CHANGE YOUR MIND
I regretted it as soon as I clicked PLACE YOUR ORDER. That’s how fast I changed my mind. That’s how fluid my thoughts are. Second guessing myself isn’t the only way in which I change my mind, fortunately, over the years, I’ve learned how to change my mind in positive ways.
Reshaping my thought-life has been one of the most important aspects of my emotional and spiritual growth. I call it unlearning. Unlearning involves certain essentials, without which, becomes an exercise in futility, because knowing something in my head doesn’t always guarantee that I actually believe it. Unless there’s harmony between these centers, I can struggle.
Reframing sets out to identify, correct, replace, and implement a new truth or better perspective. I use the skill of REFRAMING when I become aware of something I want to change, for instance, the thought that I’m not good enough. As I examine this thought about my worth, I know in my head that my value is measured in God’s eyes. But, unfortunately, I don’t always operate by that truth.
Daily, whether consciously or unconsciously, I measure my shortcomings, compare them to others, or worse, my own expectations, and slyly convince myself that absolutely, without a doubt, I am not enough! It’s okay, don’t be alarmed, I’m very much okay with not being enough in the world’s view (see my Not Enough post). Sometimes reframing is not about changing the truth, it’s about changing our perception of the truth.
Once I conceded to God’s truth, that in Christ I am enough, it released me from striving and freed me from the power that this thought had over me. It’s true, despite the fact that I fall short, (a lot!) I no longer crumble under such burdens. Instead, I embrace my limitations, give it to God and receive what He has for me in return.
The truth and the exchange actually become a salve on my heart, because when belief and thought align, the heart follows. This synchronization releases me from false expectations (AKA the world’s expectations) and connects my heart with my head.
It’s no surprise that prayer is the foundation. It’s in that tight relationship with Christ that I can purposely choose to reframe my thoughts to the truth found in His Word. These new thoughts set up new neural pathways in my brain. Just like a well-walked path, the more I go down those pathways, the easier it becomes to see and to choose them regularly.
MIND OF CHRIST
I mention this process because we’re going to take a stroll through the background of our minds. I’m not sure how well-lit yours is, but mine can be quite dark. We need to invite Jesus to this space. Psalm 139:12 says, for darkness is as light to you. With the light of Christ, you can rummage around and hold up thoughts to His light. It’s in the light of His Word that the skill of reframing really gets its power.
Ephesians 5:13-14 says But, everything exposed by the light becomes visible…This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Changing our minds in this way, actually wakes us up to a freedom that is entirely different than what we originally learned. The unlearning is part of the new you, and the way we become more like Christ. (2 Cor. 5:17)
Last month you saw that our unchangeable God calls us to change. When it comes to the transformational change of our minds, thankfully God gives us His Word along with the mind of Christ. This gives us the ability to shape our thoughts like His. That’s how I began unlearning the less healthy emotional habits that I developed from my family of origin. I then progressed to reconfiguring beliefs that were socially and culturally planted in my heart, to God’s truth.
A THOUGHT PATTERN REVEALED
So, welcome to the back of my mind, (mind the mess!). I need to confess the latest thing God has helped me unearth in this space. It’s not flattering in the least, it’s actually quite embarrassing. But I believe I’m not the only one who has this varmint scavenging about.
God shown His light on something subtle, and deceptively innocuous, that was stunting my spiritual growth. He gently illuminated a thought pattern that wasn’t of Him. He showed me how I was altering impressions into opinions and then hardening them into judgements.
We all do this. We have seemingly harmless beliefs about what we like and don’t like about others. However, when we allow this habitual, unconscious progression to develop into hardened judgement, we reap nothing but separation and self-exaltation, which looks nothing like Christ.
Take a forensic look at this thought process. Here are definitions, along with an example for you to see how this plays out.
1) Impressions are an idea or feeling about something or someone, especially one formed without conscious thought or on the basis of little evidence. Impressions can be experienced in many forms such as visual images, auditory prompts, and/or kinesthetic touch.
- EXAMPLE: I observe a father sharing black licorice with his young child who puckers up his mouth with distaste. The father keeps pressing the child, despite his refusal.
