The Antidote for Noise and Isolation
From the series Get Out of Your Head
If there are two words that would best describe this society, they’d be “noisy,” and “isolated.” In this message, guest teacher Jennie Allen continues her series “Get Out of Your Head.” She explains that like never before we’re flooded by sounds and distractions… and yet we’re more and more disconnected. So how can we survive? Join us to learn more...
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About this series
Get Out of Your Head
What drives your thought life? Is it anxiety.. loneliness.. feeling like the world’s out to get you? Perhaps you’re really pessimistic or obsessed with being recognized. Whatever it is, do you feel trapped by it? Like no matter how hard you try, your mind still drifts back to these ideas? In this series, Jennie identifies 7 common thoughts that are actually toxic to our lives, and can derail our connection with God. Don’t miss how to break free from these dangerous mindsets - by wielding the power God’s already given us. Let’s learn how to fight back and win the war for our minds.More from this series
We live in the noisiest generation that has ever been, no generation has had to deal with more inputs than ours. So what does it look like to shift the spiral? And I want to define the spiral.
So throughout the book, the idea of a spiral is how we have actually built out all of these chapters. So when you look at this chapter on stillness, you're going to see this spiral that says discontent is this emotion I feel. And then the thought that you have is I'll feel better if I stay distracted and we're watching this spiral of an emotion hitting a thought, a thought, hitting a behavior, a behavior, hitting a relationship.
And those spirals are going through our minds all the time. And what God wants to do is He wants to shift the spiral from a negative spiral that's spiraling down. He wants to shift it to one that's going up, one that is going toward Him, but that interruption and that distraction that constantly has you pulling away from God, that distraction is our responsibility. We have a choice to change the way we think, but we have to choose it.
I tell my kids this all the time, but I think sometimes we need a parent telling us the same thing. Bossing us around just a little bit. And so when we were thinking about a title, I said, you know, the thing that that I want to happen is I want to be able to grab everybody by their shoulders and speak as clearly and boldly as I can to them.
Because in the midst of a spiral that's been constant in your life, you need somebody to just grab you by the shoulders and say, “Hey, stop like you don't have to do this anymore.” And so that's going to be a lot of how I speak to you. So bear with me. I'm a really nice person in real life, but I care about you and I want you to be free.
And so I want you to picture me right now, grabbing you by the shoulders and saying to you, looking you in the eyes and saying, you have a choice. You don't have to spiral out. We can set up things that can limit our time on Instagram. We can set up things that limit the noise in our lives, but we have to choose it. We have to choose it, and ultimately we have to choose the truth, the truth that is going to cut through the noise that is going to cut through the lies because all that noise isn’t ambient, random noise.
That noise is feeding us lies. It's feeding us ideas about our worth, ideas about what we need to be happy, ideas about our relationships. It's not like that noise is just subtle background noise, elevator music. That noise is telling us things and most of what it's telling us is lies. And so we have to see it that way. We've got to do a better job of surveying our lives, noticing our inputs and noticing the things that we're believing because of those inputs.
Scientists have found that brains of the people who spend hours in prayer and meditation alone are different. Your imagination gets rewired. When you're relaxed, anxiety and depression actually decrease. Several studies that demonstrated that subjects who meditated for a short time showed increased alpha waves, the relaxed brainwaves and decreased anxiety and depression. You guys, this changes our brains and so yes, what scientists discover about them happen to reflect the brilliance and power of that design that God built. So you ready? I'm going a mama bear you.
I want you every single day. I want you to put your Bible by your bed and I want it to be what you read before you grab your phone. I want you to read it every single day because it matters that much because this is how we go to war. This is how we fight better. In the middle of the night. I told you about that season of doubt. And in the middle of the night, one thing I did was I bought this little light that could clip on my Bible and I put my Bible by my bed and I put that little light on it because I didn't want to wake up my husband, but I just had to start reading truth. And so what I would do is I would go to a Psalm that I love, that my kids had memorized when they were young at their school, and I wanted to memorize as well.
And so I would open it up to Psalm 139 and it talks about if you go down to the pit, if you go down to Sheol, He is there. And if you ascend to the heavens, He is there. That there is nowhere you can go away from God. And that comforted me because my fear was in the middle of my doubt was that He wouldn't be in death, that He wouldn't be in the gray, that it would just fade to black. And, and guys, I had to fight that with truth.
That is how God is fighting for you right now. That book that you are, you feel burdened by that you think, Oh, it's an obligation I have to do that. You know I've got too much to do. That book is God fighting for you, fighting for you to be more free, fighting for you to know Him more in His love for you, more fighting for you to understand how much He has done and how much He wants to do for you. That's what this is.
