We returned from out of town to an army of ants marching through our laundry room and over our kitchen counters. I don’t care to share my living space with these annoying pests.
Even though I don’t like ants, their visit benefited our family. They reminded us that we are vulnerable to ant invasion and even a lone ant now prompts a quick scan to make sure no inviting crumbs or spills are around. They have motivated renewed diligence in keeping even the outside of containers wiped clean. I am not sure if they are after water, food or a cool house, but I’m taking no chances and remind the family when they start to leave food out, “Remember the ants.”
It occurred to me this morning as I was wiping down cabinets that, “Remember the ants” works for my mental and spiritual health also. Dr. Daniel Amen, author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, calls our Automatic Negative Thoughts-ANTS. It is a good acronym. Can’t you just picture those black negative thoughts marching around inside your head?
What invites ANTS into your thinking? Stress, time pressure, certain personality types… I have found that my negative thoughts are more than irritating. They sabotage my faith and affect my attitude and how I treat people.
The scripture tells me to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Since nature abhors a vacuum, it is not enough to get rid of the ANTS, we must replace them by dwelling on whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). What would your and my day be like if we practiced this?
Recently I had an opportunity to practice fighting the ANTS by taking my thoughts captive. A miscommunication caused some misunderstanding between people I love. In the period that this was going on ANTS kept trying to darken my thinking but God kept me focused on His promise in Romans 8:28. I kept thanking Him that He had allowed this for His glory, my good and the good of all involved. I refused to listen to the ANTS telling me otherwise.
It was a tiring exercise, but it allowed me to experience peace in the midst of stress. And guess what; He did use it for good! Sometimes we may not see the good so quickly but if we stop the ANTS we can experience His love and peace in the middle of the chaos.
What situation draws your ANTS? This is your battleground. Don’t passively accept the ANTS. Take your thoughts captive and counter the negative with God’s truth. God’s provided the ANT killer; it’s our job to use it.
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JoAn Marshall says
Thank you for the message about ANTS. Negative thoughts can creep in slowly and grow so it really is good to have a reminder!! Prayerfully, I will use the “ANT killer” regularly. JoAn
Meade DeKlotz says
Good timing Debbie, the ANTS are really swarming in my head right now after a whole weekend with an exceptionally sharp tongued friend. The Lord used you to get my attention. Blessings!!
Carlene Crisafi shared your blog with me. This was a fantastic post. I will remember this when the ants begin attacking! God Bless, Kristin Bolling
Diane Allen says
JUST what we needed here at our house today. Learning to take every thought captive is the lesson learned most central to my mental health. I have heard of the book you mention, but have not read it yet. I plan to get it.
Now how do I teach this to my teenager!
EXACTLY what I needed to hear at this very moment!
Jerry smith says
Always encouraging and practical Debbie. Thanks and keep them coming.
I really loved and resonated with this truth. Now I have a visual reminder to break into my thought process when I don’t realize what I am doing to myself! I will be dwelling on these truths as I process this past weekend with old friends that were difficult to be around. Thanks Debbie!
Wonderful analogy Debbie. Remember the “ANTS GO MARCHING” song? Rarely are we with only one ant on our plate. Life would be so boring if we did not constantly pray (spray) for solutions to our troubles and situations. The whimsy of this pre-school song can be a reminder to not take our life so seriously and turn all our ANTS (angst) over to God.