Penny for Your Thoughts?

Reflection: Ps 94:11; Ps 139:1-4; Matt 12:33-37; Rom 7:21-25; Hebrews 4:12

It is Biblically correct to claim that what comes out of our mouths reveals what is in our hearts. It is also true that what is in our hearts is dreadful wickedness. However, we do have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, and that ought to make a genuine difference in the way we think and talk, except that our ‘old man’ is still flexing and shrieking, and ‘he’ can be obstinate, even to the Apostle Paul!

It is insightful to listen to children communicate as they speak their minds unabashedly, devoid of the grease that facilitates adult conversations. And even when their thoughts surface as being discourteous, they take them in their strides. Conversely, for adults, because of the deceitfulness of our hearts, what often seeps out of our mouths has been filtered by our cultivated social graces, and it surfaces as polite conversation. What we really would like to say is rationalized away. However, what lies beneath some interactive conversation is like the unseen portion of an iceberg, below the waterline, that is likely to wreck our relationship with our Lord and others in the long term. I am referring to our silent thought-life. Let us call this ‘talking to ourselves’, whether audibly or mentally, internal conversations or dialogues.

Having spent a couple of decades counseling the mentally ill, I realize that some of our misguided internal conversations do contribute toward a developing pathology in mental health. These thoughts do capture our imagination, and if they remain internalized and unspoken, certainly do have a life of their own. The outcome can be crippling. Unraveling them after years of nurturing a misrepresentation is perplexing and painful. David’s internal musings of Bathsheba, and Saul’s obsessions with David’s fictional betrayals are some tragic illustrations. So these things cannot hurt us as long as we do not speak them and as long as we keep them inside is a rather significant lie!

Generally, most of our internal dialogues remain benign and just irritate us sporadically. But if the negativity remains unbridled it will ultimately form the soundtrack of our lives. And what goes into our hearts make us who we become. The two common internalized conversational issues that most grapple with is pride and inequity. When our sensitivities and entitlements are transgressed, our blood pressure trajectory can immediately cloud our reasoning centres within the cerebral cortex, placing us in ‘a fight or flight’ disposition; from cursing and name calling (habitually under our breath) to outright anger tantrums (especially when we are on our own), and thereby shaping our moods, sometimes permanently.

We may be alone with our thoughts, but we are never alone. The Word hears our every word, spoken and unspoken. What can we do with our unedifying internal discourses? Be mindful of them. Put the brakes on immediately. Talk it over with God, and, if necessary, bounce it off someone whom we trust and who will listen empathically. Mindful journaling can be beneficial too.

Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life (John 6:68).