How to change your mind — literally

Phil.4-8

Want a cheery verse to start your morning?

How about “Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat…” (Luke 22:31)?

Those inspirational words rang in my head as I opened my eyes just the other day.

God, should I be worried? What’s going to happen? 

Of course I hoped it was completely random… like waking up with “The Song that Never Ends” in your head.

But within a few seconds, I allowed fear’s seed to take root. My imagination was in gear.

As I drove away from home a couple hours later, I received a text about a lockdown on our school campus (which includes our house). I realized too late that I’d left our front door unlocked.

This might be it, I thought as I drove away. I might come home to face a criminal (I didn’t).
Or worse yet, our school might be under attack (It wasn’t, thank God).

Later that afternoon I left three kids home alone (in our cozy neighborhood consisting of ten other Christian families) to pick Jaden up from school.

I’d better kiss them all goodbye. Who knows what might happen to me or them once I leave this house? (Nothing did.)

My paranoia eased a little over the next couple days, but I’d entertained thoughts of disaster long enough that it refused to make a permanent exit. Any songs on the radio or verses in my head about trials made me uneasy. It took a little longer to fall asleep. Since I didn’t want to be caught by surprise, I had to imagine all the possibilities… turns out there are a lot of possibilities.

And so I entertained my old friends:

  • Fear
  • Worry
  • Anxiety

Toxic Thoughts.

Could this be what God wanted for me with the thought of Luke 22:31?

I suppose the Lord very well could choose to warn me of trials to come, but even if He does, am I doomed to anxious thoughts that rob me of peace and joy?

Back when I was recovering from adrenal fatigue and symptoms of PTSD, I had an arsenal of verses for my battle with panic and despair.

Two of my favorites are Philippians 4:6-7.

Phil.4Large

One of my favorite books for dealing with the war of the mind (in addition to the Bible) is:

Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling toxic thoughts and emotions by Dr. Caroline Leaf

whoswitchedoffmybrain

You and I have heard that God’s Word renews our minds, but it is truly astounding to understand how that plays out scientifically.

Thoughts are basically electrical impulses, chemicals and neurons. They look like a tree with branches. As the thoughts grow and become permanent, more branches grow and the connections become stronger.

As we change our thinking, some branches go away, new ones form, the strength of the connections change, and the memories network with other thoughts (Leaf 19-20).

brain
Dr. Leaf goes on to explain that when a thought is formed, information then swirls through our hippocampus to the front of our brain for the next 24 to 48 hours, constantly being amplified, molded, and changed. We either reinforce the thought the way it is, or change it in some way.

Proteins are made and used to grow new branches to hold your thoughts, a process called protein synthesis. So, if we don’t get rid of the thought we reinforce it. This is quite phenomenal because science is confirming that we can choose to interfere with protein synthesis by our free will. If you say you “can’t” or “won’t,” this is a decision of your free will and will actually cause protein synthesis and changes in the real estate of your brain. Now “bringing into captivity every thought” (2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV) starts to become a lot more important. Thoughts are constantly remodeled by the “renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2 NIV).

When we do this, we actually change the physical structure (called neuroplasticity) of the brain… (Leaf 59-61).

Sunflower Field with setting Sun in Background, nice Sunburst and Sunbeams

I am reminded:

I am not enslaved to my current toxic thoughts: My mind can be renewed.

Even if  the Lord is trying to tell me something through his warning to Simon Peter…

Even if  the very worst case scenario should happen…

I have a choice!

2 Timothy 1:7

When I’m afraid…

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)

When I’m overwhelmed…

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

When I fear Satan’s attacks…

“in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Rom. 8:37).

By the power of the Holy Spirit, I can literally change my mind.

2Cor10-5

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4 thoughts on “How to change your mind — literally

  1. Sylvia Totzke May 4, 2013 at 9:46 pm Reply

    Thanks, Jennifer, for helping me to see once again that it starts in my mind and that it is my choice to be afraid or to trust God. I really appreciate you.

    Love, Sylvia

    • Jennifer Ebenhack May 5, 2013 at 9:39 am Reply

      Thank you Sylvia! I know I need this reminder daily. So glad you stopped in again. 🙂

  2. Rene' May 8, 2013 at 12:43 pm Reply

    Wow Jennifer. Once again your post if powerful through God’s Word and your experiences. I have been encouraged and educated. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Jennifer Ebenhack May 8, 2013 at 5:34 pm Reply

    Thank you, Rene’. I think of you as a beautiful example of this whole principle! Your focus on the Lord and His goodness while going through tough stuff is such a blessing to see!

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