Your Thought Closet Makeover

March 26, 2010 Jennifer Rothschild

Session Transcript

Jennifer Rothschild: If we didn’t have a chance to meet this morning, my name is Jennifer Rothschild. I live in Springfield, Missouri, and you came in here today, perhaps unintentionally, but what we’re going to be talking about is your thought closet. I have seen inside it (laughter) because it looks a lot like mine.

What we’re going to talk about this afternoon is learning to pay attention to what’s in your thought closet so you can wardrobe your life with truth. That’s what we want. What I’m going to be talking today about is going to be based on a book I wrote called Self-Talk, Soul Talk, which is a book about what to say when you talk to yourself. It’s also based on a Bible study which is an interactive, video-based Bible study called Me, Myself, and Lies.

So what I’m going to be speaking about today, to tell you the truth, I pulled some from Self-Talk, Soul Talk; I’ve pulled some from Me, Myself, and Lies, and then some will just be a surprise to all of us because I always ask the Lord to keep what I say fresh and still very grounded in the truth. So I have an outline in my head. That’s how I do things. I learn things in advance. I have a talking computer, a talking Bible. I memorize an outline, and then I just assume the Holy Spirit is going to fill in any blanks that there are.

Unless I get too verbose, at the end of our session, we’re just going to open it up for Q & A—questions and answers. So if you have a question and you have a bad memory, write it down so you can ask me at the end.

Last spring I had an opportunity to be a guest on the Dr. Phil show—not the one I’m married to, but the other one. The reason I was a part of that show was because Dr. Phil was featuring the only known set of blind, deaf triplets. He asked me to come and be a voice of encouragement to the mom and the dad. What a great opportunity. He was familiar with my book, Lessons I Learned in the Dark, and he even featured the book. What an incredible opportunity.

Well, because of that incredible opportunity, and because of the genuine kindness of Dr. Phil and his wife Robin (Robin and I were able to continue a friendship via email), when Phil and I were back in L.A. for another television interview, it was on a Thursday night, and we knew Dr. Phil’s show filmed on Thursday mornings. We talked to Robin prior, and said, “Could we just come—just watch the show being filmed—just for fun?” She said, “Yes.” She had it all set up for us and was even going to send us a car to take us to the studio. It was awesome.

Well, if you travel much, you know that your life is easier in and through airports if you travel lightly, and so I had done so. I brought two outfits, and two pairs of boots. One outfit and pair of boots for the Dr. Phil show and one outfit and pair of boots for the evening television show.

So that morning I got dressed very quickly. I was so distracted—it was just fun. I wasn’t paying very good attention and just in a hurry having fun. Phil and I scurried out of the hotel. We get into the car that Dr. Phil and Robin had sent. The driver’s name was Ian. Ian is from New Zealand. So, as we’re sitting in the back and Ian is driving, he is, of course, chit-chatting with us. He’s telling us everything about what we’re seeing in L.A. because he’s a really astute guy and has lived there a long time. It was a great education.

Well, while Ian was giving us the L.A. tour, I realized that my jeans that I was wearing that morning had gotten caught on the top of my boot, so I reached down to move my pant leg. When I did, my hand rubbed against the top of my boot. I realized, “Oh man, I meant to wear my red boots this morning, and these are bumpy, so I must be wearing my brown.” Well, I thought, “No big deal because brown’s a neutral color. It’s not a big deal.”

So I reached over to move my other pant leg . . . (Laughter). You are so smart! So, realizing I had on one red boot and one brown boot, and I was 30 minutes away from the hotel, there was nothing I could do about this.

So—married women will understand this—I looked over at my husband, and I kind of like punched him in the leg and I pointed at my feet with this look of like, “This is your fault!” (Laughter) Well, I expected from Phil at least a gasp of empathy or something, but instead, what I got was snicker, snicker. (Laughter)  And if that wasn’t bad enough, it was followed by the click of his camera where he was taking pictures. So before I had even gotten to the studio, my mix-matched boots were uploaded on Facebook. (Laughter)

So we get to the Dr. Phil show and I have small talk with the staff, and after a few minutes, when it was appropriate, I said, “Okay, I just need to show you this.” It’s embarrassing when you don’t have matching shoes, but when you’re blind and don’t have matching shoes, it’s even like more pitiful. So I wanted them to know that I knew, you know? So I lifted up my pant legs, and all of a sudden I hear from the staff, “Oh.” Empathy. That’s how you’re supposed to respond. (Laughter) So one of the production staff said, “What size do you wear?” And she ran and she got me a size six black pair of boots from wardrobe, and I took them home with me, girls. (Laughter and applause) Yeah! It pays to be pitiful, that’s what I’m saying!

But here’s what I want you to think about: The reason I’m sharing with you that story right here from the onset is because here’s what I want you to think about: The reason I was wardrobed as I was, was because of what was in my suitcase. The reason you are today wardrobed in the clothing that you’re wearing and the shoes that you’re wearing is because of what is in your suitcase, if you traveled, or what is in your closet.

