Bye-Bye Relapse, It’s Time To Renew Instead

As God pulled me out of my relapse, He showed me that I must believe His Truth and claim the peace of mind that only He can give. But my other issue, obsessive negative thinking, had taken control of my life. I had struggled with this problem before, and I thought I had defeated it, but here it was again. In my mind, certain negative thoughts and situations played over and over again, like a broken record. But I did not want to go there again. I wanted to banish the obsessive thoughts and regain peace of mind.

I tried to remember how I had combated this obsessive negative thinking before. During my relapse, I had coincidentally been thrown out of my routine by family matters and had been too distracted and disorganized to follow my usual habits of quiet time and prayer. But then one morning, I had just had enough suffering and pain, so I made myself sit down and have a devotion time. I had finally remembered how to fight those recurring negative thoughts. I needed time with God.

When I gave Him the chance, God spoke to me in a very dramatic and providential way. My devotion book at that time was His Thoughts Toward Me by Marie Chapian. In one particular devotion, the author shared some thoughts that reminded me of how I had battled obsessive negative thinking in the past.

The Scripture reference for this devotion was Philippians 4:6-8. Of course! Those were exactly the same verses I had read and embraced when I had faced this problem before. I looked back in my journal and—guess what—there they were. I was reminded that I can never control what others do but I can choose to believe that God is in control. I have to believe that He will finish what He has started in my life as well as what He has started in the lives of others. I have to yield every thought to Him so that I can truly have peace of mind as I wait on God’s time table.

Philippians 4:8 commands me to control my thoughts. “Finally, brothers, 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” (NIV). So that is what I did.

On a piece of paper, I listed all eight attributes that God was instructing me to think about. Next to each attribute, I wrote a positive personal reminder about the loved one who was causing me so much suffering. Then I posted that list where I could see it every day, and I read and reread it for weeks. I actively practiced filling my mind with what was true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

Friend, come journey with me. Let us fill our minds with Philippians 4:8 and not with the cruel effects of this hostile world or with the evils and injustices of life. The enemy wants to defeat us through our obsessing over past hurts and situations, and he wants us to believe that we are not safe, that life is drifting uncontrollably. Dear friend, we are not going to fall into that trap again!

Instead, let us fall into the Savior’s arms. We are going to think good things. We are going to let God take control of those situations that threaten us. Let’s make that list of affirmations today. Let’s look at it and read it and believe it. Today, let’s change that ugly word relapse into the beautiful word renew. What about you? Is there a situation that you need to renew? Do it today. God is in control, and He can handle it. Give it to Him today, and live in freedom.

Standing On The Edge Of A Decision

Relapse. Slipping. Falling. An unexpected phone call had thrown me for a loop. I suddenly felt myself falling back down into the dark abyss of depression that had so long held me captive. Those bad thoughts that I had let control my life during the dark days wanted to take over my life again. When the phone call came, I was in my car, six hours away from home. I had six hours in the car by myself to mull this thing over.

I cried, yelled a little, and began questioning my ability to forgive. But God, in His infinite mercy, with His impeccable timing, began to speak to me in a number of ways during the long drive home. First, I found a Christian radio station and started singing along, and began to calm down. Then the music was interrupted by a short devotion about bitterness and forgiveness. Miles later, on a different Christian music station, another short devotion came on the air and—guess what—it, too, was about bitterness and forgiveness.

Okay, God, I am listening. You have my undivided attention. I know that I need to really forgive and to let the past rest in itself.

Today is the day to move on and, if need be, to forgive again. Feelings are so false and deceiving at times. I could hear my counselor asking, “What is the Truth?” The Truth is what I am to live by, not those misleading emotions. We must believe the Truth and choose to forgive, and eventually the right feelings will take residence in our hearts.

Then a song by Casting Crowns called “East to West” came on the radio. The lyrics spoke to me in a deep and meaningful way. In my relapse, I was drowning because I had fallen and had forgotten the Truth of what I had done, the forgiveness I had bestowed in the past. I had allowed the chains of yesterday to surround me again and to close my heart to forgiveness. I needed peace and rest, because I was not at peace. I felt only dread and hurt and pain. But I did not want to end up where I had been a year ago, at the beginning of my deep depression journey.

Those false thoughts swirled in my mind, keeping me anxious, and I knew that sleep would not come easily that night if I did not give them back over to God. The Truth is that I had already confessed my unforgiveness and that God had cast my sin far, far away. I knew I must cling to that Truth, but I felt myself standing on the edge. My choice would make all the difference.

My choice—either to relapse and fall back into the pit, or to forgive and remember the freedom in which I had been living for the last few months. As I pondered my decision, the lyrics of the song came back into my mind, and I remembered Philippians 4:4-7:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (NIV).

The peace of God—that is what I wanted! I wanted my heart and my mind to be guarded, but I could not do it on my own. I could only do it with God’s help and with His Word. I had to give this situation over to God and believe that He is near, no matter what may happen in the future.

Another thing that I heard from the song was that God had taken my sins as far as the east is from the west. I realized that I had to extend that same grace and mercy to this situation in my life. I had to forgive, because the price for my own sins had been paid by the scars on His hands. How could I do less?

Are you standing on the edge of some decision, in danger of relapsing and falling back into the sea of forgetfulness? Are you going to let those chains of yesterday surround you again and take away your peace and rest? Do not take that step! Stop! Turn around now and run to the Truth of God’s Word. Forgive, and let Him guard your heart and mind. It may be difficult, but I believe in you. More importantly, God believes in you, too. Let us choose to live in freedom today. Come with me now. I need your help.