And so when we receive that, there is a relationship that's built. It's not about us checking something off a list. It's like, gosh, my God is there. I want to be with Him. I want to know Him. Psalm 84:10 says, “for a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” Do we believe that? Do we believe that time with God is better than any other place we could be? It is.
The only place I have ever felt true peace, it is with God and especially peace in the midst of difficulty, but even peace in the midst of a morning, or anxious thoughts, or worry. Y'all, He just desperately wants us to be free of the lies that we are choosing to believe.
Some of you don't know this, but God really likes you. Like He likes you. I think about my son in the morning when he has been a brat the day before, but he comes down and he's going to ask for breakfast and he's 11 years old and he's just hard and I love him so much, but you know, he's just, he gets in trouble.
And so he's coming down for breakfast and he turns the corner. And you know what I feel, almost every time he turns that corner, is how much I like him. I like him, I like him. I don't just love him. I don't just need him to do something for me. I don't - I like him. And I think that's the thing we miss about God is that He likes us. Yes, He's fighting for us. Yes, He loves us. Yes, He sent His Son to die for us, but He also delights over us. And I think as we fixate on that, all of a sudden we want to be with that God. We want to enjoy Him. We want to experience His delight over us and we want to be with Him.
My daughter is so great. And the reason she's so great is because she has walked through a season of doubt and realized that God is true, too. And I just want to tell you that this isn't like some great parenting skill set that got Kate where she is. This is her own faith journey that she had to go through with God.
And what Kate will do when she's going through a dark season is she won't watch Netflix, she won't listen to podcasts, she will just turn on sermons and she lets these pastors, there's about a handful of them fight for her and she listens to them and she listens to truth because she knows if I watch Netflix right now, I'm going to fill my head with more lies.
And so a 17 year old, I mean you can imagine how convicted I am. I walk in at nine o'clock at night and she's in her bed and I think she's watching Netflix and I look and she's watching sermons like this is how Kate is who she is, is because she will not settle to be stuck in bondage. She allows people to fight for her. She allows God to fight for her because she puts truth in. She doesn't just listen to lies all day long. She knows the value of inputs.
We have to realize the value of our inputs and we have to realize that whether or not we're choosing them, they're coming for us in the form of lies all day, every day. And guys, this also applies to our kids. We've got to fight for them. They're getting inputs every single day, all day long. My sweet 11 year old boy goes to a public school and you cannot believe he's such a talker.
He comes home and tells me everything that he's heard that day and I'm like, this is worse than an X-rated movie. Like this is fifth grade at public school. My kid is being bullied on certain days. I'm sure my kid is bullying on certain days, but I'm just saying the inputs in his life are legit. They're dark and they're legit, and all of our kids are fighting more darkness than we can understand and we've got to fight for them.
How do we fight for them? We give them the same truth that we have to have. We sit over them. We read scripture over them. Yesterday morning Cooper had had a bad day at school and I pulled him on my lap. I said, I want to tell you, I've been praying for you and I know we talk about Jesus a lot, but I want to tell you about grace again because grace has changed my life and I think it is the greatest gift that God's given us.
And I just started talking him through it. And I said, today, when you feel frustrated with people and you feel bullied, I want you to think about grace. Like I just want you to think how much God likes you and that that's enough. And you know, I think he was distracted, but I'm fighting for him anyway. I mean, that's what we've got to do. We've got to fight for ourselves and we gotta fight for our people.
Have you ever heard of something called mirror neurons? So this is when you're sitting across from somebody else, a friend over coffee, let's say, and your mirror neurons are all firing and what that looks like is they share something with you and they have a very sad face and all of a sudden you mirror their face.
You are sad with them. That's coming from something in your brain that is telling you physiologically to empathize with them. And, you guys, we’re built for this. God put that in us because He knew that we had to do life together, that we couldn't just live on these isolated islands going through our junk and not connect with others. We are physically hard-wired for connection.
When I look back at those 18 months that I was struggling with doubt and I mean it really turned into a crisis of my faith. But where I gave in to that attack and where I gave the enemy way too much power is that I was completely isolated.
That I never brought anybody into it. I never said out loud the thoughts I was thinking. I never told my husband, I never told my small group who I met with weekly, y'all. I was in deep relationship with people. I could have said it out loud. I could have even texted. I have friends that they wouldn't be mad if I texted them in the middle of the night when I was under attack.
But evil is subtle and it comes for us and we barely notice, in fact, evil loves to not be noticed. It wants to sneak up on us and it wants to tell us things and, and it doesn't want to be noticed. And so for 18 months I didn't notice it. I just sat there in it. But as we notice our thoughts and as we notice the lies that we've been believing, we need to say those things out loud.