The principle, more broadly spoken, is anything that you wardrobe your body with comes from your closet. Anything you wardrobe your life with comes from your thought closet. So if you, like me, are distracted, in a hurry, not paying attention, carelessly throwing things in and out of your thought closet, you may wardrobe your life in a way that just doesn’t work. You may not be living the life you intended because of what you’re saying to yourself.

Now, I will give you one disclaimer from the onset: This is not going to be a seminar about positive self-talk. This is going to be a time when we’re going to discuss truthful soul talk because it is scientifically verifiable, although I don’t understand how scientists did this, but it has been verified that everybody talks to themselves. In fact, your inner dialog consists of between 150 to 300 words a minute. That means if you put all those words together and let them hold hands and become sentences, then you are speaking to your own soul between 47,000 and 51,000 sentences a day.

Now most of those are very neutral, seriously. They’re very neutral—like, “Um, where did I put my keys? I cannot forget to go pick up the dry cleaning. I sure hope my husband let the dog out. I wonder if he let the dog out? I wonder if I should call my husband?” See what I’m saying? Neutral, not a big deal.

But, there is a powerful minority of words that we speak to our own souls that are not neutral. They are destructive. I am not going to use the word negative or positive. I’m going to use the words constructive or destructive. Many of the words that we say to our own souls are destructive. They do not add to your life. Many of the words that we speak to our own souls are not truthful.

Proverbs 12 tells us that, “As a man thinks, so is he.”

Loosely interpreted, “as a woman puts things in her thought closet, so is her life wardrobed.”

Whatever it is that you are speaking to your own soul inadvertently gets stored away in your own thought closet, and you wear it. You know people who are clothed in anger? It’s because they’ve got some lies or some bitterness in their thought closet. Do you know people who are clothed, who are just absolutely clothed with bitterness or sorrow or hopelessness? It’s because deep in the recesses of their thought closet, they’ve got a bunch of lies. Do you know people who are clothed with the garments of selfishness? It’s because they are sitting smack dab in the center of their thought closet.

It’s important that we pay attention to what is in our thought closet because, “as a woman thinks, so is she.”

John Stott was an Anglican minister, and I’m going to give you a long quote. I can already hear there are some papers and pens moving, so I’m going to say this very slowly. Then I will repeat it again for those of you who want to write it down. Okay? The quote is this: He said, “Sow”—as in plant—s-o-w.

Sow a thought; reap an action.
Sow an action; reap a habit.
Sow a habit; reap a character.
Sow a character; reap a destiny.

Now, I’m going to repeat it again a little faster. “Sow a thought; reap an action. Sow an action; reap a habit. Sow a habit; reap a character. Sow a character; reap a destiny.”

In other words, the life that you are living right now is a direct reflection of your thoughts. So what’s in your thought closet? Is it giving you the life you want? You see, some of the things in our thought closet are there because we haven’t paid attention, and they’re there because someone else gave them to us. Like a parent, or a spouse, or a former spouse. “You’re so stupid. You can’t do anything right. I knew you would fail. You’re a loser.” You know what I’m talking about.

Some of us have things in our thought closet, like names that we call ourselves. My name of choice was idiot. “You’re such an idiot.” Now, do you think I would ever call you that? Never! But I used to call myself that. How about you? What’s in your thought closet? Is it true?

So let’s pay attention to what’s in there because we want to make sure we don’t put ourselves in the same peril that Naaman did. Now, you might wonder, “What in the world does Naaman have to do with talking to yourself?” Well, girls, he did. He talked to himself, and what he said to himself put himself in a position to almost forfeit his healing. I don’t want that to happen to us.

If you brought a Bible and you want to look at it, or you want to write it down, we’re going to go to 2 Kings chapter 5, and we’re going to let Naaman be our guide through our thought closets. Second Kings chapter 5.

Now, while you are looking for 2 Kings chapter 5, let me tell you something about how I handle Scripture. Because I study, and because I listen to the Word a lot, I listen to different versions. So when I speak of Scripture, unless a miracle of God happens before us right now, I will not quote it exactly to the version that your eyes are looking at. So I want you to look at your version and read as I tell you what the verse says, and if you’re a note taker, I would love it if you would write down the verse I refer to. Okay? Because when I quote Scripture to you, you will get the New American International Abridged Version Jennifer Style. All right? (Laughter) So I want you to know that.

Second Kings chapter 5, verse 1, describes a guy named Naaman, and the Bible says that Naaman was the second in command to the king of Syria. Your Bible might say Aram. Same country. And he was a valiant warrior.

Now, before we talk about what the rest of the verse says about Naaman, let’s describe who Naaman was. First of all, when a Hebrew name is used, we always want to go and see what the meaning of that name is because it’s very significant. Naaman actually means “well-formed and beautiful.” In other words, he was a good looking man—almost as handsome as my Dr. Phil.

