“Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
I looked down into the bright blue eyes of my newborn baby boy. His red hair caught the crisp sunlight as it filtered through my dusty bedroom window. His fingers were perfect. His everything was just as it should be.
But he wouldn’t stop crying.
As a therapist, I’m no stranger to tears. Emotions have never made me uncomfortable. Like a storm chaser, I run toward the whirlwind of emotions rather than away from it. I’m not afraid of the storm — I was made for it.
So when my son was born, I wasn’t expecting to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated, anxious, sad, helpless and hopeless. I loved him to my core, but I was starting to believe that I was the worst mom in history.
The downward spiral continued. Around and around it went until I was a puddle of despair. Believing that I was a bad mom, that I wasn’t enough to take care of my baby, the baby boy I would give my life for.
My thoughts about being a bad mom would creep in when I would try to pray, and they would distract me when I was caring for my son. Like a song on repeat, I’m a bad mom was living in my head rent-free and tearing me into a million pieces.
In my job, I have seen how intrusive thoughts can grow tentacles into nearly every part of mothers’ lives: self-worth, relationships, careers and faith. Intrusive thoughts can tell us that we are worthless, useless, lazy and ugly. They lie. They cheat. They steal and destroy. Sound familiar? Good. Realizing how harmful these thoughts can be will tell us that it’s time for them to go.
And instead of letting those thoughts waltz in and take up residence in our hearts, we can evaluate the ugly intrusive thoughts using Philippians 4:8 as our road map:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.”
- Whatever is true: Is this a thought that is the actual truth? Do we have facts to back it up?
- Whatever is noble: Does this thought hold to a high moral standard?
- Whatever is right: Is the thought righteous, and does it encourage us to act in accordance with God's law?
- Whatever is pure: Does the thought lead us to purity, the action of seeking a life as a redeemed child of God and casting out sin?
- Whatever is lovely: Is this a beautiful or pleasing thought?
- Whatever is admirable: Does this thought deserve respect and attention?
- Whatever is excellent or praiseworthy: Does this thought deserve to be praised or put on a pedestal?
I used Philippians 4:8 as my guide with my intrusive thought — I’m a bad mom. This thought is not true, noble, righteous, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. The thought was hurtful, not holy.
Now, friend, I challenge you to do the same with your ugly thoughts. Apply the words of Philippians 4:8, and see if these thoughts are allowed to stay.
God, please help me when I struggle with intrusive thoughts. Show me what thoughts are not true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable or praiseworthy. Help me believe Your Word when it says not to think about things that don’t align with Your Truth. And, Father, help me let it go. When these thoughts surface, give me the strength to tell the thoughts to go away. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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For a practical guide to tackling intrusive thoughts, grab a copy of Rachael Elmore’s book, A Mom Is Born: Biblical Wisdom and Practical Advice for Taking Care of Yourself and Your New Baby.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” (NLT)
What’s one intrusive thought that has been living rent-free in your brain for quite some time? Pick a thought that does not meet the standards set by Philippians 4:8.
Write this thought down. Then list the reasons that this thought does not belong in your head or heart. Pray that the Lord would help you tackle this destructive thought, and share your prayer with us today in the comments!
© 2023 by Rachael Elmore. All rights reserved.
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