Words work wonders or woes. They’re penicillin or poison, scalpel or shrapnel, friend or foe. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).
You agree, right?
After all, who among us hasn’t struggled with PTSD—post-traumatic speech discomfort—after being hammered with criticism or slammed with sarcasm?
Or driven for days—top down, sunglasses on, wind in our faces—because someone filled our tank with a high-octane word of encouragement.
This isn’t just true for what others say to us. It’s also true for what’s called “self-talk”—the things we say to ourselves.
The Importance of Self-talk
How important is your self-talk? This important: you can change your life by changing your self-talk.
Let’s start with the FACT of self-talk. Around others you may be mum as an American POW being interrogated by his captors. But there’s someone to whom you talk from sun-up to sundown. You talk to yourself as much as rain falls in Seattle.
What makes this so important is the FORCEFULNESS of self-talk. Fictional lawyer Horace Rumpole’s wife’s name is Hilda. But Horace calls her “she who must be obeyed.” Our self-talk’s that domineering. It shapes us as the Lord shaped Adam out of the dust of the ground. It rules our responses by creating or recreating our moods and sweetening or souring our feelings.
Whether we act as Christians or unbelievers day in and day out depends on the way we talk to ourselves.
Tragically, too many of us engage in FOOLISH self-talk. We may confess the Apostles’ Creed in church but we talk to ourselves Monday through Saturday as though God doesn’t exist or, if he does, doesn’t care about us the way he says he does.
Here’s some dirty laundry from the foolish self-talk hamper: “I don’t see how God can say he loves me and let this happen to me.” “I don’t see how this can possibly be for my good.” “I’m just a sinner saved by grace.”
If this sounds like I’ve hacked your mental computer I’ve got good news for you. You can change. You can learn to talk to yourself the way a Christian should. “I can do all things through Christ” isn’t just a memory verse. It’s your reality.
Jesus will help you cultivate the habit of FAITH self-talk. That’s talking to yourself the way a Christian should.
How important is your self-talk? This important: you can change your life by changing your self-talk. @gfoministries
The Three Rs
If you’ll allow a personal testimony, I’ll share with you how the Savior’s helped me embed this habit. I call it the “Three R” method of changing your self-talk.
1. I resolved to change my self-talk.
By resolve I mean I was as determined, with Jesus’ help, to begin engaging in FAITH self-talk as a stroke-stricken man is resolved to speak again. Without this “I won’t take no for an answer” attitude you won’t succeed. With it, you will. And what better time to resolve “I will begin talking to myself as a Christian” than at the beginning of this New Year?
2. I engaged in recitation.
I wrote a self-talk script I call The Christian Attitude toward life. Here it is: through Jesus, my life is a grace G.O.O.D.: a God orchestrated opportunity for development and doxology. Then I broke that down into three sound-bite sized, easy to remember, sentences:
*Through Jesus, my life is a grace G.O.O.D.
*Through Jesus, today is a grace G.O.O.D.
*Through Jesus, this is a grace G.O.O.D.
I began (and continue) reciting my script to myself every day, all day long. In the morning (usually right after waking and before I got out of bed) I recited the entire script to myself. Then I began (and continue) going through my day reciting again and again, “Through Jesus THIS—whatever “this” may be at the moment—is a grace G.O.O.D.—a God orchestrated opportunity for development and doxology.”
So get a script. Take mine if you like it. Write your own if you prefer. But get one and begin reciting it TODAY!
3. I was resilient.
Learning to ride the Christian self-talk bike is hard. It takes time. You’ll skin your knees over and over. Sometimes, like me, you’ll forget to recite your script. Sometimes you’ll catch yourself spouting foolish self-talk with eloquence an atheist would envy. Expect that. When it happens ask the Lord to forgive you and help you get back on the bike again. He’ll do both.
Has this worked for me? YES! Telling myself “Through Jesus THIS is a grace G.O.O.D.” is helping me handle little things like interruptions, traffic jams, and a broken filling AND big things like the central air/heating unit needing to be replaced to the tune of $6,500 far better than I used to.
Again, I’m not perfect. But changing my self-talk this way is changing my life. I’m slowly but surely changing from the grace-denying pessimist I used to be to the Grace Focused Optimist God wants me to be.
Changing your self-talk will change you, too.