Phil: Amen! (Laughter)

Jennifer: So this guy clearly probably had the physical good looks: the physique, the face, the bone structure. He was a handsome dude. He was also politically very successful, clearly because he was the second in command to the King of Syria. He was the captain of the army. He was politically and militarily successful. He was at the top of his career.

But the Bible says at the end of verse 1, Naaman had leprosy. Leprosy, of course, was that dreaded disease of the ancient world. It was chronic. It was painful. And for a leper, not only did they deal with the constant physical pain, but they dealt with the social isolation that came with leprosy.

Leprosy is always a type, a picture, of sin because what leprosy does to your body, sin does to your soul. It’s corrosive. It’s chronic. It eats away. It brings pain. It never ends well. It brings social and spiritual isolation.

Now picture our good looking Naaman—politically, militarily successful, very intelligent, clearly, but he has leprosy.

So in verse 3, the Hebrew servant girl that belonged to Naaman’s wife said to her mistress, “Oh that my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria so that he could be healed.”

Well, that’s all Naaman had to hear. I can just see the guy pulling together his chariots and his retinue. I can see him draping laurels upon himself and all of his medals that show his success in battle, and there this honorable, dignified, intelligent, handsome man goes to see the prophet Elisha in Samaria.

Prior to him getting there, if you’re familiar with the story, and we’re not going to talk about this part today, he stops to see the King of Israel. He brings gifts. But by verse 9, he has arrived at the home of the prophet Elisha. Now when he arrives, he not only arrives with all of his laurels and medals from battle and his chariots and his retinue, but he arrives with some expectations in his thought closet.

His expectations were two-fold: When he knocked on the door of the prophet, he expected to give and receive honor because he was an honorable guy, and he also expected to receive healing. That’s it. That’s what he wanted, those were his expectations. They were based on desire, of course, but they were also based a little bit on pride.

You and I always need to look at what’s in our thought closets because if we have some festering pride in there, then it is going to cause us to make some choices and have some reactions that we may not have really planned on having. In doing so, we may forfeit that which is our deepest desire.

For Naaman, it was healing. So he knocks on the door, but instead of the great prophet coming out to give honor and bestow healing upon Naaman, the servant is sent out. The servant basically says to Naaman, “The prophet said that if you want to be healed, you need to go wash in the Jordan seven times.” Well, Naaman was mad. It violated his sense of pride. That’s not what he expected. All he wanted was healing and to receive honor, and he got neither, and he was mad.

You and I have things in our thought closet that we may not even be aware they are there until they are violated. I expect to be treated a certain way, and if you don’t, you’re going to ignite the fire in my thought closet, and I’m going to turn into an inferno. That’s what happened with Naaman.

As I talk about Naaman’s story, I’m going to bring up what I call the three R’s. The first one shows up here. It’s what I call recognize. We must recognize what is in our thought closet. Naaman didn’t. The enemy of your soul knows exactly what’s in your thought closet, and if you choose to be unaware of it, he will use those very things as the weapons against you. So awareness, recognition of what is in our thought closet is incredibly important.

In Matthew chapter 26, verse 41, Jesus says to His disciples, “Watch and pray because your flesh is so weak, but your spirit, the spirit is willing.” Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray.”

The Greek word for watch there really means “tune in, be alert, sober up, pay attention” because, you see, the enemy is quite aware. So you must be even more aware of your own weaknesses and the lies that you may have stored away in your thought closet.

So how do you begin to recognize? Think about the things that you say to yourself on a daily basis. Okay? “I’m so stupid. Oh, I gained another pound. I look so ugly.” Think about the things you say to yourself.

Now, ask yourself these questions:

  • Would you speak to someone you love in the same way you speak to yourself?

What if someone you really respected, like your pastor, or someone you just really look up to, what if that person got to listen in on all your thoughts. Would you say the same things, not just to yourself, but the things you say to yourself about others, or about your own expectations?

How about this . . . for those of you who are moms or grandmothers:

  • How would you feel, would you want to write down everything you say to yourself and everything you’ve stored away in your thought closet? Would you like to write all that down and give it to that daughter or son that you love and say, “Here, I want you to talk like this when you’re an adult”? No!

Begin to recognize what is in your thought closet because the enemy knows, and your unwillingness to just be honest and pay attention will give him the absolute weapons and battlefield upon which he can use those weapons against you for your own defeat.

That’s what was about to happen to Naaman. He didn’t recognize that he cared about his pride more than he cared about his healing. So the Bible says . . . and I think we’re in about verse 11 right now. The Bible says in 2 Kings 5:11, that “Naaman turned around in a rage, and he said to himself. . .” He began this inner dialogue where he said to himself: “That prophet, he should have come out here and called on his God. He should have waved his hand and healed my leprosy. That’s what he should have done.” Because it’s never about me. It’s always about everyone else and what they should be doing.

What’s in your thought closet? These are the expectations I have because it’s all about me and my needs, and if that man doesn’t act in the way that I expect him to, then I’m just going to be angry and walk off at least emotionally.” What’s in your thought closet?