Now some of you are thinking it's not a lie, it's true. Well you don't know. Let me just say, as someone who lived in my brain for 18 months with the devil telling me lies, I didn't know what was true and what was a lie. All I knew was my thoughts were, you know, all over the place. And I was having a lot of discouraging, doubtful thoughts. But I didn't even think about it. I didn't think that this was attack.
And if - the second I said it out loud, chains begin to fall because the second I said it out loud, I realize one, how stupid it sounded that I really do believe in God. I don't believe the lies, I don't.
And then two, it was so clear I was under spiritual attack. The second I said it out loud and the other thing that happened, if you’ve read the book you know, I had some pretty incredible friends that began to fight for me. And they began to fight for me as if my life and faith depended on it. They did not take it lightly.
And you guys have to know how vulnerable that was for me, for me to receive these dear friends, Esther and Ann praying and fasting, like not eating for 24 hours for me, like that just felt so hard to receive. But I was so desperate that I said, okay, and I need this. And so for 24 hours, all of us, we fasted and we prayed, and I look back and I don't know that I'd be free without those friends fighting for me without my small group fighting for me.
As I shared with them when I was going through, I had a small little bitty army that fought for me, my husband at the top of the list. Once he realized what was happening, Oh my gosh, he would wake up and pray for me. He would pray before we go to sleep. I mean we have to have those people that that love us, that know us, that we can call at any hour that we can tell anything to. We've got to have the people that fight for us.
I remember one of my friends from Austin, she confessed one time to me that she had been having feelings for another man and she told me that when the first time she confessed it that she never had feelings for him again. He was married and she was married and she said the second I said it out loud, it was like it lost all its power. Guys, that is what we're talking about. We're talking about an enemy who knows that if he has us alone in the dark, then he has us.
But if we bring people into it, we bring and invite people that love Jesus into it, all of a sudden we have invited the truth and the light into it and no longer are we alone with the devil. We have people fighting for us.
1 John 1:7 says this, “but if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, His Son cleanses us from all sin.” If we walk in the light, Christ is in the light. We have fellowship with one another. It's where life happens in the light. It happens in community. It happens in local churches. It happens in small groups. It happens in small Bible studies.
This is what we have to do, but the truth is most of us, even if we have some of those things in place, we aren't actually confessing our sin, and that's a part of this is we have to say it.
When John's talking here about the light, he's talking about confession. He's saying you bring things to the light. Don't hide them in the dark and why do we bring them to the light? 1 John 1:7 says, because the blood of Jesus, His Son cleanses us from all sin because He has power over the sin and we experience that freedom.
Now I believe my sin would have been forgiven if I'd never brought it into confession and into the light, but I don't believe I'd experience freedom on earth. I don't believe I'd be reminded of that forgiveness. I don't believe I'd be reminded of the truth of God unless I brought people in and that's why we move to the light. Not because our salvation depends on it, but because our freedom on this earth depends on it.
That's how it goes. We need people to fight for us. We need people that are fierce and that are warriors and that'll just get their hands dirty like fighting for us. When we say the lies that are in our heads, they'll fight for us with the truth, but we also have to be those friends.
And if any of you are wondering why you don't have those people in your life. There's a lot of reasons for that. There's a lot. Relationships are hard and we usually quit them as soon as they get hard and the best ones have been through a lot of hards, so we can't quit when it gets hard because that's actually building the depth and the maturity of the relationship.
There's a lot of reasons that we don't have deep, close friendships, but we can always shift that. And the best way to do it is to be that person first. So, who can you fight for today? I want you to call a friend, to text a friend and say, let's go to coffee and I want you rather than bringing your needs to the table, even though some days that's obedience and vulnerable and what needs to happen, I want you to fight for them.
I want you to tell them, make them listen to this and say, listen, we're going to do this. I'm doing this for you. We're going to go to coffee for an hour and for an hour you're going to talk about your mind and your anxious thoughts and your worries.
Now let me tell you, certain percentage of the time it won't go well. It won't. Like you'll tell that friend and they'll be, they won't know what to do with it, then maybe they've never confessed sin themselves. Maybe they have their own issues. Who knows? And they'll backpedal and they'll change the subject, not your friend. Okay? Guess what? I know this is hard, but you go try again.
You don't give up. Why? Because we cannot live without each other. And as you fight for them, they're going to see a new way to be a friend. They're gonna see a new way for freedom to unfold in their lives. And you know what's cool is when someone does that for you, you start to do it for them. So go first.