2) Opinions are a belief stronger than an impression and less strong than positive knowledge. Attaching an existing belief to an impression is what forms an opinion. An opinion is a personal assessment or preference that doesn’t dictate right or wrong.
- EXAMPLE: My opinion is that black licorice tastes awful.
3) Judgement is the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing. When I layer my opinion with comparison, and within the context of right and wrong, it becomes judgement. Judgement automatically elevates one thing over another.
- EXAMPLE: The father is wrong to push the awful tasting candy onto his son. Hence, deep down inside of me I conclude that he’s not a good father.
I don’t consciously realize that this is taking place in my head. I walk around all day making conclusions that really aren’t mine to make, and especially aren’t aligned with God’s. The role of society and culture is just one of the influences here (contributing to my idea of what a good parent is), as well as my trivial opinion about a candy (the springboard to judgement).
However, if the father were trying to push something healthy on his son, I would have a different opinion. Can you see how fickle and fluid this is? The trick is to manage your thoughts in the “opinion zone”, not attaching a right and wrong, which usher in judgement.
Judgement is born out of comparing, deducing and concluding based on what we believe is right and wrong. This is determined by the philosophy we each carry. Faith contributes to a Christian’s philosophy, but for those who don’t hold a faith, they use something else to measure right and wrong. (This is called moral relativism – think of differing views of women’s rights in certain middle eastern countries). No matter the origin, the result of our most common judgement results in separation and self-exaltation.
Judgement can happen with something as small as what someone is wearing, to hot topic issues like politics and religion. This spectrum of judgement runs the emotional gambit from inoffensive to vicious. I see pleas against the latter on social media with posts about being kind all the time. They are reminders that we are out of alignment.
Kindness doesn’t typically keep company with judgement; separation and self-exaltation are usually part of its inner circle. However, judgement is purposeful and as Christians we’re supposed to be discerning. The Bible speaks of judgement often. So, what are we supposed to do when we are called to move beyond opinion?
In his book The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer suggests that we’re to use judgement for the purpose of forgiveness, mercy and unconditional love. It is in this space that kindness and judgement coexist. We see it in times when we help loved ones with addiction – we know it’s wrong, it’s not good for them, yet we find ways to get them help. Marriages that reconcile after infidelity don’t condone the offense; they seek to heal past it with forgiveness and unconditional love.
Godly judgement results in separation for those who explicitly reject Him. However, for everyone else, God condemns the sinful action, and not the person. He demonstrates that mercy and kindness are the antidote to the separation that judgement wields. (Rom. 2:4) The bottom line is that under any given circumstances we are all capable of egregious wrongs. Matthew 7:2 says, For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged. I know I’d rather receive kind judgement, wouldn’t you?
Whether the judgement is overt, or unconscious, you can learn to reframe it for good:
- Shine God’s light – become aware of it and what it’s doing to your life, or someone else’s.
- Correct and replace the thought with God’s truth.
- Implement it by either staying in the “opinion zone” or choosing kindness.
Colossians 3:12-14 reminds us that it’s a simple choice to exchange judgement for harmony. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
CHANGE YOUR MIND
This is how I want to change my mind. I want to put into practice the ways of Jesus with the mind of Christ. I want to unlearn the ways of the world, and of my natural self, that consciously or unconsciously elevates and separates me from others. This change requires me to intentionally reject hard-wired habits and develop new Jesus patterns.
I invite you to shine the light in the dark of your mind, rummage around there with the light of Christ, and allow Him to set you free from thought patterns that have become burdens too heavy to carry, or too heavy for others to withstand. Renew your mind by reframing your thoughts with God’s truth that leads to kindness. Become more aligned with God and increasingly different from others who are weighing this world down with the wrong kind of judgement. Change your mind for the better, and you can change the world for the better.
Want to walk through the reframing process with me? Consider a coaching session to help you practice and understand how you can more easily shape your thoughts like Christs. As a Christian Life Coach, I can help you move from where you are to where God wants you to be. If you’d like to explore this further, then let’s chat. I’d love to be your champion in what God is calling you to do!
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