Naaman was willing to walk away in anger because he didn’t recognize what was there. Now, once you begin to recognize what’s in your thought closet, that’s going to bring you to what I call the second “R,” and it is this, and it is what I wish Naaman had done right away: Refuse lies. Refuse. Refuse it.

If you are a woman who speaks truth, truth can always come into your thought closet. Truth can always come in, and remember, truth is always constructive. It may not be positive; it could be what we call negative, but if it’s truth, it’s going to bring you life. So it belongs in your thought closet.

So let’s just think about what happened to Naaman and what could happen to us.

Every thought has to knock on the thought closet door in order to gain entry. So when Naaman got angry, he began to talk to himself, and it was as if the thoughts went:

Knock, knock, knock.

And Naaman said, “Who is it?”

And the thought said, “That prophet! He should have come out and honored you!”

And Naaman says, “You are right, because I am a man of honor. I didn’t realize I felt so violated.”

And then the thought says, “Yeah, and not only that, he should have waved his hands and healed you.”

“You are absolutely right. I’m a valiant warrior, a good looking man, and I’ve got leprosy. That’s holding me back. I need to be healed. He should have done that for me.”

And then the thought continues: “And he wants you to go wash in the stinky Jordan River? You’ve got rivers in your country in Syria that are much better.”

“You are so right. Come on in, thought, because my rivers are better. He has violated my pride. So I, therefore, must protect it. So come on in, thought. You sit right here in my thought closet, and I will feed you, and I will entertain you.”

Now, it’s easy for us to have an attitude toward Naaman, but let’s take this home to us.

You’re working at your church. You volunteer so much, and suddenly you’re tired, and you get a knock on the thought closet door. You say, “Who is it?”

And the thought says, “Those women at that church. They don’t appreciate you.”

And you say, “Oh, you’re right! Come on in! You know me!”

And the thought continues: “If they appreciated you, they would say, ‘thank you.’ And did you notice how the pastor listed everybody else in the community, but he never said your name. He’s never going to notice what you do.”

“You’re right! Nobody ever notices.”

As you feed the thought, it encourages you to embellish the meal, and you say, “In fact, not only do those women at that church not appreciate me, my husband doesn’t appreciate me. I am not appreciated. In fact, I don’t think anybody has ever liked me.” (Laughter)

Now, you get the idea. The phrases are different; the issues are different. Everybody has their own weakness. That’s why we watch and pray, and we’re alert to what our propensities are, but everybody has this potential.

So what we do? according to 2 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 5, what we do is that the next time the thought knocks on the door: “Knock, knock, knock,” we act according to 2 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 5, and we “hold every thought captive, and we make it obey Christ.” That means you put a choke hold on that thought at the door of your thought closet, and you do not let it in until it agrees with truth.

So when the door of your thought closet is knocked upon (knocking sound), “Who is it?” “Those women at that church! They don’t appreciate you!” You have the choice to confront the truth, to confront the lie, whatever it may be, or to confront the reality that you just don’t know. You don’t know.

Women, we are chief Olympic athlete-style speculators. So if that thought knocks on the door: “Those women don’t appreciate you!” here’s how you can handle it: “I actually don’t know that those women don’t appreciate me. No one has ever told me that. I act upon what is known, not what I speculate upon.” You’re going to hold the thought, and you’re going to keep making it match truth.

“In fact, let’s suppose they don’t appreciate me. So, I do my work heartily as unto the Lord.” That’s truth. You can let that in.

Here’s another way you can look at that statement with truth: If you get that thought in your mind, and you’re saying to yourself, “Those women don’t appreciate me.” You know what? First of all, you don’t know. Second of all, it truly, in light of eternity, doesn’t matter. But thirdly, here’s the deal: It can hurt your feelings. You can have hurt feelings.

When I talk to you about speaking truth, I’m not talking about just putting on a Pollyanna because that’s not truth. If you feel like somebody has hurt your feelings, and you feel unappreciated, the Scripture says if you know—not speculate—but if you know your sister has something against you, then you go to that sister, and you make it right. But remember, the Word says, “If you know.”

There are a lot of things we need to work out in our thought closets between us and God before we ever take it out and make it public.

Once that thought agrees with truth, then it’s allowed in. When you begin to feed truthful thoughts into your thought closet, then your thought closet is filled with truth, and you can’t help but wardrobe your life in truth.

A woman who allows lies into her thought closet is:

  • wardrobed with a martyr spirit
  • wardrobed with hypersensitivity
  • wardrobed with pride
  • wardrobed with bitterness.

But a woman who allows truth into her thought closet is:

  • wardrobed with freedom
  • wardrobed with humility
  • wardrobed with compassion and empathy
  • wardrobed with others-centeredness.

Now, which of those lists do you want to be? Wow!

Naaman did not recognize and was unwilling, so he was letting lies into his thought closet that just fed his pride and were going to put him in a position to forfeit his healing, except for what happened in verse 13.

