken from sozo meaning to save and phren meaning thinking).

So the idea of biblical self-discipline in verse 7 is having a sound mind – thinking the right thoughts. What an insightful perspective. God gave us a spirit of sound mind through our thoughts. It is up to us to “take every thought captive” (see 2 Corinthians 10:5) in our own mind and to make sure that it is in line with what Christ wants for us. 

In recent years scientists have learned that “self-talk”—those little inner conversations you have with yourself—plays a huge role in your faith, your happiness and your success.  Even though as people we know we are “made in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27), we are often quick to put ourselves down and, consequently, sabotage our efforts and relationships.

Self-talk includes our conscious thoughts as well as our unconscious assumptions or beliefs. Some of our self-talk is reasonable — ‘I need to get some organization done’, or ‘I’m really looking forward to being with my family’. However, some of our self-talk is self-deflating, negative, unrealistic, judgmental, and unrealistically fearful. This sort of thinking does not serve God, ourselves, or other people.

God delights in us, his children (Zephaniah 3:17). Is it time that we delight in ourselves a little more, the way God does, while honoring the children of God that we are?

Perhaps it is time to become more aware of the self-talk that runs through your mind. Following are 5 easy steps for honing awareness of thoughts and self-talk that may not be serving your light shining in this world.

1)Write them down~ Grab a notebook or a journal and put it by your bed side or in a place you are sure to see it. Take 3 minutes a day for a week to write down the self-talk that you notice during the day that is negative, judgmental, bothersome, or fear-based.

2)Do a reality check~ Look at the things you wrote and ask yourself the following questions: Is this true? Does this make me feel good? Does this sort of talk help me to serve God?

If 2 out of 3 answers are no’s, you have stopped the spiral and pulled in the reigns. You have said to your mind that this is not really the direction you want to go with your thoughts.

3)Counter balance~ Redirect your mind into a direction that serves you much better and helps you to become the person God made you to be.

Begin by writing the opposite. “I can’t do this….I can do this”  Then include why you can do this. “I can do this because I have accomplished many things before…or I was able to move out of a difficult situation before” and ideally you want to give an example. “This is when I was able to do this…this shows me I do have potential.”

4)Be realistic~ If I was saying, “I can’t do anything right,” and then you are saying the counter balancing thought, “I do everything right the first time,” that might be too far away, like a poor person saying they are a millionaire.

Come a little closer to the original thought. Instead you could say,

“I am a person who is able to learn and because of that I can always find ways to succeed.”

Another example is for the thought, “I messed up. I should have known I don’t have what it takes to succeed.” Instead you could say, “Despite the challenges I encountered, I am proud of myself for trying and there are some lessons in this that I will take with me.”

5)Add emotions~ You can do this by bringing specific examples to mind of , this is one way to bring an emotional charge to the statements.

As you recall these memories from the past and touch base with the feelings in them, you can then access those feelings when you say these counter-balancing thoughts to yourself.

Experts in the field of psychology estimate that when we practice awareness of negative self-talk and engage in counter-balancing for 2 weeks, the negative self-talk decreases by as much as 75-80%. When we change the self-talk that goes on inside of our mind, we are literally changing the chemistry of our brains! We create new grooves in the brain of positivity and truth, instead of negativity and lies about ourselves.