"Deane, wake up! I think there's a bat in our room!"
Groggy, I open my eyes and, yes indeed, there is an annoying little creature with a wide wingspan flying around and around our bedroom in the middle of the night. The unique clicking noise that accompanies the flapping of his wings brings a dreaded chill to my core as I hurry out of bed and into the closet...
I wonder how many times I have been stirred out of deep slumber because my husband has learned to listen in his sleep.
Sorry, but this is not a blog post about bats (which I could write, if you are interested), instead, it is about our thoughts. In April I led a three week class at House of Hope called, Learning to Listen, and I thought you might like to "think about your thoughts" for a bit with me here.
When a thought comes flying into our mind, like an un-welcomed and unexpected guest, we can continue to let it fly around in our mind, harassing us as we try to ignore it, or we can sit up and listen, figure out what it's trying to tell us, and then decide what to do with it.
Sit Up And Listen
I have read that we have thousands of thoughts that go through our minds every day. Many of these thoughts go in and out unnoticed but some are glaring and packed with emotion. Which ones are we going to pay attention to?
William Kenower, in Fearless Writing, writes, "Thoughts are so powerful, so magnetic, and so packed with energy and creative potential that it is easy to mistake them for reality rather than simply a possibility."
So when one comes flapping in, looking especially dark and sinister, we should sit up and take notice! That thought can make us feel awful. But really, it is only a mist in our head, so to speak.
If we add details to a negative thought, it becomes a story. And since it is so much easier to embrace a story, instead of just a thought, we would do best to stop before it becomes a story appearing even more real.
Example: I can notice a thought that tells me I am a worthless writer. I don't like this thought but every writer I've ever known has been tempted with that thought! I can perk up my ears and as the thought comes, and because of a recent writers block or discouragement, I can agree with it. I can believe it to be true so I start adding evidence that it is true, thus making it into a story. Pretty soon I am ready to shut down my blog and be done with it all. (And to be honest, this thought has harassed me more than once!)
But it would be much better to recognize that lie for what it is, pat my heart with kindness, and get ready to reject it.
What's It Trying To Tell Me?
I think these random thoughts remind me that I'm human. Fear can be overwhelming. Bad things do happen to people. I'm afraid I don't measure up. But I don't have to believe them! I can let them make me more determined to trust God for my future and to remember He is with me. Psalm 5 even says that he surrounds those who seek him with "favor as with a shield." I love that.
What Shall I Do With It?
When a bat enters uninvited into our bedroom late at night (while I hide in the closet) Brian (my brave hero) crouches (to avoid the circling bat) to the window, opens it and removes the screen. We quickly leave the room, shutting the door. Eventually most bats will find the open window and fly out into the night to continue their nocturnal wanderings.
Likewise, could we identify our thoughts that are ugly or scary and choose to "open the window" and let them, or force them to "get out of Dodge?" (That means "get out of town," for those of you who perhaps did not grow up watching Gunsmoke.)
It's not easy. Sometimes we need to look for a distraction or an encouragement that either gets our mind off the thought or gives assurance that indeed the thought was a poof-of-nothing. Philippians 4 tells us that "Whatever is true...think about such things...And the God of peace will be with you." I love this! Peace comes as I am determined to let untruths go and rest in the bigger truth of God's love for me.
This is by no means an exhaustive explanation about thoughts combined with scary experiences we have had with bats. But it is a wake up call to not let ourselves be fooled by a thought that enters and flutters about causing fear or dread. Let's look at it, decide what it is telling us and then give it a shove into the dark so we can get back to our peaceful night of sleep.
And those bats? Well, most of them find the open window. Some are a bit less compliant and stricter means are needed to get them out of our house. Think on that one for awhile.