9/14/11

You'll Always Need Four Legs

Jennifer Rothchild's book Self Talk, Soul Talk spoke volumes to me about my need to identify negative self talk and replace it with biblical "soul talk."

"The truth is," she wrote, "our self talk actually begins to shape the life we live, affecting our very destiny.... Words are extremely powerful ~ even the ones you speak to yourself." (p. 13) Rothchild uses the analogy of a "Thought Closet," and how the thoughts we allow to hang there may not "fit" us as a child of God. She admits, "what I had been storing in that closest wasn't good at all: shelves and racks and bins full of hidden thoughts, secret insecurities, lies, illusions, and reminders of former failures." (p. 14)

Without her consent, her mind reached into the dark corners of that closet and retrieved boxes with ugly labels ~ "You're not good enough" ... "Nobody really cares," etc. I'm thankful for her transparency, because we all talk to ourselves, and sometimes our self talk is destructive.

I have spoken ugly, destructive words to myself since childhood. Words like "stupid" and "clumsy" float around my mind... phrases like "you're a nobody." It's been an ongoing struggle to be "transformed by the renewing of my mind" (Romans 12:1-2), and to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) to myself!

Rothchild reminds readers that our soul talk ~ telling ourselves the truth based on the Word of God ~ helps us blossom into the creatures God intended for us to be. Words of hope, peace, gratitude, perseverance, and other beautiful, edifying truths.

A favorite chapter is Chapter Six ~ Look Up: Hope in God, My Soul. Rothchild says to the reader, "Imagine with me" that you are a table with four legs. If even one leg is loose or damaged, the whole table becomes shaky and imbalanced, and "unable to perform its appointed tasks." Likewise, if one of the areas of our lives is loose, damaged, neglected, or removed, we will be shaky and imbalanced. "A damaged table can't possibly bear any extra weight, so when the stress and the load piles up, we wobble, lean, or just collapse," Rothchild said.

It's a simple-but-profound word picture, a reminder for us to keep our lives in balance. We come in all shapes and sizes, with different personalities and gifts ... but we are all "tables," and we need to keep our four legs strong.

So what are these four legs?

First, there is the Emotional Leg. Left to themselves, they enslave and deplete us, Rothchild said, so we need a thought closet well stocked with timeless truth, "or we will clothe ourselves with the feelings of the moment."

"Our problems usually have less to do with our circumstances than the way we choose to feel about them," she writes. So we need to be sure that we have the facts, that we think things through based on the scriptures.

Next, there is the Physical Leg. We need to be wise stewards of our body. "Never discount the impact of physical well-being on our souls' wellness," Rothchild said. "Feelings of despair might really be our bodies' signal that we need to meet some basic needs."

We need to discipline ourselves to get needed rest, healthy food, and moderate exercise.

And then there is the Mental Leg. "You have a power plant right between your ears. It's called your brain," Rothchild says. This often-neglected leg need to be challenged. We need to strengthen them with positive things to do, or they will create things to do that might not be so constructive. Our mental leg is weakened through boredom, a martyr complex, over-analysis, and other negatives; but fresh thoughts, especially biblical thoughts, can stimulate us and change our perspective.

Last, there is the Spiritual Leg. "A deep longing resides in each of us that only God can meet," Rothchild wrote. "Neglecting this longing doesn't make it go away. It will only continue to grow, and left untended, it leads to a sort of melancholy of the soul. You begin to feel homesick for places you have never been!"

The spiritual leg seems to be invisible, but "it is really the weight-bearing leg of the table," she said. "When this one leg wobbles, the whole table trembles."


Are you missing a leg? Is there a leg that needs to be repaired or replaced?

Rothchild encourages women who feel they "don't have a leg to stand on." It's a book filled with positive, powerful choices and it speaks to the subtle despairing of the soul. This woman who has found her hope in God offers hope to others, giving them a firm foundation in the Word.

Jennifer Rothchild, Self Talk, Soul Talk: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
(Harvest House Publishers, 2007), pp. 13-14, 86-87, 91

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