I often have overwhelming wanderlust, especially when I watch movies or read books – fiction and nonfiction – about those who go on adventures. I enjoy living the truth that not all who wander are lost.
Wandering can energize, especially physical wandering. Mental wandering, on the other hand, needs a bit more structure. The mental wandering that accompanies physical wandering, for example, usually involves increased creativity, inspiration, and motivation.
Mental wandering left to its own devices, though, too often results in what the Bible calls “vain imaginations” (Romans 1:21, KJV) and “dark and confused” minds (Romans 1:21, NLT). This wandering is often born out of loneliness, a neglect of God’s word and/or his people, and selfishness.
When I find myself wandering in ways that leads to foolish and futile thinking, a mindset that too easily leads back to the miry pit of depression, I deliberately turn my gaze toward what God wants me to think about. It’s a choice to not follow my feelings – not denying they exist, just not allowing them to control me – and to turn to truth.
“Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)
In other words, my thinking needs structure. It needs to not be fed by my feelings of loneliness, lack of connection, and self-centered wishing. I need to not act like I’m alone on a deserted planet where nothing grows and only a dry, pitted wasteland fills my vision.
The only way I know to do this is to focus on the true, honorable, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Facts over feelings. This starting point leads to gratitude and love and, eventually, purpose.
Feelings often don’t cooperate right away, but eventually they do. This is helped by not stopping with a deliberate choice to “fix your thoughts” but to extend that toward action.
“Keep putting into practice all that you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)
Find other believers – in person and in the Bible – who can lead the way to peace. Pray for your thoughts to be fixed and not wandering vainly. Maybe even go for a long walk or run and let the physical help you find balance with the mental.