Talking to yourself is not always crazy. In fact, quite often it is downright essential for mental health. Becoming fluent in positive, healthy, truthful, Scripture-saturated internal dialogue should be a high priority for all of us. Talking to yourself is an important life-skill that requires practice, careful consideration, and perseverance.
The New Testament exhorts us to “set our minds on things above” (Colossians 3:2), to “think about” things which are “true… noble… right… pure… lovely… admirable… excellent or praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8), and to “consider” certain truths about ourselves that we might not want to believe (see Romans 6:11). The Old Testament admonitions to meditate on God’s word (e.g., Psalms 1:2) require far more moment-by-moment focus than just a daily reading of the Bible for a few minutes.
At certain times (when wrestling with unrelenting pain, encountering persecution, struggling with doubt, or various other trials), the need for persistent internal dialogue rises to the level of urgent. We must win arguments with ourselves because the alternatives can spiral in terribly destructive directions.
Recently, I found a helpful (and rather humorous) written out internal dialogue that C.S. Lewis penned. It is one of four “scraps” found in God in the Dock, a collection of Lewis’ writings about theology and ethics. Apparently, this short paragraph appeared in a church’s magazine. But one has to wonder if Lewis might have been experimenting with a form that could have expanded into a whole book full of such internal conversations. In some ways, the fuller work might have proven to be as helpful in handling internal struggles as The Screwtape Letters has been for dealing with external attacks from our adversary.
Have you ever found yourself in need of the kind of internal argument Lewis spells out here?
‘You are always dragging me down,’ said I to my Body. ‘Dragging you down!’ replied my Body. ‘Well I like that! Who taught me to like tobacco and alcohol? You, of course, with your idiotic adolescent idea of being “grown-up”. My palate loathed both at first: but you would have your way. Who put an end to all those angry and revengeful thoughts last night? Me, of course, by insisting on going to sleep. Who does his best to keep you from talking too much and eating too much by giving you dry throats and headaches and indigestion? Eh?’ ‘And what about sex?’ said I. ‘Yes, what about it?’ retorted the Body. ‘If you and your wretched imagination would leave me alone I’d give you no trouble. That’s Soul all over; you give me orders and then blame me for carrying them out.’
Certainly the tone of these conversations will vary, depending on temperament. But none of us is exempt from the need for some form of such exchanges.
Of course, if you prefer to do this out loud, I’d recommend judicious care in choice of location.
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Randy Newman has been with the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ since 1980 and currently serves with Faculty Commons, their ministry to university professors. He ministers on campuses and elsewhere in our nation's capital to students, professors and policy shapers. He is an honors graduate from Temple University and has a Masters of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he is also engaged in doctoral studies. Randy is a Jewish Believer in Jesus and is the former editor of The Messiah-On-Campus Bulletin. He is the author of numerous articles and the books Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People's Hearts the Way Jesus Did and Corner Conversations: Engaging Dialogues about God and Life, both published by Kregel Publications, and Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who Know You Well, forthcoming from Crossway.
To find out more, visit his blog, Integration Points.