Don't question the acronym just yet- we'll get there.
Ah yes- I forgot that I have a blog. This season is the perfect one to get it back up and running. I just love writing! You should love writing, too. In fact, I think that everyone should love writing, for multitudinous reasons. There's a multitude of ways one could write, in fact I almost wrote off on a tangent about that idea alone. I'll go ahead and write a seperate blog post for that direction of thinking. As for today's blog, I want to talk about one specific type of writing... journaling.
YOU need to start journaling, and here's why.
Are you an overthinker? I am an overthinker.
On occasion, it can be great, but majority of the time- it's the worst.
I will take every little detail of every situation and blow it up in my head.
You: *quickly checks your phone in the middle of our conversation* My brain: "Oh. Someone certainly texted you about me. Now you're thinking about the text- you probably want to stop talking to me. You're probably thinking all about how much you hate this conversation and how much you hate me. I should never have started this conversation with you to begin with. I'm such a waste of your time... " - you get the idea. I know, I KNOW, I'm dramatic. My overthinking is going to be the death of me. It causes so much unnecessary stress and chaos- all from hypothetical, worst case scenario situations that are in. my. HEAD.
Clearly, thoughts can run us down some seriously dangerous paths IF you let them- and that part is key! It can be extremely difficult to stop the initial thought, but it's what you choose to do with the thought that matters most. What do you choose to do with your thoughts?
A friend once told me "writing is externalized thinking."
Journaling gets intrusive thoughts out of our head, and onto paper. When we're writing, not only do we put the thoughts somewhere besides our brain, but we tend to organize them. And here's the Christian catch- bonus points if you journal in the form of a prayer! When you're talking to the Lord, you're even more cautious about how you articulate words and what it is that you're saying. You don't focus on the fluff, but rather get down to the root of your notion.
One of the most helpful journaling methods that I use to filter my thoughts is to send them through the "THRPLCEP" test. Yep, here's that weird acronym that I titled this blog entry after. I told you we would make it here ;) "THRPLCEP" is an acronym to remember Philippians 4:8.
Philippians 4:8: - "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable,
if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise,
think about these things."
In biblical context, here Paul is exhorting the Christians in Philippi with clear instruction as to how they should think. As Christians, we are to look to the Bible for guidance on how we should be living out our own lives. This verse is picture perfect for how the Lord wants us to filter our own thoughts- and we would be silly to ignore such clear instruction.
When I am journaling out my thoughts, in prayer I ask the Lord "is this thought true?"
(that question alone tends to knock out about 90% of my thoughts) but then I'll keep going... "is this honorable? is this right? is this pure? is this lovely? is this commendable? is this excellent? is this worthy of praise?" After asking myself these questions, and presenting them before the Lord, I realize that more than half of my thoughts are not worth dwelling on. Now that the thoughts are on paper and I've filtered them through THRPLCEP, I tend to feel a sense of relief.
Granted, I want to acknowledge that the relief is not always complete, nor is it always immediate. Negative thoughts don't always disappear like magic, even after you bring them before the Lord and recognize that they are not worth dwelling on. It's a step, but not the whole journey. As human beings we are emotional, and emotions are powerful and real to the one feeling them. If we recognize our emotions and bring them to God as a first step, we can then take the second step of submitting our hearts to Him, allowing Him to do His work in our hearts and direct our actions.
I like to finish my journal entries with a prayer before the Lord, ASKING him to take away any ungodly thoughts that I have just presented. Asking him to calm my spirit, clear my mind, and fill me with thoughts that are honoring to Him. Asking Him to align my will with His, whether that be to take away the emotions that are not of the Spirit, or for guidance on how to handle them if they are. God is faithful to answer those who ask of Him, those who come to Him in humble spirit and open hearts. It may not be immediate, but taking the steps towards Christ is one step closer to peace. Trust in the Lord- there is purpose to all things.
My prayer to you, the reader...
I pray that this blog post finds you well. That you will leave filled with The Spirit and encouraged to pursue godly thinking, being equipped with practical ways to do so. Prayer journaling has been such a valued pastime and comforting practice in this season of my personal life, and I pray that it would become a healthy practice in yours. I pray that implementing prayer journaling could be a habit of growth to you, that you may find peace in Christ and grow closer to the Lord through intimacy with Him. I pray that you will leave here feeling encouraged, motivated, and on fire for the Lord. I pray that the words of Philippians 4:8 would resonate and stick in your minds, that it may become a verse of day to day practice for you. I pray that God would work in you, and that your will may be aligned with that of our Fathers.
In Jesus name I pray,