In verse 13, he was confronted by his servants. And for our purposes, I want you to look at this principle as allowing yourself to be confronted or drawn near to by your friends. Naaman’s servants came to him, and they said, “Master—in so many words—my father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, you’d be all over that. But all he told you to do was go wash in the river. So why don’t you go wash in the river?”

What happened in that statement was that Naaman’s servants did two things that were very intentional. They provide for us a model of how we are to be in community, a community of truth with our sisters. First of all, they spoke to Naaman with respect.

Some of you are a lot further along in your spiritual walk, and so if there is a person in your life that you’re given opportunity to draw near to, you need to do it as if it’s Billy Graham. You need to respect them with the same respect you would grant to the most revered pastor in your life or to the Lord Jesus Himself.

We treat people with complete respect. We don’t say, “I am the valiant holder of truth, and I have come to bash you on the head with it because I can tell you are wardrobed in anger, so let me fix you.” (Laughter)

Respect. That’s how Naaman’s servants approached him. They respectfully approached him. That’s when they said, “My father.” That’s respect. “Master, you are all that. We respect you. But here’s the other thing: We know you. We know you. If—if—if the prophet had told you something to do something that was really grandiose, you’d do that.  See, we know you, and you’re all about that. But he didn’t. He just asked you to do something humble, and you’re not all about that, and we know you. So, humble yourself.”

When we as women enter into communities of truth with each other, we need to do it respectfully and with intimacy. What that does for us is it gives us an opportunity then to engage in what I call the third “R.”

  • First you’re recognizing truth and lies.
  • Secondly, you’re refusing the lies.
  • But third, you can’t stop there. You must always rephrase with truth. Rephrase. Rephrase.

For me personally, one of my issues—and a friend brought it to my attention—was that I was hard on myself. I was a name caller. I will never forget the day I went to get my passport, because I was supposed to be speaking in Canada. This was just when the rules changed, and I had to have my passport to travel to Canada.

Well, for me, it’s kind of difficult to get errands done. I have to plan in advance so I can have somebody to take me, and, of course, I’m paying them to do so. So this particular day I went all the way, 30 minutes across town, waited in the long line, just to find out that I didn’t have the proper paper work. I decided I would go home, get the proper paper work. I had the pictures already taken. I set up another appointment with Helen, she was going to drive me.

Well, when the day came, it was a couple of weeks later, I get all the way to the post office, stand in the long line, get right up to the front. I have all the paper work, but my picture is not there. We leave the post office.

A week later, I make sure I’ve got all the paper work; I’ve got the picture. It’s all ready. Helen and I carved out some more time, and now my window of opportunity was getting small. I had to get this done in order to leave on time.

Hmmm. I waited in the long line. I hear the very apathetic Federal worker say, “Next.” That was me! I was thrilled. I was finally getting my passport. I handed him all my paperwork. I was, like, proud of myself. I stack it in front of him, and there’s my picture, and he said, staring clearly into the paperwork because his voice was drowning into the desk, “Where’s your birth certificate?”

“It’s there, isn’t it?”

“Nope. You gotta have a birth certificate to get a passport.”

“I know you have to have a birth certificate, sir. It’s there, right?”

“Gotta have a birth certificate to get a passport. Go home and get your birth certificate.”

Well, that’s how I felt. So I leave the post office. I have no idea where the birth certificate was. I’m walking to the car, and I said, “Idiot! What is wrong with you? You can write books, but you can’t get a stinking passport! Everybody knows you’ve got to have a birth certificate. Idiot!”

And I caught myself as that word was dangling at the door of my thought closet. I refused it entry, and I reframed, relabeled it, rephrased it with truth. And here was the truth that I relabeled it and rephrased it with: “You’re not an idiot. You’re 45 and forgetful, but you’re not an idiot. (Laughter) In fact, Ephesians 2 says that you are the absolute workmanship of God, and clearly the workmanship of God has days when they are forgetful, and it’s okay.”

So I, through self-discipline and the grace of God, left idiot outside and ushered in the workmanship.

Now, yes, I got my passport, and I’ve been to Canada twice, and all is well. But the point is this: You can’t just stand at the closet door and leave a lie hanging there because it will work its way back in. You must rephrase it. You must relabel it with truth so that truthful statement becomes the new habit.

For me, that has pretty much run true. I will say, there are days if I’m not walking in the Spirit, I am fulfilling the desires of the flesh. Unfortunately, the desire of my flesh is to fall back on that old habit of saying lies to myself. That’s just the truth, girls.

Naaman had the opportunity, because of his friends, because of his servants, to make a decision: to speak truth to his soul instead of just hang on to the lies and forfeit his healing. And that’s what he did.

I’m encouraging you to make sure you are in community with someone. It might be a group of women, but at least it needs to be one woman that you can tell the truth to. She knows about you. She treats you with respect; you treat her with respect. You know each other intimately enough to recognize each other’s strengths and weakness so that you can handle each other’s strengths and deal with the weaknesses.

