June 30, 2021
Thought Life: Part 2
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. -Philippians 4:8
In last week’s post, I stated something really obvious: What we choose to think about has incredible influence and power over how we feel and act at any given moment. Our thoughts can lift us up or they can eat away at our mental health with tortuous results.
It may be obvious, but it doesn’t mean we always get it right. Do you find yourself thinking consistently about the lifegiving things described in Philippians 4:8? Or are you more prone to let your mind wander into unhealthy realms of fantasy and/or negativity?
I don’t remember when I was first introduced to the concept of “Plan A” thoughts vs. “Plan B” thoughts, but it’s an idea that I come back to regularly in my life and use frequently when I do premarital counseling.
“Plan A” thoughts are like those described in Philippians 4:8. They’re right, pure, noble and praiseworthy. Picture yourself driving home from work. It’s been a long day and you are barely conscious of the song on the radio when your mind begins to drift. Where does it go? “Plan A” thoughts are those that honor the Lord. You begin thinking about the blessings in your life; your wife, your kids, your friends and the gratitude you have for a home with air conditioning. [It’s 108 degrees as I write this.] You reminisce about the edifying time you had with a brother in Christ over coffee that morning. Maybe you begin contemplating the last sermon you heard and how you can implement its teachings.
Or, maybe some of the thoughts are hard. “Plan A” thoughts aren’t necessarily easy and fun to think about. You replay an argument that you had with your son prior to leaving for work and you realize that you owe him an apology. Or maybe the Holy Spirit convicts you and helps you to realize you haven’t made time with your wife recently because of a busy work schedule.
“Plan A” thoughts can turn into prayer and praise and lead to positive actions. It’s “Plan A” because it’s God’s best plan for you.
“Plan B” thoughts are a different story. Picture yourself driving home from work, but this time your mind drifts to thoughts that are not in line with Philippians 4:8. You begin fantasizing about an attractive coworker. She’s young, flirty and has a beautiful smile. She laughs easily and it’s obvious she enjoys your company. You start comparing this woman to your wife who is not so young anymore and has gained significant weight since you got married. You keep thinking about how attractive this younger woman is and your mind drifts to sexual fantasy. You decide that she’s everything your wife isn’t, and you start feeling resentment toward your wife and begin blaming her for your mediocre marriage. These are the thoughts you take with you as you sit down to dinner with your family.
This is only one example. “Plan B” thoughts can be about anything that distracts you or prevents you from thinking God-honoring thoughts. If you find yourself wishing you could keep what was going on in your mind a secret from God, then you know your thoughts are taking you down a dark and scary road.
Here’s your homework for the week: actively think about your thoughts when your mind begins to wander. Try to keep track of how many thoughts fall into the God-honoring category and how many are purely a self-serving fantasy. Or as we looked at last week, sometimes our thoughts turn negative and we dwell on things we should dismiss. Look for patterns in your thought life. Then, when you find your thoughts drifting into the “B thought” category, quickly steer them back.
Also, think about the actions “Plan A” thoughts lead you to vs. “Plan B” thoughts.
More on our thoughts leading to actions next week.