This is the 4th post in this series on renewing the mind. If you’re just joining me, you can start here and move through them at your own pace.
It has taken me longer to complete this post than I intended, but here it is.
I am finding the pro-active approach to renewing my mind is very important. Before moving on to the topic of “crisis plans”, I would like to mention another proactive mind renewal tool that has been pivotal for me since I was a very young child. I suppose it is so natural to me that I didn’t even consider it to be something we must be proactive about, otherwise I would have listed it earlier.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. ~Psalm 119:11 (KJV)
The tool is scripture memory. I’ve been memorizing God’s word since I was able to talk. At a very young age I was involved in AWANA, and we memorized so many scriptures through that program. It’s true, I’ve been more lax about it as an adult, but I do find that God brings His words to my mind often. He has even brought scripture to my mind that I have never officially memorized. I don’t know if He’s just placing His Word in my mind, or if He’s bringing forward Words I’ve read (having read through the entire Bible several times over the years). Either way, He’ll prompt me with a passage or concept, and then I look it up and discover that it’s been in my Bible all along.
Obviously you can be re-active, but typically, for me anyway, that means it will take me longer to reach the point I could have started with. It takes longer because I end up wallowing in the thoughts longer and I’m relying on my ability to remember, “Oh right, I wanted to renew my mind when these thoughts came up again.” And then it takes me a bit to stop sulking because the “club of condemnation” almost always comes out.
However, if I’m already practicing renewing my mind before the crisis hits, I tend to catch those thoughts/behaviors before they’ve completely ruined my whole day (week or month) AND I turn to God sooner because my mind is already being trained in that direction. I’m also finding that I am less likely to turn my attention to new and old diet solutions so I can “fix myself”.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. ~ Isaiah 26:3 (KJV)
I hope I’m not beating a dead horse here by saying, being proactive about renewing your mind is key! Ok, now on to the “crisis plan”
Oh Lord, I’m in the middle of a crisis!
Even being proactive, I still have weak moments. Yes, my flesh still screams and demands it’s own way. Yes, I still live in this fallen world with all of its multitude of ways to infiltrate the mind. A crisis (big or small) is going to happen, but with God’s grace and a few tools, we’ll be ready for them. These are by no means the only tools you can use, so ask God what will work for you.
For starters, most days, you will probably find a cross drawn on my hand in ink. I generally have to draw a new one every morning. At first, I was really fussy about the way it looked, but now, I keep it simple, and if it doesn’t look perfect, it doesn’t matter. I’m not saying you must draw on yourself, or tattoo yourself. If you aren’t at peace with an exercise like this, it isn’t for you. For me, it is a physical reminder, and one with which I am perfectly at peace.This little cross reminds me that I already have a plan when temptations do arise.
Knowing what you will do when you encounter negative thoughts or lies buzzing about in your head is a HUGE step toward winning the battle (read: be proactive, have a plan). Here is a list of tools I’m currently using in my Crisis Plan:
I Deserve A Donut – Yes, I know I’ve already mentioned this one, but seriously, it is a big resource in a little book (there is also an app). The author lists numerous rationalizations and emotions that prompt us to eat when we aren’t hungry. You can scroll down the list to choose the one affecting you in the moment, then turn to that page for help. She includes questions to prayerfully ask yourself as you process what you’re thinking/feeling, as well as scripture to point you back to God. You can journal these, or you can work through them verbally. I typically do them verbally, like I’m having a conversation with God.
Truth Journal – Heidi from Thin Within did an example entry for this during one of the audio clips I’ve mentioned in the last three posts. Barb Raveling’s book, The Renewing of the Mind Project, arrived in the mail yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to really dive in, but a cursory glance through it showed that the idea comes from this book. I am really looking forward to reading it.
Basically, when your brain is going haywire, you pull out this journal (it’s separate from your Faith Journal). The object is to take the lies and, what Heidi calls, “little “t” truths” and replace them with big “T” truths. A little “t” truth is a lie that contains an element of truth; or maybe it’s true in that moment but doesn’t have to remain so. Like the statement, “I want to keep eating” (see photo). That was true when I wrote it, but it is a want or desire that can change. A big T truth is God’s Truth and it doesn’t change; or it may be a truth that contradicts a lie I’m telling myself… Like in the example where I say I’m “behind” on my work. The truth in that moment was that I wasn’t behind at all, I just wasn’t ahead of schedule any longer.
To do this exercise, you write 3-5 short sentences describing how you’re feeling, or what is bothering you, leaving a space between each line. Then you number each statement (there might be more than one statement per sentence). After you’ve numbered them, you address each statement individually and write the big “T” truth in the spaces between the lines. As you address the lies, draw a line through them. The photo is the first entry I did of this sort. I was feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, and had a desire to procrastinate. I chose this one because it was less personal than other entries I’ve made 🙂 In the past, I would let these kinds of thoughts fester all day long. This one little exercise on that particular day kept me from turning the day into an “I feel sorry for myself” eat fest.
