Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Controlled Burns?

In forestry and agriculture there are such things as "controlled burns."  A fire is deliberately set and maintained until reaching predetermined parameters.  It destroys everything within a certain area, which is the desired effect.  Then that area can be replanted or reforested, reclaiming it for something better.

I've been pondering if it is possible to have controlled burns with our negative thinking and have a positive outcome ... get it out of our system, so to speak, and move on.  I was hopeful I could come to that conclusion.  

Because sometimes, despite my usual efforts, I still lapse into negative thinking.  That was the case this past Sunday afternoon.  Sunday afternoons are a little rough for me, anyway, because I am too aware of the waning time to do what I want to do.  So I usually have to wave away a thought or two of sadness over the approaching end of the weekend.

But two days ago I just couldn't stop the negative flow.  Well ... to be truthful, I wouldn't stop it.  I indulged it.  I wanted to have a pity party, and so I did.  And I've been giving that "controlled burn" some thought. 

I wanted to be able to tell you that in my opinion it was OK to do that.  To justify it by saying it felt good and that I felt good after I shook it off.  But I really can't think of a single benefit.  It put me in a bad mood, and I know I was testy and irritable.  No doubt it raised my blood pressure and heart rate and who knows what else.  And what could have been two pleasant hours became a couple of disappointing hours.  I don't think indulging in my frustrations worked to my advantage in any way.

So it seems to me in the case of negative thinking that it's not helpful to vent-- venting won't really make me feel better and may very well harm me.  I need to remember that the next time I feel like wading in the mire of negative thinking ... and turn to God instead.

If immersing ourselves in negative thoughts happens, and we refuse to shake loose, the result is going to be lost time, lost enjoyment, maybe lost accomplishment.  We can't reclaim those moments like a field or forest can be reclaimed.  We can only move on to the next moments and work to keep them free from damaging negative thoughts. 

"...we take captive every thought to
make it obedient to Christ."
2 Corinthians 10:5

What we think ... matters,