Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Importance of Our Thought Lives

Throughout my cancer journey thus far I have learned so many things.  One of the things that I have come to know is completely true is that our thoughts can either promote health or cause significant damage to our bodies and our lives.   I have had so much peace throughout this journey and actually feel great spiritually, physically (for a chemo patient) and mentally.  I attribute it to focusing on positive things and casting all of my concerns or worries on my heavenly Father.  I know for a fact that thought-life can be damaging, because there have been times that I experienced the physical effects of negative thoughts during this journey.

For example, although I know I am not supposed to look at prognosis statistics about my cancer, it's "advanced" status and my stage (of 3c), there have been a couple of times early on in my journey when I came upon these stats.  They were not good and I immediately felt physically ill upon seeing them.  There have been a couple of times when I decided to search the net for blogs of other fighters of similar stages of breast cancer to see some of their experiences with chemo, surgery, radiation, etc.  At times, when I would find a blog, one of the the first posts that I would see would be a eulogy posted by the cancer patient's husband.  Again, when I would see this I would feel a warmth come across my entire body (probably a hot flash), along with ill physical feelings.  These thoughts that entered my mind when seeing these things were toxic!  Normally, my personality tends to give my all into everything I do, being fully equipped with tons of information by doing plenty of research,  However, with this cancer I have decided to let the Lord lead and then I take a following role.  Thus, I stay away from scouring the web for information on breast cancer.  Instead, the research I have been doing has been focused on my wellness.  I want to do my very best to take care of this body God has given me.  That is my job.   God is taking care of the rest:  my treatments, orchestrating appointments with the best medical staff in the industry, etc.  He is in control and I can tell you that this gives me perfect peace. So, my goal is to keep my thoughts positive.  "You are being healed.  You are healthy, Heather" are phrases I try to constantly utter to myself. 

In Jordan Rubin's book, "The Maker's Diet", he goes deep into discussion about the importance of our thought lives in his "You Are What You Think" chapter.  As he discusses the placebo effect, he quotes Dr. Michael Jacobson, author of "The Word on Health: A Biblical and Medical Review of How to Care For Your Body and Mind":

In a typical study, it is expected that around one-third of the placebo group [the group of subjects who receive a "sugar pill" or fake treatment exactly like the real dose] will actually show as much benefit as if they were on the actual medication.  This improvement may be due simply to the positive physical changes that can take place when a person believes that he is getting better."

Rubin says that he is "convinced that if one hundred healthy people were told by a physician they had an incurable cancer and that they only had six months to live, approximately thirty of them would die--that's how powerful faith, even in the negative, can be."  I completely agree.

Many years ago I read a book by Joyce Meyer titled, "Battlefield of the Mind."   In her book, Joyce discusses the importance of our thought-lives, and how there is a constant battle in our minds, with Satan trying to claim victory.  She quotes SO MANY biblical verses about the importance of our thoughts.  Just to name a few:

"For as he thinks in his heart, so he is..." Proverbs 23:7
 "...it shall be done for you as you have believed..."  Matthew 8:13
"Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!" Isaiah 30:18

Satan attacks with doubting thoughts, fear and paranoia.  She summarizes the situation (with the support of Bible verses) as follows:

1.  We are engaged in a war.
2.  Our enemy is Satan.
3.  The mind is a battlefield.
4.  The devil works diligently to set up strongholds in our minds.  Strongholds are areas in which we are held in bondage (in prison) due to a certain way of thinking.
5.  He does it through strategy and deceit (through well-laid plans and deliberate deception).
6.  He is in no hurry; he takes his time to work out his plan.

Just like Luke's "guys" prepare to storm the toy castle, Satan devises a plan to conquer our minds with negative thoughts.
I know from experience this is all too true.  Satan has tried to gain ground in the battle through my cancer journey with little negative thoughts here or there.  But thankfully, because there are so many warriors in this battle constantly praying for me and because I am spending more time than ever talking to God and in His Word, Satan doesn't stand a chance.  To sum it up:  
  • Negative thoughts lead to negative fruit in one's life.
  • Positive thoughts lead to positive fruit in one's life.
Here is what has become one of our family's life verses recently:  “Do not fear, only believe.” (Mark 5:36).  We choose to cast away all negativity.  God is in control, and we believe what Jeremiah 29:11 says:   "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

There will always be troubles in this world.  But, the choice is yours in how you choose to deal with them: 

1.  You can drown in your troubles and negativity, having self-pity; or 
2.  you can try to look positively at them, asking God to teach you through your suffering, all along giving God the glory.  

  • "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4
  • “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
  • "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed." 1 Peter 4:12-13 
God has taught me so much through the suffering I have gone through in my life. In fact, suffering has in many ways been a blessing to me.  So, I just wanted to encourage others who may be currently suffering.  Try to stay positive and seek God.  Ask yourself what He is teaching you through this?  How can you glorify Him through your suffering? And lastly, be encouraged by Romans 8:28:   "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."  Squash all negativity and cast your fears on Him.  He already knows the end of your trial.  He is sovereign. 

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