Anyone who has ever really tried to “take their thoughts captive” knows that they can be quite the wily fellows. Like trinkets on the bottom of a claw machine, a house fly in the dead of summer, a wet bar of soap or even a good man these days, thoughts can’t be caught.
But one year, I tried.
It’s hard to believe it was really five years ago, but my second year in Seattle I decided to give up daydreaming for Lent. The rules were as follows: I was to carry around a little notebook with me at all times and all idle thoughts focused on a desire for something more than what I had had to be recorded in it. If I thought about having more or better friends, if I fantasized about my swing dance teacher liking me back, if I dreamed of making tons of money after grad school or of one day becoming famous for something, all desires in excess of reality that popped into my head got written down. I directed my thoughts instead at that moment to be grateful for what I had and revisited the complete list at the end of each day.
Later in the evening I’d review each day’s list and write down the core thing it was that I sought—things like glory, to be desired, acceptance, validation, purpose, rest. I then looked up relevant verses and meditated on how God provided for all those things through Jesus. As the Lent season went on, I spent less time searching for scriptures (because I’d built up a bank of ones for recurring desires) and more time meditating on the sufficiency of Christ for all I was searching and hoping for. Not only did I come to love Jesus more through it, I came to be much more grateful for what I had as well.
Keeping a log of anything is hard; I can’t even keep a food diary and I only eat three times a day, or four, or twelve—who knows, cause I don’t write it down—so keeping track of my stray thoughts took real effort. But it was definitely worth it.
Whatever you’re giving up this season, I hope that it draws you nearer to Christ.