How much time, on a regular basis, do you spend deep in thought? No screen in front of you, no textbook to guide you, no family member giving you their opinion, just you alone with your own ideas?
We live in a world that values speaking out about what you believe in. We all know this and it’s normal to see others expressing their opinions with posts, buttons, and bumper stickers, but do we take the time to ask ourselves what we have faith in?
If we speak without an understanding of our beliefs, all we do is add to the noise. Ask yourself, do I believe what I say? Or am I repeating what others say?
If you find that you don’t understand what you believe in, then you need to take the time to think. Consider what you have been taught. Ask people questions about what they believe and respect their perspective. Open a Bible and read what it says about topics you’re curious about.
This Topical Bible has a search bar you can use to find verses about any topic, but make sure to read the verse in context. Remember, every verse is part of a chapter which is part of a book which makes up the whole Bible.
There are concepts in Christianity that you will not immediately grasp, and there are some we might never understand. God is much bigger than our limited human minds can comprehend. (1 Corinthians 13:12, Job 36:26) It’s not our job to figure out everything about God, He reveals in His Word that He is good (Psalm 111).
How to spend time in thought
To start, pick something to ponder such as a Bible passage, book, future goal, or something you need to get done today.
Find a quiet place where you won’t get distracted by outside noise. If you can’t sit still and do nothing, then choose a simple activity to work on while you reflect. Some suggestions are puzzles, doodling, hanging out in the backyard or going for a walk.
Ask yourself some questions about what you chose to think about. How does this make me feel? What are some things I don’t understand? Where have I heard similar ideas? If you want to dive deeper in your critical analysis, find some differing perspectives than your own and compare them to your original thoughts.
Ever wonder why you have so many random thoughts in the shower? It’s because that’s probably one of the only places you can’t take your phone. With that in mind, while you think, purposely spend time away from things that normally influence your thoughts. Avoid your phone, video games, the internet, music, podcasts, and books. All of those things take up too much of your attention span to focus on your thoughts.
Two types of thinking to avoid
Be careful not to fall into these patterns of thought.
While I am encouraging you to “think for yourself,” I do not mean “rebel” or “believe only what I want to believe.” That is not the contemplation I am encouraging you to do, that is selfish thinking and based purely on one’s desires.
Proverbs 21:2 says “A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (NIV) God knows our innermost thoughts and the motivations behind them. When you reach a conclusion, ask yourself, “What is my motivation?”
The remedy for selfish thinking is to think of others. Take some time to think about your loved ones. What have you learned that you could share with them? How could you be a blessing to them?
For those who struggle with anxiety, their mind is their own worst enemy. Panicking, overthinking, and feeling hopeless might cause them to deliberately avoid spending time with their thoughts because it makes them feel worse.
Through my own struggles with anxious thinking, I have had to learn that I need to face it head on because it won’t go away on it’s own. But notice I didn’t say I had to face it alone — I had God, my family, and my friends to help me chase anxious thinking away. I learned to be open when I had anxious thoughts, even if I looked weak.
The second strategy for defeating anxious thinking is retraining your mind. Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV)
But wait, isn’t thinking a waste of time?
Some people believe spending time to reflect and process information is a waste of time. After all, it doesn’t look productive to sit still and do nothing. Wouldn’t it be better to actually do something?
Think of it this way: someone who acts without thinking is foolish, but someone who thinks without acting is useless. It’s not that one is better than the other, it’s that you need a balance. You need people who can turn good thinking and great ideas into clear action plans and well thought out goals and then perform them well.
Spending time deep in thought is not a waste of time, but you need to apply what you learn through studying into actions, whether immediate plans or long term habits.
It’s time to think
When you finish reading this, I invite you to turn off your laptop, tablet, or phone. Take out your headphones or turn off the music and go somewhere to spend time reflecting.
If you want, refer back to the list in Philippians 4:8 and see if you can come up with something for each word: true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
Go ahead, don’t stop to like this post or comment (though I love hearing your thoughts!), take the time to think.