Revised and edited from original context by Lisa Rene Delgado
March 27, 2019
The Companions in My Mind
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” John 15:1-4.
As I reflected more on companion planting, I thought about the companions I entertained in my mind, such as negativity and rumination. I felt hopeless, helpless, and stuck because the company I invited was resentful, with bitterness, regret, shame, and guilt. Self-pity was the guest of honor. The person I held unforgiveness toward was myself for allowing what I allowed. Although the signs of malice were evident on my ex-husband’s part toward me, I was in denial. I could not come to terms with the fact that someone would want to harm another; who thinks like this maliciously? So instead of confronting these things and making changes, or beginning pruning, setting boundaries, and becoming assertive, I was not growing.
The voices I listened to were against God’s knowledge, and if these are the kind of companions you have in your mind, these will be the kind of people you attract to yourself, even when you don’t want these people around you. So not only are they harmful to your soul, but to your health as well. Like the grub beneath my honeysuckle plant, these thoughts were sucking the life out of me.
As I thought through and thoroughly examined my heart, the Lord reminded me that the things I war against are the things that war against the knowledge of Him. Realistically, I didn’t know Him; I only knew about Him and did not have a relationship with Him. The only God I knew was the God I saw through the lenses of legalistic religion and rose-colored glasses. Jesus is a life-giving Father, and when I focus on the Gardener of my heart, He tenderly removes the sins that lead to death. I can see how He is working through any situation that arises against me; this keeps me from falling into self-pity.
How Do I Take My Thoughts Captive?
“Now I, Paul myself, am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you. But being absent am bold toward you. 2, But I beg you that when I am present, I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled”
2 Corinthians 10:1-6.
Notice that Paul is pleading and begging the people not to battle amongst themselves according to the flesh. As you read the whole chapter, which I strongly encourage, you will notice that the people were boasting and comparing themselves. The enemy also attacks our mind, such as comparison, jealousy, envious thoughts, guilt, and condemnation, which are not of God. Therefore, we have to destroy those kinds of companions from our minds. How? by asking the Lord to show you where you need to change and help you; remember He is the Gardener of your soul. Like the grub eating the roots of my tree, I had to find the root cause of my suffering, these foreigners invading the garden of my heart.
I struggled with this verse for a long time because I didn’t have the tools, nor was I aware there were any. So finally, instead of sitting with them and allowing them to cause havoc in my mind, I asked the Lord to help me, and He did. The first book He led me to was David Clark’s books CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and DBT, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.
Here I learned that once I am aware that the grub of negative thinking is trying to come back into the forefront of my mind; I can begin the Pruning Process:
I acknowledge it as not of God, give myself a time-out, and loudly rebuke it by saying, “No, not today, this is not God.” or I say, “Stop! Thank you for trying to protect me. It would be best to remember everything you have learned instead of ruminating about past mistakes.”
I also would pray to the Lord for perspective; nothing made sense, and He calms the storm in my heart; you cannot think straight with chronic anxiety. I also struggled with memory. Although my Endocrinologist told me Graves Disease affects memory. I also discovered that negativity and ruminating could cause memory loss in neuroplasticity. So if you don’t prune away negativity, your brain will do the pruning for you and keep what you use the most, which is the default.
Another thing I had to begin pruning was the people who tore me down, and I am not talking about people who gave constructive feedback to help me grow. The people I had pruned were those who falsely accused me of things, judgmental, condemning, dehumanizing, indifferent, marginalizing, and dismissive. Sadly, this happens in the family, but as you grow, you begin to see where you need to change how you treat them. I learned how to listen without interrupting and validate their feelings. I didn’t have to fix anyone, and by accepting myself, I found new friendships among family members I had never had before; my assumptions didn’t hold anything, and I liked learning who they were, not who I thought they were. Some will appreciate your self-awareness, and although painful, you repent and change your behaviors; this is good because it becomes mutual. However, I had to detach myself from my ex-husband while living in the same house, who was intentionally harming me. The Lord taught me the skill of staying well; it was imperative to my well-being. Not everyone can leave for many reasons, and the Lord was with me the whole time.
After several weeks of practicing CBT and DBT, I began noticing that the math I struggled with learning a year earlier while in school found its way to the forefront of my brain. That was because I made space in my brain by eliminating all the useless stinking thinking. Clark’s books also helped me think more clearly, and in my case of being gaslighted for many years, I could confront my opponent, talk things out peacefully and come to a solution. However, that is never an option for some because they will not take responsibility; this is called radical acceptance. They are like a grub devouring the whole tree, causing it to be fruitless. I admit I was not mentally or emotionally healthy either, and I have a lot of work to do, so I am not judging anyone. The only difference is wanting to get help and do the job. I had to pause, breathe, and pray before responding, which is a daily practice to search our hearts without reacting, or I walked away because some had already made up their minds about me or didn’t fully understand; sometimes, it is best not to confront. I also learned to walk around the pit instead of getting close enough to fall into it.
“See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursues what is good both for yourselves and for all.”
1 Thessalonians 5:15, NKJV.
Another book that helped me heal was Total Forgiveness by R.T. Kendall. After reading his book, I constantly reminded myself that regardless of the harm, I forgave those who wronged me and asked God to bless them.
Kendall talked about God’s blessing for them, such as giving them prosperity, happiness, etc. My first thought was, “heck no, I supported him for over twenty years!” I wanted revenge. I admit this was difficult because my heart was screaming for justice after my ex took everything from me, mainly my life! Finally, I realized through radical acceptance that he could never pay me back for the time he stole from me; I just wanted my life back, so I relented.
Recently, my ex-husband tried to harass me continually, it didn’t affect me anymore; he lost his power over me. As a result, I got the courage to get a restraining order, which is good for me and all affected by his constant harassment. Was it good that I sought the strong arm of the law to protect my loved ones and me? I think yes because although no physical harm was done, causing stress for others is just as harmful, if not deadly, over a long time.
Jesus says to pray for our enemies; we don’t know what oppresses them, but if you look deeper beneath the surface of their actions, you will see that they also need God’s gift of repentance and deliverance. Remember, we are not each other’s enemies; there is an enemy of our soul. So, although I will never return, I pray for the souls of those who have wronged me; it releases me from the lust for retribution, as George MacDonald prayed, “Lord, deliver me from the lust of vindication.” Then, we will all stand before the Judge and be held accountable for what we have done and said.
Finally, when carefully selecting my companions, I started seeing new growth in myself. Minor offenses didn’t send me off the wall; I did not personalize them either, and I learned to chalk them off by saying to myself, “they must have had a rough day, or didn’t sleep well.” And most of the time, I was right. Later, they would share something with me, and I would pray for them. By keeping myself free from the toxicity, I also began sleeping better and feeling better, and my attitude changed. I became more confident in my decisions, and if someone did not agree with me, it was ok; I followed through anyway because I trusted the Lord when I didn’t understand.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Clark, David, 2018
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Clark, David, 2018
Total Forgiveness, Kendall, R.T. 2010
Learning to love yourself is the greatest gift you can give to others
What good is a fruit tree that does not bear fruit and benefit others?
Jesus says, ‘Cut it down!”