Writer Meryl McKean explains how your perspective and mental health can completely change when you stop listening to yourself and start speaking to yourself with God’s word instead.
Who are you listening to? How many voices have you listened to today? Competition for our attention is fierce, whether human or those from the media, we are completely inundated. I heard a quote recently from Protestant minister Martyn Lloyd Jones that impacted me: “Have you realised that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”
You may think that sounds a little strange… we all know what talking to yourself means! The voice in our head though is very active, it is not always kind, often speaking negative words, suggesting negative outcomes and leading us to feel fear or anxiety. It replays imaginary conversations and prevents us enjoying the moment.
The Bible says: “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not his benefits.” Psalm 103:1-2. The psalmist David knew what it was to struggle emotionally. Here he speaks to his soul, speaking truth and instructing his soul to praise God. If you read on in the Psalm, he remembers what God has done and speaks out aspects of His character. He is caught up in the wonder of who God is and this affects how he thinks and feels. As we declare truth to ourselves, we replace the lies.
Martyn Lloyd Jones said: “Have you realised that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”
Those inner voices can pop up any time to deprive us of the things God has for us. Recently I received a call on a Saturday morning – due to a series of events there was no preacher at church the following day. They asked if I would I consider preaching! Now I usually prefer at least a month to pray and plan a preach. I could feel those inner voices getting ready to shout “you can’t do this”, “you will go blank and make a fool of yourself” but deep within I was aware of the prompting of the Holy Spirit, a sense that I needed to step out in faith because God had put things on my heart and would give me something to say. So I did and yes he did. I even enjoyed it. My choice to listen to truth turned into an opportunity for growth.
That truth comes as we get to know our Heavenly Father better. “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season.” Psalm 1:1-3.
God wants to partner with us as we seek his wisdom in caring for our minds.
Picture a table spread with wonderful food. Many people are coming to that table, some in a hurry, they grab something and leave. Others pick up the food and examine it. A few are sat around the table together with the host, tasting the food, they chat together enjoying time in each other’s company. To meditate on God’s word is like enjoying a feast with your Heavenly Father, savouring a verse from his word. Not emptying but filling the mind with the transforming word of God. Not studying but pondering, allowing it to become part of us. God has so many riches in his word. Start with a few verses – maybe Psalm 23 or 103. Read slowly a few times, out loud if possible, asking the Holy Spirit to highlight a verse or phrase. Write it done and prayerfully take it with you into the day.
Romans 12:2 speaks of us being transformed by the renewing of our minds. God wants to partner with us as we seek his wisdom in caring for our minds. Let’s partner with him to listen to voices of truth today.