Bookstore shelves are lined with titles about our minds. Dozens of titles tout the benefits of positive thinking. Dozens more proclaim you can change your life by changing your thinking. I have to admit that I have been guilty of walking past these shelves and judging these titles harshly. I have thought, “I have Jesus, I don’t need you.” I gave little thought to my own mind or thought processes.
A year ago I found myself in a dark and difficult season, including a scary health diagnosis, an end to a job, and a departure from our faith community. Like a house of cards, many things in my life seemed to be falling around me. I cried out to the Lord in new ways as I faced fear, anger, and confusion. I asked the Lord to help me put back the pieces of my life and help me navigate the next steps I needed to take.
I believed this rebuilding season would start with a call to perhaps study scripture more, or to spend more time in prayer, or to confess my sins, and all those things did eventually happen. But the Lord showed me that my rebuilding season had to start with my mind.
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37
I had been faithful for years in starting my day in the Word and with prayer. Now the Lord was showing me that one hour of studying His Word was not enough to combat 23 hours a day of letting my thoughts be threaded and polluted with lies I had allowed in from the evil one.
I had guarded my heart and soul but had left my mind wide open to many lies.
Lies of self-doubt.
Lies about my worth.
Lies of fear about my future.
Through studying the Word, the Lord showed me that He desires for us to love Him with all our hearts, and our souls AND our minds. It is not a buffet where you can choose to love the Lord in your heart but not your mind, or vice versa. We are His Beloved, and He wants all three.
The truth was, my mind was out of spiritual shape. The closest parallel I could understand was comparing my mind to my body. With the “work” of exercise, the addition of good “food,” and the subtraction of “junk,” I could start to get my mind in better shape. This allowed me to love the Lord my God with all my mind, as well as my heart and soul.
So I set out on a “Mind Boot Camp” of sorts. Here’s what I did:
The first thing I needed to do was recognize the lies I told myself daily.
I spent some time taking a hard look at the lies I was telling myself. I then compared them to what scripture told me to be truth. I doubted my self-worth and compared myself harshly to the highlight reel posts of perfection I saw on Facebook and Instagram. I wrote out those feelings and then looked at what God had to say about me.
God so love the world (and I am part of that!) that He sent His only Son to die for me! (John 3:16) God created and formed me and knew me when I was still in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 13:13) I was created in God’s own image. (Genesis 1:27)
Throughout the day, everyday, I found myself worrying about my health, about my future, about how it would affect my husband and daughters. I worried and worried and worried. I wrote out those feelings and looked at what God had to say about my future and about fear.
God has good plans for me, for hope and a future. Even when we feel like we have been sent to “exile” in some part of our life, we will not be left there. I know God hears me (Jeremiah 29: 10-13). And worrying is not going to help anything (Matthew 6:34).
The second step was to replace the lies with Biblical truth.
I created a set of index cards that on one side listed an area of my life that I needed to work on my thinking. There could be many areas, but some of mine were: Who I am in Christ, my family, my health, my business, my faith community. For each of these cards I wrote out two to three Biblical truths tied to the designed area. Each morning as part of my devotion time I worked on memorizing 2-3 cards and scriptures.
The third step was to take every thought captive.
“We demolish arguments and every pretense that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
With my verses memorized (or at least close enough to mostly recall it), I started to work on taking my own thoughts captive. I began identifying the lies of Satan, and replacing them with Biblical truth. When I felt myself focusing on fear, I stopped, proclaimed to myself that I was taking that thought captive, and recalled one of my verses.
Little by little I have gotten my mind back in shape, and I have seen the fruit of it in all other aspects of my life.
So maybe those books knew something after all…
It turns out many of those books about positive thinking, or changing your life with changing your thinking were actually on to something. While most do not proclaim God as the highest resting place for our thoughts, they are correct in saying that where we allow our thoughts to focus drives many other parts of our lives.
I would encourage you to do a self-inventory for a few days. Take note (like really, get a piece of paper) of your thoughts about yourself and your worth, about your mothering and your children, about your future, and about how God thinks about you and you about Him. Also take note of your thoughts that are negative, judgmental, or fear driven. If you see repeated thought processes that you know do not align with the Word of God, then I encourage you to start your own mind boot camp.