He said something normal. You responded honestly and innocently. He said something else. You replied. He didn’t respond right away. You wait. And then hours turn into days later…still nothing. Crickets. Ghost. No return calls. Unresponsive. You wonder what happened.
And now the cycle of drama begins. The “what if” thinking. The “whys”. The analysis, speculation and pontification, re-reading the entire thread of text messages several months back, picking your brain for clues. Going over and over in your mind all kinds of things that could be wrong, trying to figure out what happened to make him suddenly stop communicating. Your emotions and mind run wild with a variety of scenarios – he has someone else, he is cheating, I made him mad, and on and on…
This is just one example of many, many ways in which our imaginations and unregulated thought life gets the best of us. It is not only the case in romantic relationships, but in just about every relationship situation and circumstances — platonic, family, work, business, ministry – everything.
Someone doesn’t like or respond to your post on Instagram or Facebook. They didn’t like/share/support or whatever.
Someone doesn’t respond to your inbox.
Someone didn’t speak to you.
Someone didn’t invite you to their gathering.
And the list goes on. What is going on here? How can we overcome our tendency to go down the negative path of rumination and anxiety when things like this happen?
The root cause is VAIN IMAGINATIONS.
Vain imaginations start off as “they think I’m this or that, they don’t like me, they did/said this because of this/that, she did/said/posted that because of this, he probably thinks such and such because of what happened here, she stopped texting because of that, she doesn’t call me because of this…she didn’t like/heart/share my post because of she is…” and so forth.
Vain is defined as producing no result; useless. Imagination is the faculty of forming new ideas, or images, or concepts; the part of the mind that imagines things.
Putting the two together you have images, ideas and concepts formed from the natural mind that are useless and produce no results. I would go as far as to say that they definitely produce results, just not the kind of results you want to see in your life.
Vain imaginations consist of mind movies, assumptions, downright lies, and wild fantasies that we make up in our minds. We can never truly know or understand other people’s reason or motives behind what they do. In a way it is prideful to assume that you know why people take certain actions that appear on the surface to be negative or that maybe they may not “like” you. It also speaks to a certain level of immaturity and being overly focused self and personal feelings.
The reality is as previously stated, we cannot tell or know what persons motives are unless we truly operate in the spirit of wisdom and authentic discernment or revelation.
Secondly, most people, 9 times out of 10 are very preoccupied with their own lives and have not truly paid you any significant attention. The fact that we engage in such endless mind chatter and negativity speaks to the fact that we still have growing up to do if we take things so personal.
Engaging in vain imaginations holds us back in five main ways:
- We lose our peace and clarity. How many countless hours of emotional and spiritual energy have been wasted trying to figure out why someone did or did not do something that could have been spent healing and ordering our own lives and working in our purpose? How much chaos and negative mind chatter has this created?
- Keeps us “in our feelings”. Negative mental chatter generates negative feelings offense. We have often heard the phrase “feelings lie.” It is true. If the thoughts that the feelings originated from are not based in reality and truth then feelings are not rooted in the truth.
- Forfeit authentic Kingdom connections and relationships because of negative mind chatter and being in our feelings. Taking stuff personal against someone that God put in your life for a particular season but because you are in your feelings, you sabotage and cut it off over a vain imagination in your head over a text message or social media.
- Fantasies in romantic relationships. When we allow our fantasies of our new relationship to run ahead of reality, it has the same effect on our mind and emotions subconsciously as if it were real. Where the mind goes, the body follows. We let our fantasies run wild and it has only been one date. Allow things to unfold naturally without the extra fantasies. This requires prayer and intention.
- Delays and Derails Your Purpose. Whenever we are caught up in faulty thinking due to vain imaginations, we cannot flow in God’s purpose because purpose requires clear thinking in the truth.
Another key nugget on mastering vain imaginations is the power that we have to choose the meanings we assign to different situations. We get to choose how we receive what we see, our reaction, the story we tell ourselves and the meaning that we assign to the situation.
In other words, if a person suddenly pulls away, or seems to be less interested in engaging with me on a friendship level, then I have the power to choose whether or not I want to spend days re-hashing everything in my mind, getting upset and psychoanalyzing everything trying to figure it out.
I get to choose whether or not I am going to get anxious and worked up because the man I was dating suddenly stopped responding to my texts and calls.
I get to choose whether or not I am going to “feel some kind of way” every time I see their post on social media or not.
I get to choose the story, the meaning and my response.
The trick is to choose the story, the meaning and the relevant response that is most uplifting, empowering and positive both to myself and to the individual in question.
In 2 Corinthians 10:5 we read that we are to cast down every imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought to the obedience of Christ. Until we can master taking ownership and controlling the story in our heads and the meaning, we will be forever at the whim of the vain imaginations that overtake our minds.
This week, I encourage you to be more observant of your thought life and the endless negative chatter. Notice the times you suddenly feel sad or angry and you were fine before. It will surprise you when you realize the origin was a vain imagination. Be prayerful and ask God to help you become more aware of your vain imaginations and to give you the power to cast them down.