For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
—2 Corinthians 10:3-6 NIV
How well do you handle criticism and unwarranted attacks from others? I’m not a fan. I’d love to say that I am able to easily put others’ words into perspective, let go of what is not true, and ask for God’s help when there is truth in their words. I’ve taught this idea before, but when I am the one under the gun, all my great advice flies out the door and the monkeys come running in.
Several years ago, I was challenged to take 20 minutes a day to sit with Jesus…to not bring a to-do list or a litany of requests, but to make space for God by allowing my mind to settle and my heart to focus on Him. This sounded so easy–almost too easy–until I actually sat down to do it. I found that making space in my mind was theoretically great, but the reality of wrangling my own thoughts, aka monkeys, was exhausting. I found my mind making dinner plans, writing emails, having a conversation with my husband, calling the exterminator, trying to refocus, and then judging myself as a “True Disciple Failure” for not being able to sit and just be for 20 minutes.
Add to the general chaos that dances between my ears, criticism from others. The words move from cute monkeys bouncing from limb to limb to full-grown gorillas destroying the jungle. I can ruminate, argue, defend, or shame myself when I’ve been criticized ad nauseam. Paul in 2 Corinthians was being attacked by others as being weak, a poor communicator, not dazzling enough compared to the “better” disciples, and yet in that space, he reminds us all of a couple of truths. The first is that there is a spiritual battle going on in our minds. All. Day. Long. But we have qualitatively different weapons—ones that can actually destroy strongholds—wrong beliefs, lies from the enemy, lies from within.
Second, we can choose to demolish the arguments that don’t line up with what God says. But before I can destroy the argument/shame/unwarranted attack, I need to quiet the monkeys screaming their heads off in my mind. I need to make space to listen. To sit by myself for 20 minutes, reminding myself that I am His daughter, I am loved, I am forgiven. And I can follow that time with a question, “Jesus, what do you think of me today?” And then I can repent, or forgive or let it go, or do whatever it is that the Spirit is telling me in that moment…not from a place of panic or pain, but from a place of experiencing peace with the Lover of my soul. Easy? Hardly. But somehow over the years, the monkeys have learned that captivity to Christ is a better place to live.
ACTION: Give it a try today…find a space and time to sit for 20 minutes so that noise can quiet down in your mind. Try to put off the many thoughts (monkeys) and ask Jesus to let you enjoy sitting with Him. And just listen. You might find some space in there after all.