Thursday, July 18, 2013

Curing Ugly

by C.J. Chase

My mind had been taking me to dark places of late. Oh, nothing dangerous like depression or suicidal thoughts. These were just…ugly.

I don’t know precisely when it started or even when I first became aware of them. I’d react to something I saw or heard with immediate, negative—and often personal—judgments about the people around me.

Fortunately, I was able to smile and say nice things even though my mind was formulating sarcastic and cruel words, so hopefully I didn't hurt anyone else. But as for me, it became rather bewildering and perhaps even a bit frightening, and I started turning similar damaging thoughts on myself. What a fraud—the “Christian” writer who’s actually seething inside with negativity and ugliness.

Where were these thoughts coming from? Was this a sign of what was truly in my heart? And why now? After all, the timing seemed especially unfair. I’d decided there were a couple areas of my spiritual life that could use some attention, and I was actively engaged in strengthening them. Instead, of growing in my walk, I was stumbling through mental darkness.

And that was my big “Ah ha!” moment. You know the cliché that if you’re not taking flak, you’re not over the target? Is there anything more dangerous to the enemy than a Christian who wants to deepen her relationship with God? For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV)

Almost as soon as I realized what was happening, the problem stopped. “When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies.” (John 8:44 MSG) But once you identify the lie and its source, it loses its power.

Perhaps ironically, my small group at church had just a couple months earlier watched a video with Gary Smalley and his nine verses that will change your life. All of them were about the influence of our thoughts on our relationships with others. Our attitudes and actions flow from our thoughts, so true change has to originate in the brain.

I’ll leave you with the verse I found the most powerful, the most useful—because I need reminded of this one frequently. Like me, you might even have memorized it in your youth—in the proper King James Version, of course, so I'll use the Message version here. “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (Philippians 4:8)

After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Her current release, The Reluctant Earl, is now available  in online bookstores. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at  


  1. Good verse, C.J. I made the mistake of watching a movie last night with my husband with too much ugly. Yuck. Didn't want some of those thoughts in my head.

  2. I love Philippians 4:8. It always feels timely. :)

    This was a wonderful post. I love how you expressed the struggle and the process of coming to the "aha" moment!

  3. Thank you for sharing, CJ. I'm very glad you had your Aha moment before it got too deep.

    It's so refreshing to hear the scripture in another version.

  4. This scripture has a special place in my heart because it was often quoted by a friend who taught me so much about Jesus. And yes, in the Message version, I recognized it immediately. :) Thank you, CJ. And think you for the great post.

  5. Love this verse. I think we need the reminder because our brains are like shopping carts with the wheels out of alignment... unless we work to correct them, they tend to veer off into the ditch. I hate spending time in the ditch!

  6. Well said! The 'enemy' loves nothing better than a passive Christian

  7. Very wise and I needed to read this.


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