In a sermon I heard on Sunday a good friend of mine spoke some about the biblical idea of talking to yourself. I thought of his words just an hour or so ago when I had misplaced my mobile phone and found myself talking to myself as I tried to retrace my path and locate that most indispensable of all items.
In the Sunday sermon one of the Psalms was referenced, but there are actually several times when the writer of those poems shows us that it is appropriate to address yourself. The best known of these may be this line repeated three times in Psalm 42 and 43: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” And each time the writer keeps talking and gives himself this answer: “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
Later a different writer again addresses himself with this word of encouragement: “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him” (Psalm 62:5). And then there are several times when the call to himself is “Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.”
Depending on where you grew up you may have heard the expression “a good talking-to.” I can remember my father telling me that I needed one of those a time or two. So is the example of Scripture encouraging us to give ourselves a good talking-to? Well, maybe. But dictionaries define a “talking-to” as one that is severe, as in a scolding. True enough, sometimes we may need to rebuke ourselves, as in “Don’t you dare go there!” or “Get that thought out of your mind now!”
But more often, we may need to give ourselves a firm, but kind, word of encouragement. All kinds of thoughts (often unproductive) will naturally flow through our minds, but of all God’s creatures, we alone have the power and the freedom to interact with our thoughts. We can say, “Soul, you are troubled and I understand why, but put your hope in God and find rest in him alone.”
The right kind of self-talk may help you find your phone or it may turn your whole day around.