Have you ever thought about how extraordinary the human body is? To me, the human body is a work of art, stunning in every way, which is why I chose to explore it even more in my undergrad years. I have a Kinesiology and Health Science degree, and I was thoroughly fascinated about learning the anatomy of the human body. The more I studied about the human body and all its functions, the more it was evident to me that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, crafted by the most creative artist… GOD! Every organ and function was precisely thought out, and made with purpose! It surprises me when people who are lovers of science, don’t believe that God exists! I’ve always believed in God since I was a little girl, but the more I studied science and the human body, the more in awe of Him I was!
Today, I am going to focus on the functions of one of the most vital and complex organs in the human body…. our brain, and more specifically, our thought processes. Scientific research shows that every thought we have while we are conscious, is recorded in our cerebral cortex in our brain, which is basically our internal hard drive. It is very similar to an etch and sketch, in that each thought scratches the surface. If you think the same thoughts time and time again, the original thought is deepened and it causes a memory trace. When an emotion is tied with this thought, the memory trace is deepened each time that thought is accessed. So if you keep thinking about the same negative things constantly, perhaps how a person has hurt you, and you tie your emotion of anger or sadness with it, the memory trace is deepened. Your hippocampus is the part of the brain that provides the context of stored memories. So the emotional tone and the description your mind creates can potentially rewire your brain. By creating stronger neuronal pathways and synapses, these negative memories tied with emotions become so deeply ingrained that it will be very hard to think any other way.
We will not develop new responses to the same situations until we develop new thoughts. Sometimes your negative thoughts get so deep that it causes your brain to become “sick”, and often leads to one of many mental illnesses. I know this first hand because I was also a victim of my negative thinking patterns many years ago. I suffered with depression in high school and it literally sucked the life right out of me, that I no longer saw a reason for living. I couldn’t sleep well, I was an emotional wreck, I couldn’t focus, my relationships with loved ones were affected, and I could not see the good in anything. I was headed for a path of destruction very fast. However, it was in that time where I hit rock bottom, that Jesus reached down and rescued me. He was the redeemer of my life, the One who gave me purpose and a reason to live. I did not have a personal relationship with Him prior to that moment, so my life changed dramatically. He taught me to renew my mind, by focusing on Him and His word. The bible says in Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” He does not want us to act or react the way the rest of the world would, He wants us to be set apart for Him.
Did you know that even strong Christians can get depressed? Even though there is fullness of joy found in Christ, some Christians still suffer from depression! The reason is that many people don’t act in faith, and their fears/ insecurities consume their thoughts and mind. A perfect example can be found in the bible, through the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. Elijah went from being so full of faith and being victorious , to feeling defeated and falling into depression. He had an amazing victory on mount Carmel, but his feelings later spiraled into anxiety, panic, and fear when he heard that Jezebel was trying to take his life. He was worn out physically as well, because he kept running for his life, and eventually became depressed and asked God to take his life because he did not want to continue on any longer. But it’s so wonderful how we read that God met him at his need and provided for him. So there is always hope in any situation you are in. If God can help Elijah back then, He can help you too because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
Whether you suffer from a mental illness or not, renewing our mind is something He requires of us on a daily basis. On any given day, each of us have over a thousand thoughts. Some of our thoughts are good, and others are not so good. We can choose whether we want to be driven by our emotions and thoughts, or by what the Lord is asking of us. Just as it states in Colossians 3:2 “Set your mind on things above and not on earthly things”. Whatever you think about, is what you will be become (Proverbs 23:7).
So, here’s a question for you to ask yourself…what are you constantly thinking about? Are your thoughts tearing you down, as well as those around you? You don’t have to allow your thoughts and emotions to have control over your life. If you are always flooded with toxic thoughts about you or others, everything in and around you will get affected by it.
You may be wondering how you can renew your mind and get it out of this repetitive cycle of negativity. So I want to encourage you to always remember this practical and necessary verse, because it will really help you realign your thinking patterns.
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things” Philippians 4:8.
Interestingly, I have this verse hanging on a canvas on my wall at home. Although my friend gave it to me eight years ago as a gift, I now know that God really wants me to be reminded of it daily. In fact, I say this verse out loud almost everyday because my toddler loves hearing me read it out loud to her, and she will point at the canvas until I read it to her. God is pretty much using her to remind me to never forget that verse because it is so easy to let our minds wonder to things that are not beneficial to our spiritual growth. We need to make an effort to think about the things that are of the Lord, and everything listed in Philippians 4:8 is a perfect guideline of that. The renewing of your mind is an active and an intentional process and it will rewire your brain and help you on the track to real freedom in Christ, overflowing with joy.
So dear readers, I pray that you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind today, and that you will allow the holy spirit to clear out your old thinking patterns. There is a huge stigma about mental health issues, but it is such a common thing that people go through. Most of time they suffer with it alone because they are scared to talk to anyone about it. If you or someone you know are struggling with a mental illness, please get connected to someone that can help you in the right direction.
Whether you are struggling with a mental illness or not, God is doing a new thing, and it’s time to rid your mind of those toxic thoughts that weigh you down! I pray that His joy will fill you, and that your faith will be renewed!
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us, we will get you connected to the right people to set you on your path to true freedom in Christ. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org! Blessings and love to you!