Last night as I was driving home I was listening to a Christian music station. As I approached a particular intersection in town, as usual, there became interference from a decidedly not Christian radio station. I thought “What a great metaphor for what can happen inside our heads.”
You are going along in life “tuned in” to positive and godly thinking and all of a sudden you hit something that jams up your mental processes and causes confusion. It becomes more and more difficult to hear the “station” that you intentionally selected. The competing station might be seductive or easier to listen to because it requires less from you. As you listen it gets louder and eventually drowns out what you were listening to. It puts doubt in your mind about the value of staying with your original choice.
I know that you have experienced what I am talking about many times. So have I. We have made good choices based on rational and inspired thinking only to start wavering. We might attend a particularly great conference and make promises to ourselves about how to incorporate the things we’ve just learned. We drive a stake in the ground. But as time goes on the stake loosens. What can we do?
The solution to interference
Like what I did last night, the first thing we can do is either change stations or turn it off and shut down the unwanted input. The longer I wait, the worse it gets. We do not have to entertain unwanted or confusing thoughts. We can intentionally distract ourselves with “thought shifting” techniques like listening to positive music, or reading or watching something that gets us refocused. Yes, I know that can be difficult, especially for those who tend to be obsessive thinkers. But it can be done – it just takes more intentional effort.
Second, if our thoughts take us down a dark alley where we might choose to act out in an unwanted or destructive manner, we can call a trusted and supportive friend (or sponsor for some of us). Hopefully they can talk us into staying on track with our better self.
Third, we can stay away from risky situations. It is amazing how many people put themselves in difficult circumstances and then wonder why they failed or are unduly tempted. Bars and dance clubs are particularly bad places for people who struggle with alcohol or lust or foul language. We must be smart.
And lastly, we shouldn’t isolate from the positive influences in our lives. Don’t miss church unless it’s unavoidable. When people tell me they can worship God without going to church, I can agree with them – a little. But we cannot serve God without being around His people. We cannot win at soccer by ourselves – we have to have a team to compete in the game. We can appreciate the game from home, but we aren’t players. It’s the same with church. We need our “teammates” to encourage us, challenge us, support us — and once in a while smack us upside our heads.