If you've paid attention to the Leach Letters that go out every Friday, you know that I’m doing much work on my thought life this year in counseling. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I subsequently suffer effects not often in my body but in my mind.
And my mind, as I have recently realized, has been out of control for far too long.
Of course, those lingering thought processes aren’t limited to thoughts about my abuse or my relationship with my father, but they have found their way into my thoughts about myself. Gradually, over the years, they have created neuro-pathways in my brain, making it incredibly difficult for me to think any other way.
What are neuro-pathways? They’re these little crevices that are buried into our brains every time we think a thought. And the more we think that particular thought, the deeper that crevice becomes.
For example, one of my deepest thoughts is that I’m worthless. I’ve thought this since I was a little girl… even if I couldn’t verbalize it at the time. So this neuro-pathway is incredibly difficult to overcome.
With a lot of hard work and intentionality, I am trying to change that thought and replace it with something new that feels true to me and true of the Lord. I haven’t zeroed in on what that will be specifically, but I’m trying a few things on at the moment.
But this is why it is essential for us to renew our minds… and renew them now. The longer we go down these negative thought paths, the harder it will be to turn around and go the other way.
“How in the world do I actually do this, though?” I know exactly what you’re asking because I asked that question not too long ago.
I think it’s best to give you an example.
I was in the middle of my Sunday planning session this week, writing down my list of things that need to get done, the things that I want to get done, and the things that are already set in stone. I quickly found that I was thinking, "this week is going to be nuts. I’m already overwhelmed, and it’s only Sunday. If I can just make it to Friday, I’ll be able to breathe."
We've all had these thoughts from time to time, looking at our schedule and feeling overwhelmed, stressed, panicked, or even a sense of dread.
But fortunately, I quickly recognized how I was thinking. I immediately wrote at the top of my planning page, "This week is busy, but there is plenty of time to accomplish and enjoy every necessary thing. I can do this. This is no big deal."
I immediately felt a physical weight off of my shoulders lift. I immediately felt like I could breathe easier. I immediately felt hopeful. And now, I was looking forward to my week instead of dreading it.
Did the perspective shift change my circumstances or how busy my week is? Not at all. But did it change my posture toward it, even physically? Absolutely.
I don’t want to dread my week. I’ve spent far too much time in life doing that. I talked in my Leach Letter last week about how we need to stop longing for the next season and start living this season. This perspective shift in our thought life is a similar concept.
Paul tells us in Romans, “do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
The New Living Translation says, “let God transform you by changing the way you think.” Y’all, Paul didn’t say that the changing of our circumstances or the removal of our suffering would transform us. Instead, our transformation will come through changing the way we think. The renewing of our minds.
Too often, I ask God for the wrong thing, and I bet you are too.
Instead of asking Him to change the world around us, we should ask God to renew our minds. We should ask Him for wisdom, allowing Him to transform us by changing our thinking. About Him, about ourselves, and about our lives.
My friend, don’t negate the power of your thought patterns. “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” Proverbs 23:7 Notice when you’re thoughts are headed down a negative road and take them captive one by one. Write them down and then rewrite them how you actually want to think. (And then let me know what this changes for you!)
Let this year be the year your life transforms. Not because anything in your life changes, but because your mind changes. You can do this.