Thought Defense

There’s a scene in one of the first Harry Potter books that speaks to our daily thought life. It’s been a long time since I read it, but I can paraphrase.

Young Harry is at wizard school [please, let’s not get into an argument about the pros and cons of magic in fiction] and the lesson is on controlling another person’s thoughts. The aim of the class is to learn self-defense against such a thing, because there are villains on the loose.

When it’s Harry’s turn, he experiences a sudden desire to do something. I don’t remember what, so we’ll say it’s to stand on a chair. It makes perfect sense for him to stand on this chair, and he really wants to do it, even though, as in any other school, chairs are for sitting.

He’s really thinking about it, how important it is to stand on this chair.

He’s about to move when a puzzling thought strikes: why? Why should he stand on the chair? He doesn’t have to do that, and the professor, who hates him, would probably give him a detention. He doesn’t want to get up on the chair anyway.

So he doesn’t. The attack is broken.

As Christians, we’re to “take every thought captive to Christ.” Part of that is choosing not to contemplate what’s unwholesome or sinful. I think part of it is also realizing that we don’t have to accept those negative or hurtful thoughts that the devil – or our past – tries to make us believe.

Some of them are outright lies (“God’s holding out on you”) that we can refute with Scripture, out loud if necessary. “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19, NLT)”

Some of them are vague feelings or fears. It’s easy to believe them because feelings seem real, but “we live by faith, not by sight” – or by feel.

I’m finding the more I work at submitting my mind to Christ’s, and at speaking truth against the negatives that have ruled me in the past, the easier it is to recognize an attack in progress. And sometimes, before it takes hold, I notice the initial malaise and find that incisive why? rising in my thoughts. Not in defiance, but in curiosity. Why should I accept the idea to feel bad about myself because someone else is x, y, or z? Why compare? Let them be who they are. And let me look to God and find my sufficiency in Him.

Maybe if I live and practise long enough, this won’t be such a rare experience that it inspires a blog post!

In each of my Redemption’s Edge novels, at least one character ends up confronting negative thoughts or fears with truth. Maybe it’s because it’s something I need to learn personally, but I think it’s because a whole lot of people, Christians and non, are walking around believing lies they don’t have to accept.

What about you? Is this something you ever struggle with? Or do you know people who do?

Why accept negative thoughts and fears, when Jesus speaks truth?

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4 thoughts on “Thought Defense

  1. glynism

    This is so good, Janet. I spoke to a group of women last week about being godly in this crazy world. It’s not easy. Yes, even Christians with faith in a living Lord, believe the lies sometimes and then not only are we trying to live up to expectations we were never expected to meet, we then battle with the guilt on top of everything. Good thoughtful post, Janet. Thanks for this. Blessings for your continued journey!

  2. Bobbi Junior

    Janet, you say,”Why should I accept the idea to feel bad about myself because someone else is x, y, or z?” So very, very true.

    And why should I accept that what comes into my mind is worthy of attention? Your simple response, to question “Why?” is doable. Manageable in the moment. I, too, practice taking thoughts captive, but usually it’s the ones I recognize as untrustworthy. I think I’m going to start asking ‘why’ more often, to see what happens! Thx for the post!

    1. Janet Sketchley Post author

      Ooh, Bobbi, “why should I accept that what comes into my mind is worthy of attention?” SO true! But we do. We believe it by default. May we all learn to ask why, from a place of security in the Lord Who sees the answer.


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