I have a good friend named Lisa. We talk on the phone every two weeks because we don’t live in the same town. We ask each other three questions, and they help each of us with our areas of weakness so that we can be alert, for our flesh is weak, but our spirits are willing.

Here’s the three questions that we ask each other to help us keep a thought closet full of truth. First question: What do you see in my life that encourages you? What do you see in my life that encourages you?

You see, that’s what the servants did with Naaman. They said basically, “Dude. You’re amazing. If he’d asked you to do something great, you’d have done it. We’re encouraging you. We see that strength in you, valiant warrior.”

What do you see in my life that encourages you?

Second question: What do you see in my life that you would like to caution me about?

You cannot have that conversation unless you’re being utterly and completely respectful toward each other and there’s intimate knowledge of each other.

What do you see in my life that you would like to caution me about?

That’s what Naaman’s servants did. “You know, all he asked you to do was wash in the river. You’re about to forfeit your healing here because you’re being prideful. We’re cautioning you.”

What do you see in my life that you would like to caution me about?

Third question—this is for the legal experts in the room. It’s the catch all: What else would you like to tell me? (Laughter) There are some of us that know how to work our words in such a way that those two questions can be asked without being answered. What else would you like to tell me? What else would you like to tell me?

Using those three questions with my friend Lisa has helped both of us grow, not only individually spiritually, but it’s helped us grow in relationship with each other. She’s a trustworthy friend who can say anything to me, and I will hear her, and I will trust her, and I will also trust her to never say it to anyone else.

So be wise, women. You need each other. Isolation is never a healthy way to try and clean out your thought closet. You need each other. We need each other. That’s why I am so heartily recommending Bible studies. We need to be together, not just in a coffee shop bashing people or our husbands, which can happen if we don’t have guided questions and truth in our thought closets.

That’s why I so recommend Bible study. Not only does it provide you an opportunity to become more grounded in the Word, but it gives you that safety net of how to behave as a godly woman with each other.

So those are the three questions.

Naaman, thankfully, responded to his servants, and he went back to the Jordan, and he washed seven times. The result was that he was healed. By the time he got back to Elisha’s door, I think you’re now at about verse 18 or 19, he approached the prophet very differently than he did the first time because this time when he approached the prophet, he said to him, “My father.”

You see, he now wasn’t expecting all the honor and the praise and the healing. He’d not only been healed by the river of God; he’d been humbled by the river of God.

That’s why we stay in the Word. You will never speak truth to your soul if you don’t know truth. So we stay in the Word so that we know truth. We are washed in the river of God’s Word so that we’re healed by that truth, so that our thought closets are flooded and immersed by the truth, so that we’re wardrobed with truth. The result is a woman who’s not only healed but humbled.

There is no more beautiful wardrobe that you can wear than that of the garment of humility. It brings honor to our Father, and it becomes a bridge through which we can enter into other people’s lives.

I have no idea what’s in your thought closets, and this, clearly has not been an exhaustive look, but this I know: We all have some things in our thought closets that we know doesn’t belong—lies we’ve told ourselves; lies we have been told that we choose to believe; destructive habits of name calling or self-talk that we know do not result in us living the vibrant, free, liberated life we really want.

So I encourage you to do some inventory.

  • Recognize what is in your thought closet.
  • Refuse the lies.
  • Rephrase or relabel every lie with truth.

The result will be that you will have a thought closet full of truth.

Last verse I want to share with you is Psalm 19, verse 14. Psalm 19:14 is the prayer that my sweet southern grandma used to pray all the time. Now, let me tell you the context of her praying this, okay? She lived in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and her tea was so sweet, and her accent was so sweet, and she was always giving me grandmotherly admonitions. You know, like, “We don’t hate them. We just hate their ways.” You know, that kind of thing?

Well, she used to always quote to me this verse, and it was her prayer. It might have been, too, that she recognized in her granddaughter a propensity of using words. And, of course, your greatest strength is going to be your greatest weakness. Perhaps she detected that, but here’s what’s really funny about my sweet southern Maw-Maw. She would be sitting in front of the TV with an RC Cola and a moon pie at 1 o’clock in the afternoon watching The Days of Our Lives. (Laughter) And she’d say to me, “Jennifer, let the Words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to Him ‘cause He’s our strength, and He’s our redeemer.”

That’s the verse I want to leave you with because the words of our mouths are not only the ones we speak to each other. The words of our mouths are the ones we speak to our own souls. If we have received Christ, then He should be in the very center of our thought closet, and we do not need to pollute where He is enthroned.

“Let the meditations of my heart”—that’s those things you dwell on, that you ruminate over, that you think about all day, those thoughts that keep swirling through your mind. “The meditations of my heart, let them all be acceptable to You.”

If it helps you to imagine Jesus standing in the middle of your thought closet, that may help you recognize what you’re saying to yourself. You know why? Because what is acceptable to you, based on your habits and your fallenness, chances are, are not acceptable to Christ. So make Him your standard for what you say to yourself—what is acceptable to Him.

