Let the Spirit change your way of thinking. – Ephesians 4:23 (CEV)
Does your mind sometimes surprise you? A thought pops into your head and, like knocking over dominos, sets off a chain reaction. Before you know it, the last domino falls and you’ve reached some ridiculous conclusion, leaving you wondering, “how in the world did my mind get here?”
This happens to me all the time. Here’s a window into how my mind can run away from me like a Crazy Train.
My husband comes home from a run without our dog. He says Henry probably just chased a deer into the woods and will be back when he gets hungry. I quickly conclude Henry’s been eaten by a mountain lion, and all that will be left of the “best dog ever” is his light blue collar. I don’t think I can bear to search for him. How will I ever forgive my husband for killing our dog?
Our daughter walks in the door with pink, purple, and blue hair. Oh crap, I bet she’s running with the wrong crowd. She’ll probably start doing drugs, stop playing sports, drop out of school, and get pregnant. For crying out loud, I’m going to be a grandmother before I turn fifty. And wouldn’t you know it, I just gave away the porta-crib!
It’s summertime, and when I switch out my jeans for shorts, the first three pairs I try on are super tight. What in the world happened to my waistline over the winter? Dang, I ate and drank too much, sat too often, and let the dust collect on my gym membership. Laura, why are you paying for something you never use? What a waste! What a loser you are!
Am I the only one who thinks like this? How many times have you worried yourself sick about something that never even happened?
The good thing is, with God’s Spirit in us, we can STOP our thoughts before they run off the rails. God teaches us to take every thought captive and align them with His truths (2 Corinthians 10:5). If you want to see someone who perfectly lived all of God’s truths, look to Jesus.
Jesus taught, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right not, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:34 MSG) Instead of worrying about what could happen, we’re to trust God in the moment.
Worry can be the warning light in your mind that reminds you to pray.
Here’s a promise we find in Philippians 4 in the Message version of the Bible.
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
That is wonderful! Knowing our prayers can actually combat worry and change our thinking brings incredible hope to our crazy circumstances.
Dr. Caroline Leaf is a pioneering neuroscientist in the field of neuroplasticity – the ability of our brains to actually rewire themselves in response to thinking differently. She has taken the unusual step of making connections between science and God’s word.
In her book, Switch on Your Brain, she writes, “It is with our minds that we reject or believe the lies of the Enemy, the Prince of Lies. It is with our minds that we change the physical reality of the brain to reflect our choices. It is with our minds that we decide to follow God’s rules and live in peace despite what is going on around us.”
Rethinking the three “crazy train” scenarios I described before, if my thoughts had been more aligned with Jesus’, then when my dog was missing, I would have prayed for Henry’s protection and not labelled Dan as a negligent dog killer. I later learned that Henry was playing with another dog in the neighborhood and made his way home safely.
Rethinking my daughter’s colorful hair, I could have asked great questions like Jesus would have. “So why did you choose those colors? Do you like how it looks? Is it permanent or temporary dye?” I would have discovered there was no need for worry. It was only slumber party silliness and would wash out in a few weeks. She was still in school with good grades and not even dating anyone. Good thing… I’m not ready to be a grandmother quite yet.
And those summertime shorts… Jesus would be the first one to say, “Your waistline doesn’t define you. God loves you, whatever your size. And by the way, the last thing you are is a loser.”
The next time your thoughts start to run away from you, let worry be the warning light reminding you to invite God in through prayer and align your thoughts with His. With some time and practice, you’ll be taking every thought captive and rewiring your brain.
3 O’Clock Circle - Two or more together sharing real life and relevant faith.
Read this week’s blog or listen to our podcast. Then discuss these 3 questions in your circle.
When has your mind jumped on the Crazy Train and spiraled out of control?
What seems to be worrying you most these days?
If Jesus was faced with what’s worrying you, how would He respond in thought, word, and action? How can you follow His lead and do the same?
If you have any questions about our 3 O’Clock Circles, please let me know. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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