This past weekend I was privileged to be a part of a panel discussion on “Caring for the Caregiver” at the 2014 Accessibility Summit. This is an annual conference that joins families, caregivers, faith based organizations, service providers and teachers who care for and support those with disabilities. We enjoyed meeting others who have a similar heart as we do for these amazing people.
During the panel discussion I touched on the power of our thought life and the tendency we all have to believe lies about ourselves, our children, and about God. The following are the notes I brought with me. I hope if you are struggling with Stinking Thinking that this will help you!
The Power of Stinking Thinking
One of the pitfalls caregivers have to be aware of is the power of “Stinking Thinking.” You know the phrase, you are what you eat. Well the same is true with your thought life. What you choose to think about and dwell on in this life will make or break you as to what type of person you will end up becoming in this life. Stinking Thinking is the result of not paying attention to your thought life and getting set up for failure by the enemy.
What are some examples of stinking thinking? Here are some Brenda and I struggled with as we traveled the journey of caring for David: We are all alone. God obviously doesn’t love us, if he did he would have prevented David’s disease or at least healed him. What impact can we have on this world if our whole life is made up of feeding, showering, dressing, and caring for David. And the more we allowed stinking thinking to rule our thoughts, the more we felt alone, the more distant God felt, and the worse we felt about “being stuck” caring for David.
So how do you stop stinking thinking? You have to become an expert at smelling lies. Now I don’t want anyone to raise their hands, but how many of you after wearing a t-shirt all day take it off, look around you to make sure no one is looking, and do the sniff test to see if you can fold the t-shirt and put it away for another day, or does it immediate have to go into the laundry basket? Come on, don’t look at me like I’m a freak! There isn’t a person in this room who hasn’t done that!
We have to learn to do the same thing with the thoughts that attempt to take root in our minds. The Apostle Paul encourages us to renew our minds in Romans 12:2 he says, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. I like how the NLT translates this verse. It says, “but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”
So how do we do renew our minds so stinking thinking doesn’t rob us of the life changing work God wants to do in your life as a caregiver? Here is a little tool I use that I robbed from the phrase we taught our children if they ever got caught in a fire: Stop, Drop, and Role. I’m going to change it to: Smell it, Drop it, and Roll into the Truth
The first thing you need to do is train yourself to smell the lie, to give it the sniff test. What are some of the lies we wrestle with as caregivers? Just shout them out. You need to become aware of the ones you are vulnerable to. If you don’t know if a thought you are wrestling with is a lie, ask a good friends or a pastor or a counselor what they think. You smell it!
Then you drop it. As soon as you realize you are engaged in stinking thinking you need to stop it and drop the thought. Simply say out loud or in your mind: I will no longer entertain this thought. I am going to drop it out of my mind.”
And then you roll into the truth. This is where you replace the lie with what is true. Thankfully God has given us his word, the Bible to tell us what is true. So for example when you wrestle with the lie, “I don’t think God loves me”, you smell it as a lie, you drop it, and your roll into the truth where for example in John 3:16 where it says,For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” You smell it, you drop it, and you roll into the truth.
Every time we have a family stay at David’s Refuge we tell them we want them to leave knowing three things; that they are not alone, that what they do as they care for their child is the most important thing in the world, and that God loves them. I hope you know this is true for you today!
(If you would like a list of verses Brenda and I use to remind us we are not alone, what we do matters, and that God loves me email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it to you.)