It’s so obvious. But I will say it anyway.
My thinking affects my mood.
Thinking first. Mood second.
Where this becomes tricky to understand is that my current mood may have little or nothing really to do with my current thinking. I have to reflect back through my memory banks if I want to see connections. Sometimes this seems too scary a proposition, but this is the path toward improving life going forward.
Let’s keep going.
If I have been thinking about problems affecting me personally then the mood is worry.
If I have been watching crime stories on the news or reading about them online, then fear grows.
If I have been looking at my life compared with others, then jealousy and envy take root.
Just go down the list.
Perhaps I had an argument some time ago — yesterday, last week, ten years ago, in childhood — and it didn’t go well. I have regrets or shrapnel from sharp words have cut into my heart. From this, behind a smile mask, is a lingering melancholy that robs joy in living this day. Over time a mood like this can get baked in, and now I’m living with bitterness.
Eventually, whatever is down in that subconscious part of me bubbles up and affects my behavior. I’m short and snippy with those who don’t deserve it — perhaps in ways similar to how I was treated as a child and didn’t deserve it either.
Happiness, sadness, confidence, fear, robust health, chronic disease, all have a mental component to them. As a society we know this. It’s why many go into mental health fields to seek answers for themselves and others.
No, I don’t think it’s all in our heads only. No, I don’t think we can fix everything by good thoughts, but I do know this. . .
Whatever happens to me, those things I cannot control, can still be managed by what I think about them.
Ah, but there’s more.
What I want to think and what I truly think may be polar opposites. In other words my wish for a better attitude may overlay my deeper belief that I have a lousy, weak, permanently negative attitude. Think all the positive thoughts I want and it often still does not seems to matter, and the moods keep rolling on.
Which brings me to this, at least to me, important thought.
Prayer has the power to break my moods.
Why might this be?
Well, certainly God can take pity on me and instantly heal me. He has that power. However he has other ways of bringing me out of the Slough of Despond as well.
Prayer itself is a forced redirection of my thinking. It is opening my mind up to thinking in a different way. It enables me to insert little gratitude bombs into my own brain that can blow apart selfish self-centered thought patterns. It forces me to be quiet, to silence the voices in my head and to place them before God for his soothing touch and quiet affirming voice. To get there I simply bow my head, close my eyes, open my wounded heart, and cry out for help.
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.
Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.
There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”
You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
When I was thinking of the wisdom of today's message, these lyrics from a praise song came to mind. " Turn Your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." (lyrics by Helen H Lemmel).