And then also, girls, let’s let Him be our strength, because He is. We don’t muster up enough will power to say all the right things and do all the right things all the time. No. We fall heavy on the strength and the grace of God to redeem every lie and turn it into truth because He is our standard, and He is our source for truthful self-talk.

If you want to know, of course, more detail and more depth, that’s why I mentioned at the beginning of our time together the two books: Self-Talk, Soul Talk—what to say when you talk to yourself book—and the Bible study, Me, Myself, and Lies. Those will help you go deeper into this subject, but as we finish up our time, and we have. It appears we have about 15 minutes, I’m just going to open up the floor for questions.

My friend, Theresa, is going to have a mic so that we can hear you if you would like to be heard, and if you have any questions, just get her attention.

Theresa Wiggins: Does anyone have a question? Yes. What is your name?

Stacey: Stacey.

Theresa: Jen—Stacey.

Jennifer: Hi, Stacey.

Stacey: Hi. I have a quick question. It has to do with what about people who sometimes give little digs. Then it kind of fosters that thought process. How do you handle that? Any suggestions?

Jennifer: Um. That’s hard. Here’s the deal: I believe that if we love each other and have a respectful relationship, we confront with grace and truth just like Jesus would. So if you’ve got a sister who always chooses to put in a little—you know how come people can compliment with an insult? “Oh, you don’t look as fat as you used to!” You know what I mean? (Laughter) You know her!

I believe it is the righteous response to point it out and say, “That may work for you, but did you notice, that doesn’t work for me.”

If the sister doesn’t grow from that and begin to change and fall on to God’s grace, then perhaps that’s not a relationship you need to spend time with. I’ve had to do that. I think we all have. I think there are some people who do not bring out your best.

I have two really good friends in Georgia, and the way they talk about their husbands . . . This is like 20 years ago, okay? The way they’d talk was like nothing I’d ever seen in a positive way. I had a bunch of girlfriends who would bash their husbands, and then there was Catherine and Laurie whose husbands could do no wrong. Well, it really impacted me, and I realized I needed to stop hanging out with the husband bashers, and stay with the women who were kind to their husbands.

You don’t mean to, but you can get poisoned. So that’s just what I’m thinking about it.

Okay. I have a little gift for Stacey. Phil?

Phil: Okay.

Jennifer: Go give her something, honey. (Laughter)

Phil: Okay.

Theresa: Jennifer, we have a question from Marie.

Jennifer: Okay. Stacey is going to get a Fresh Grounded Faith devotional. So if you lose your friend, you’ll have something to read. (Laughter) Hee, hee. Just kidding, sister. All right. Theresa, who’s next?

Marie: Marie.

Jennifer: Hi, Marie.

Marie: Hi. First of all, I wanted to say that I’m in a small group Bible study with a lady who’s blind, so I look forward to sharing some of your truths with her.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Marie: And then also, I’m curious as to someone whose children are approaching the age of getting married, your husband’s parents’ acceptance of you. It was for your relationship, and we believe they got a jewel with you as their daughter-in-law, but maybe that wasn’t their vision of their son marrying a blind lady.

Jennifer: Phil?

Phil: Yes, honey?

Jennifer: Why don’t you grab a mic and answer that lady’s question? Do you want to?

Phil: You know what? I actually don’t know if I heard it all.

Jennifer: All she asked was, was your momma and daddy concerned that I wasn’t maybe their ideal for you marrying a blind woman? What did your parents think about that? How did they feel about that?

Phil: It really didn’t matter because I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God had orchestrated events for me to marry Jennifer. I knew He had equipped me and had prepared me for her. (Applause) So whatever they said fell on deaf ears.

Jennifer: Woo Hoo! But they didn’t say anything. Here’s the deal, though, Phil.

Phil: Yes?

Jennifer: We have two sons, and I think something Phil said, mothers in the room with sons, respect your sons. Respect them and allow them to work it out. Don’t disrespect them by badgering them: “She’s not what I wanted; she’s not what I thought; she’s not good for you.” (Laughter)

Theresa: Jennifer, we have a lady by the name of Diamond. She has a question, and she’s from Georgia.

Jennifer: Hi, Georgia Diamond. (Laughter)

Diamond: Hi. Actually, I’m from Florida.

Jennifer: Oh, Florida! (Laughter)

Diamond: I live in Georgia. My question is what do you do or how do you handle it if your thought is the truth, and your situation is based on a sin you know you committed, and you just keep beating yourself up because of that?

Jennifer: Oh, that’s called guilt. That’s a very good question, very legit. I think all of us in this room have done things we deeply regret. Here’s the thing: God forgets our sin, but the enemy never does. So if you’re being constantly reminded, “Remember when you did such-and-such? Remember when you blew it? Don’t you hate yourself for that?” That is not coming from the Lord because according to Psalm, isn’t it 105 or 110? “He forgets your sins.” He is the perfect forgetter. God is.

