Mental Battles

I wrote this article for another blog a year or so ago. But I came across it again today and thought it is as true for me as ever. So here it is again.

All my struggles are mental. They may start out as physical issues (like those I encounter with diabetes or sleep deprivation) or relational issues (like tension with a spouse, coworker, or child), but they always end up as mental battles. My success or failure in each circumstance ALWAYS comes down to how I handle it in my head.

My mental battles usually all boil down to fear and fatigue. As a teenager, I was insecure-lacking confidence, anxious, doubting myself. As a single twenty-something, I faced depression-feelings of sadness, guilt, helplessness, and hopelessness-thinking that all hopes for the future hung on getting married and having kids, which I felt powerless to accomplish on my own. As a married thirty-something, I faced depression again-this time after miscarrying and having problems getting pregnant. Once again, I hung my hopes for the future on building a physical family. Of late, I’ve battled insecurity and depression yet again. It doesn’t matter that I have my family, a comfortable home, and a fulfilling ministry at church. I still have mental battles.

This latest round of mental battles has taught me important truths. First and foremost, we CANNOT peg our hopes for overcoming our mental battles on a change in our circumstances.

If only that guy would call me .
If only my husband would do X .
If only I wasn’t so sick .
If only I could lose 10 pounds .
If only they’d offer me a better job .
If only my kids would obey me .

If you rely on circumstantial change to get you out of a mental funk, I’m here to tell you, any mental relief you get will be short-lived. The 2nd thing I’ve learned (and it is tied to the first) is that the answer to fighting mental battles is NOT to work harder to solve your situation or spend more time analyzing your options.

What is the answer? For me, there is ONE THING that helps me mentally. It is to step back and get a view of the big picture-i. e. the character of God and His kingdom purposes for us. God is sovereign, compassionate, and wise. In other words, He’s in control, He loves us, and He knows what He’s doing. When my kids don’t obey me, God still rules over all. When I’m overwhelmed by my inability to do all I need to do, God’s kingdom purposes will still be accomplished. When I’m stressed by conflict with a loved one, God still rules over the hearts of men and His plan to conform us to His image still stands.

God is doing His work. His purposes will be accomplished. But Satan’s lies permeate this world and, often, my mind. So I have to do exactly what Paul told the Corinthians to do in 2 Cor. 10:5.

2 Corinthians 10:5 “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

I love the picture here-I think of it in terms of a rodeo. Picture a big ring with animals of various sizes and strengths haphazardly running around. Then the cowboy walks in with his lasso, ropes an animal, and brings it down. Some are baby calves that are easy to take captive. Others are raging bulls that only come down with fierce, determined strength. By the Spirit’s empowerment, this is my job-lasso in thoughts that don’t jive with God’s Word and make them submit to the truth of Scripture.

The big lie that runs around in my head in various forms is that God isn’t in control, my life is on the verge of going to hell in a hand basket, and if I don’t work fast and take control of everything myself, I’m lost. I must identify that lie and lasso it in. It has to submit to the truth-God is sovereign, He knows what He’s doing, and He is in control of the details of my life. My need isn’t to think fast and do something, but to abide in Him, rest, and wait patiently on Him to work.

What is your big mental battle? Can you identify both the lie and the truth from Scripture that refutes it? If so, please feel free to share it here.

2 Responses to Mental Battles

  1. Anonymous September 3, 2008 at 8:59 pm #

    Thanks for your honesty and wisdom. God has really used your blog to encourage me.

  2. Karla September 4, 2008 at 9:56 pm #

    Wendy,Thank you for solid theology, all in the context of the daily struggles as a woman, wife and mother.My mind is where so many battles occur as well. I often say my mind is a blessing and a curse – that while its analytical and organizational strengths bless my work and my home, these same characteristics often confine me to mental sin.The Lord has been, thankfully, teaching me of late how vital it is to my marriage, especially, to capture every thought that is not rooted in the truth of Him. Your word picture of a lassoing rodeo is a fun, but true, analogy of what should happen in my mind.Thanks for your teaching – done is truth, honesty, love and humor. I love learning from you.Karla