I struggle a lot with my thoughts (specifically in the areas of depression/suicide), and have been told to ‘take every thought captive’. How do I actually do that? I’ve thought this way for years, how do I change?
This is a problem that I can absolutely relate to. The good news is that you are on the right path. Taking every thought captive is an excellent way of combatting these kind of thoughts. The verse you are referring to is 2 Corinthians 10:5 which says “…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Think about it a literal sense. When a police force or military take someone captive, the reason they do that is so they can question them. Say the police arrest a person for having stolen merchandise, they are probably more interested in getting information about who is dealing stolen goods then they are in busting one person for having bought speakers or whatever.
So when a thought flies into your head screaming “you never do anything right, everyone probably secretly hates you. You know how they say God loves everyone? well not you! Gosh you are just the worst.” Instead of letting it just lob that at you and then scamper off, grab it by the neck and ask some questions.
Those thoughts born of depression tend to be stinging, but they are only eggshell thin. Suicidal thoughts are the most extreme extension of that. The lie behind a suicidal thought is that it will never get even a little bit better. Of course that is ridiculous when you actually look at it. There are people who have been in worse shape than you that have bounced back, and at some point you have gotten better from a crappy time. Even though it doesn’t feel that way in the moment. Taking a thought captive is about grabbing it so you can look at it once that flood of emotions wears off.
Look at Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew 4. Satan is talking all kinds of stuff to try to knock Jesus off His path (and make no mistake that is the same who flinging those thoughts at you, and for the same reason). Jesus talks back to those thoughts. He takes a look at them and deconstructs them.
The lie behind most of the negative thoughts we have about ourselves is the same thing that Satan was trying to convince Jesus of: if God really loved you things would be different. Jesus knew that wasn’t true for Him, and it is not true for you. You are loved, forgiven, and God has a plan for your life. If a thought in your mind contradicts that, you need to grab ahold of it and find out what the deal behind it is.
The great news is that the more you do it, the easier it is to identify those funky thoughts and take their legs out from under them.
-Matt from The Bridge