The enemy has a memory of steel, and he’s going to keep reminding you. The only thing I can suggest is to remind you of that truth that, if it comes up in your mind again, God forgave you, and that is enough. Therefore, if it is brought up again, in the name of Jesus, you send it packing.

This morning I was struggling with some thoughts, and this was the passage I meditated upon. I could see Peter and Jesus, and Jesus looks at Peter, and He says, “The enemy is trying to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you.” And so this morning I said, “Jesus, I feel like the enemy is trying to sift me like wheat. Pray for me. You sit at the right hand of the Father, forever interceding. This is bigger than me, so help me.” And I believe He’ll do the same thing for you, Diamond. I believe He will. You just fall on Jesus. (Applause)

Let’s give Diamond something.

Phil: Let’s give her, Lessons I Learned in the Dark.

Jennifer: Okay, Diamond is going to get Lessons I Learned in the Dark. That’s good. Hey, you know what, Diamond, there’s a chapter in there called “Remember What Matters.” You read that.

Theresa: Jennifer, over here, Trisha has a question.

Trisha: Hey, Jennifer. I have twin boys that are six, and one of them frequently believes lies. He says, “I’m stupid. I’m not smart.” How would you encourage, how could you teach someone like that?

Jennifer: I have a little one who is very sensitive. One of the things I would say to him when he was little—and please take this in the right spirit—I would say this: “You’re not allowed to talk that way to someone I love.” For a six year old, in their concrete thinking, I think that helped, because things are still very black and white. There are rules, and one of the rules is: We’re not allowed to talk bad about people we love. We’re not allowed to talk bad about anybody, but it hurts. I would, as a mama, say, “I love you, and that hurts me. Please don’t say that about yourself because that hurts me, and you’re not allowed to talk ugly about yourself.” That’s just one of the things I would do with Clayton, our oldest, when he was really little. It seemed to help, but, you know what?

It probably means you have a very intuitive child. Keep him on the path of truth, there’s just going to have to be a whole lot of truth spoken because he’s intuitively grasping, and that can be his greatest strength. It really can.

Theresa: Jennifer, we have Phyllis from Owensboro, Kentucky. She has a question.

Jennifer: All right.

Phyllis: Hi, Jennifer. Thank you so much for everything. I loved your singing. I can’t wait to pick up your CD later.

Jennifer: Thank you.

Phyllis: I would like to ask you: We have a beautiful couple at our church in Owensboro. The wife is blind, and they have two beautiful babies. I love speaking with her. They’re in a prayer group with us, and she’s just so refreshing. She seems to see things in a way that I never could. So when we have our fellowship meals or whatever, she always wants to ask me these most direct questions like, “Phyllis, would you be the one to tell a lady her slip was showing?” I said, “I sure would! I would want her to tell me.”

Jennifer: That’s right.

Phyllis: She’d just ask those real direct questions. So I always try to give her the most direct questions I can. Do you think that is the best way to be with people who have disabilities? I mean, she’s learned our voices. She knows me by the rings I wear on my fingers and stuff like that. She’s just the most precious thing in the world, and the whole church loves her. But the most touching thing she ever said to me was in the nursery when she and her husband Patrick first started coming. She had a little baby boy named David, and I said, “He has the most beautiful brown eyes.” And she said, “Can you describe the color of brown to me?” I said, “Oh Lord, what do I say to her?”

Jennifer: You say it looks like chocolate.

Phyllis: Oh, I wish you would have been there, Jennifer. (Laughter)

Jennifer: Hey, Phyllis. I love that, and I think that’s a beautiful way to close this because you asked the question: “Is it good to be direct with someone with disabilities?”

It’s good to be direct with each other period, abilities or disabilities, because here’s the thing: Sisters need each other, and we need to be a community of truth, and we need to be humble toward each other, vulnerable, yet wise. To me, it is unkind not to be truthful to someone. It is disrespectful not to regard them highly enough not to speak truth to them. You just do it in love and proceed on your knees in humility.

I’m going to hold the hands of my friends, and we’re going to pray, and I want you to hold the hands of your friends next to you, and let’s just pray as we leave.

Father, thank You for women who love You and love each other. Thank You for friends—old friends, new friends. Thank You that we’re all on this imperfect journey together, but that You perfectly orchestrate every moment.

I pray that You would make us women of truth, who speak truth, who believe truth, who wardrobe our lives in truth. We can’t do that unless You give us so much grace, Jesus. So please give us grace. We want to be like You, full of grace and truth. In Your name we pray, amen.

Glad you came, thanks! (Applause)

Leslie: The message you just heard was presented at Revive Our Hearts’ True Woman ’10 conference in Chattanooga. You can hear any of the messages delivered there and more by visiting www.truewoman.com. There you’ll find even more ways to connect from books and resources for yourself, your friends, or your life group to on-demand multi-media to ongoing conversations you can be a part of.

True Woman ‘10 is a ministry of Revive Our Hearts, helping you become God’s true woman.