Change the Channel

May 7, 2019

We all know how to change the channel on our TV.  If we see something we don’t like, big deal – grab the remote and change the channel.  Or say, “Hey, Alexa …”  Or, “Hey, Google …”  Well, we need to learn how to mentally change the channel – mentally change the channel when negative images of the past pop up in your mind.  Unfortunately, what do most of us do?  When negative memories come on the “screen” of our mind, instead of changing the channel, we pull up a chair and pop some popcorn.  We allow ourselves to relive all those hurts and pains, as if we’re watching an old movie.  Then we wonder why we’re depressed.  You probably know some people who thrive on self-pity.  They like the attention it brings them.  They’re addicted to the drama.  They’ve lived with their problem so long it becomes a part of their identity.  The truth is, some people really don’t want to get over things.  They like the attention too much.  Fifteen years ago … Fifteen years ago, Phil and Judy’s only son was killed in a freak accident.  It was one of those senseless, unexplainable accidents for which there are no words of comfort.  Family and friends hovered over the couple for months, feeling their grief.  They brought food and sent cards.  But months turned to years, and the couple seemed to harden in their grief.  No matter what anyone said, they just said, “You don’t know what it’s like to lose a child.”  Friends would call and invite them to dinner.  “We’re really not up to it,” they would answer.  Slowly, but surely, the comforters quit coming.  People stopped calling.  Family members avoided visiting.  But Phil and Judy remained untouched.  In their minds, nobody ever felt pain the way they did.  They would forever be known as the couple who lost a son.  Fifteen years … fifteen years … after the fact, Phil and Judy continue to languish in self-pity and self-induced isolation.  Why?  Because they don’t want to get well.  What am I saying to you?  If you’ve had some painful experience, don’t let that experience become the focal point of your life.  You’ve got to get beyond it.  It’s natural to grieve, but you shouldn’t still be stuck in the same place ten or fifteen years later.  Unless you let go of the old, God cannot bring in the new.  Remember, your emotions follow your thoughts.  When you dwell on painful experiences in your past, your emotions go right back there – and you feel it in the present.  You can relive something in your mind and feel it today just as vividly as when it happened twenty years ago.  One day a man was walking through his parent’s house … As he came to the family room, he started thinking about the night his dad died.  Dad had a heart attack right there in that room.  In his imagination, he could see it all happening.  He could see his dad on the floor.  He could see the paramedics working on him.  For fifteen or twenty seconds, he stood there paralyzed, overwhelmed by emotions.  Finally, he caught himself, and thought, What am I doing?  Where is my mind going?  Where are these emotions taking me? Right there he decided that he was not going to allow himself to relive that night again.  It wouldn’t do him any good.  It would just get him upset and depressed.  So, instead of dwelling on the hurt of the past, he purposely started recalling all the good times that he and his dad had shared in that family room.  Christmas mornings … family jokes … watching football on TV.  And joy began to flood into his mind. Now, notice it didn’t happen naturally – it was a decision he had to make.  I will change the channel.  I refuse to go back there emotionally.  I refuse to dredge up the pain of the past.  You and I need to do the same thing. 

Leave a Reply