Essentially, my Truth Journal is the place where I make a conscious effort of turning my thoughts back to God… I’m taking my thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ in a very literal sense through this exercise.
Praying God’s Word – As I’ve mentioned over and over, Beth Moore is one of my favorite Bible Teachers, hands down. The resource the Lord led her to put together through this book is one that blesses me. This is the book I used to make the scripture index cards I mentioned in the very first post of this series. If I know I’m struggling in a moment with a particular stronghold, I can turn straight to that section and begin praying scripture immediately. I keep the book with my reference materials, and the index cards I made could end up anywhere in the house. There have been days I have literally worn them around my neck (lanyard).
Praise Fest (or Feast) – This is another one of Heidi’s tools. Super simple. You just start telling God (or singing to Him) how awesome He is. I’ll admit, I typically turn to this one last. If my mind is still stuck after doing the other two things, I’ll do this. I’ve found that praising God for using these struggles to turn my heart and mind back to Him is a terrific way to turn the tables on the enemy. It’s funny how thanking God for the crisis moments, really changes the way you view them.
A praise fest can look like any number of things. You can turn on praise music (or just sing acapella). You can also say aloud your “God List”. A “God List” is a running list of God’s attributes, benefits, character traits…etc. I don’t keep an official God list. Instead, I’ve decided to have my Faith Journal do double duty by underlining words or phrases that describe God or His character. Then, I can flip open the journal and my eyes quickly land on those words/phrases and I can start praising God for Who He is (see photo). I decided that I would underline them in green because it reminds me that I am growing closer to Him by knowing Him better.
Anyway, the next time you’re feeling low, give the praise fest a try, it works and leads me to the next one.
Treasure Hunting – I can’t remember what Heidi calls this on the audio, but she describes listing ways in which God has shown His glory to you throughout the day. You can also make it a list of what you’re grateful for.
I’m trying to make a habit of asking God for one special treasure each day (proactive) that shows His love, His glory, His presence in the mundane… I don’t remember to ask every day, but on the days I have, He hasn’t disappointed. It can be as simple as noticing a beautiful flower on my walk, or as big as God prompting Peter Furler to play a certain song during a Third Day concert at Red Rocks. Before Peter shouted the song’s title (Mac Powell asked what he wanted to perform next), God whispered to my spirit, “This one’s for you, Julie.” How could I not feel treasured in that moment? God is so good to me.
Ok, before I start weeping with joy and this post ends up waiting as a draft for another day…let’s keep moving… Treasure hunting can also apply to those crisis moments (reactive) because it is really difficult to dwell on the negative when you’re turning your focus to how blessed you truly are.
Thought Busters – There are moments, of course, when I do not have time to sit and work through my junk. Watching my daughter’s belt test last night would be a perfect example. I’m not about to walk out of the dojang while she’s kicking her heart out to deal with the thoughts bombarding me. No, I need to be present for her. This is where I use a short scripture or phrase to blow a negative thought to bits instantly. Of course, I must have these memorized (proactively hiding His Word in your heart) for them to be available when I need them. Here are some of mine:
Thoughts that berate my appearance get shot down with, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.
Thoughts about defeat or feeling like I’ll never win this battle evaporate with, “My God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that I could ask or imagine.”
Thoughts that make me feel like I’m not making any progress are stopped with, “All things are made beautiful in God’s time.”
Thoughts that prompt me to think that I’m not doing anything to “fix myself” (you know, that urgent feeling to start a new diet or exercise plan so you can whip yourself back into shape)… with these thoughts I go straight for the jugular with, “In Jesus Name, GET THEE BEHIND ME SATAN! I am doing something about it by trusting the God who made me! My hope is in HIM and not in anything this world has to offer!”
Obviously you have to prepare for these moments ahead of time. You may use scripture and phrases God gives you while you’re Faith Journaling or Truth Journaling. Ask Him for the right words. Even if you find yourself in crisis mode, and do not have access to “physical tools”, remember, your most valuable resource is the God of the universe and He is accessible 24/7.
I highly doubt this will be the last time I write about renewing the mind, but this is the end of this series… for now anyway. Thanks so much for hanging in there with me through these posts. I hope we’ve learned that we can’t just sit around expecting God to change us without our involvement. He wants us to walk this transformation with Him. Our minds are continually taking in information, and if we aren’t actively renewing them with God’s Truth, they will conform to or continue in the pattern of this world.
Choose this day whom you will serve…
Update: Renewing the Mind: One Year+ Later