What are the lies we tell ourselves? We all believe something that isn't true about ourselves or our situation. Most of these lies stem from our life experiences; and, when thing after thing occurs that feeds the lie, we start to believe it as truth. When in fact, there is no truth in a lie. It sounds obvious to say this, but yet it is the belief we exhibit when we entertain the lies of the enemy (Satan), but we know the Truth of God's Word. Let me give you an example of one of the lies I have entertained for years: I am easily forgotten. I have believed on a deep level from the time I was a child that I wasn't memorable because my own father didn't seem to remember me. Once he left, he didn't call for a while and when he did call it was rare and brief. Fast forward years later to college. I was auditioning for a role and gave a really great performance, but I didn't get the role. The director asked to have a special meeting with me so she could explain why she didn't cast me even though my audition was flawless. One of her reasons: "You are not memorable and need to wear a colored scarf onstage so people will know who you are." Can we say harsh?? Maybe a person without the specific hurts I had, would hear the director's reasons and roll their eyes, acknowledging the ridiculousness of it all. But, because I had believed deep down for so long that I am easily forgotten, this experience just confirmed what I already felt to be true in my heart. How has this lie played out in my everyday life? I used to exhibit quirky behaviors and said or did outlandish things so people would remember me better. In relationships, I could be clingy and needy, fearful that I would be forgotten and left. I seemed aloof and pretentious to some because when I would see people I know in public, I wouldn't say 'hi' because I thought they wouldn't remember me, when in truth they did. You see, our thoughts determine our attitude, and ultimately our behavior. Acting out of woundedness only wounds others, and ourselves, in turn. 1. The Nitty-Gritty Details
God has been dealing with me for the last 3 years about getting my thought life back in line with His Word. Throughout this time, I have done study after study and listened to sermon after sermon, all of which seem to have something to say on the matter. God hasn't been letting me forget this vital lesson, but keeps surrounding with the same message - renew and guard my mind. I have been reading a book by Dr. Caroline Leaf called, Who Switched Off My Brain (1). She is a neuro-scientist and Christian who writes in-depth about what toxic thoughts ("thoughts that trigger negative and anxious emotions, which produce biochemicals that cause the body stress") do to our physical brain (2). The toxic thought actually shows up as a black spot in the brain, when examined. Moreover, when we entertain toxic thoughts of anxiety, fear, worry, depression, anger or thoughts about people and situations which caused us to be in these frames of mind, the toxic thought becomes even stronger. What happens when these toxic thoughts take root in our brains? Our body will be in a state of stress, which is linked to numerous physical, emotional and mental illnesses. Take a minute to read the excerpt below:
"In fact, your thoughts create changes right down to genetic levels, restructuring the cell's makeup. Scientists have shown this restructuring is how diseases are able to take hold in the body. On the flip side, when we choose non-toxic thinking, we step into a whole new realm of brain and body function. 'Feel good' chemicals are released that make us feel peaceful and also promote healing, memory formation and deep thinking, which increase intelligence when combined together" (3).
2. The Truth That Sets You Free
God has placed great emphasis on the importance of renewing and guarding our thought-lives because it is so vital to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. See below.
1. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2, ESV)
2. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV)
3. "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ," (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, ESV)
4. "Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." (Colossians 3:2, ESV)
5. "But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:20-24, ESV)
6. "For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." (Romans 8:6, ESV)
3. What To Do Next
So, how can we change our toxic thinking? Is it even possible? YES, it is! As Dr. Leaf explains and as science has proven, once a thought has been brought into our conscious minds, it cannot stay the same. It is either strengthened and reinforced or changed and redesigned (3). What this means is that we have the God-given opportunity to reject any thinking that does not come into line with God's Word - "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8, ESV)." God has given us free will and created the science behind our brains so that we can rewire our thinking and transform our minds.
Renewing and guarding our thoughts and minds is going to be hard work and will require some contemplative thinking. I have started journaling toxic, negative thoughts as they enter my mind so that I can get to the root of what lie I am buying into. Once I have narrowed down the lie and written down any hurtful experience that stands out as a reinforcement of that lie, I line it up with God's Word. Does God's Word say I'm forgettable? Psalms 40:5 and Psalms 144:3 says that God thinks of me. Obviously, my belief that I am forgettable is a lie of the enemy. So, next I have some prayer time. I give the belief to God and ask Him to heal this wound, then I quote the Bible verses I have found relating to the subject. Disclaimer: this one time will not fix all your toxic thoughts and deep wounds. You will have to repetitively pray through the same issue and repetitively quote the same Scriptures to reinforce the Truth of God's Word. Each time you do this, the toxic thought will become weaker and weaker, and God's Truth will grow stronger and stronger. This is how we actively renew our minds and transform our thinking. This is how we can live freely and victoriously, without the wounds of the past or the stress of the present weighing us down and wreaking havoc on our bodies, minds and souls. So, now I will ask......
What lies are beneath the surface of your mind?
Scripture References Used in this Post:
"You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told." - Psalms 40:5, ESV
"O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?" - Psalms 144:3, ESV
(1) Leaf, Dr. Caroline. Who Switched Off My Brain. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009. Print.
(2) IBID, 19. Print
(3) IBID, 22. Print.
(4) IBID, 69. Print.