Bad thoughts can’t control me

I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had seen. One afternoon, glancing over a family member’s shoulder, I accidentally glimpsed an image that really disturbed me. I spent the entire evening worrying about it. It was creepy, and I didn’t want to think about it. 

For years after I’d seen this disturbing image, the memory of it would trouble me almost every night. I would try my best not to think about it, but it never worked. The more I tried to force the image away, the more persistently it would return. 

Then one day, when I was on a trip, I realized something: The disturbing image was not my master. God was in control of me and my thoughts. And since God is only good, good was really all that had power over me. I knew I didn’t have to live in fear of this image anymore.

The more I tried to force the image away, the more persistently it would return. 

There’s a passage from the Bible that explains how I began to approach things after that. It says: “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). I realized that since God is on our side, it doesn’t matter how scary a problem may be; it can’t prevail. With God, we don’t have to live in fear of anything.

I realized that in the past, when I’d try to force the image away, it was sort of like giving the image power over me, because I felt like I had to battle with it. I learned instead to let the image go, because I knew God was with me, so there was nothing to be afraid of. As the Bible says: “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler” (Psalms 91:2–4). When the image came to mind, I didn’t try to fight it anymore; it simply fell away. 

I learned to let the image go, because I knew God was with me, and so there was nothing to be afraid of.

After that, the image no longer dominated my thoughts; I didn’t think of it every moment of the day, and I no longer felt afraid. I could see how, in a way, by being so scared of it, I had been making a “god” out of it. However, it was not a god, so I didn’t have to cower in fear. Not necessarily because it didn’t appear scary, but because I am under the protection of the one and only God. 

Because of this experience, I now know how to deal with intrusive images, and I feel more confident that God really is in control of my thoughts and my whole life.

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