The mind is a powerful thing. We spend the majority of our lives living within it, if you think about it. While we have people to spend time with, we spend so much time just thinking. We make observations, discern scenarios, plan our futures, dream about what our lives will look like, dwell on the beauty of the moments that we are in.
The mind is a beautiful thing. It creates new pathways in response to information to help us learn. It helps us make decisions that shape our lives and pave our aspirations into existence. It can literally re-wire itself according to our experiences – whether to expand our horizons of perception or to help us cope with pain. It’s always giving and receiving. It’s divinely inspired by God.
The mind is also a dangerous thing. If left unprotected and unchecked, it can build a fortress around itself in response to trauma, decide to harm itself or another, or believe lies that the Thinker doesn’t intentionally refute. It relies upon its own intuition based on experience, but our experiences don’t always shape our minds to respond correctly to truth, because our experiences aren’t always true. Our intuition can be wrong, which can lead to broken relationships from suspicion, seclusion from prolonged negative introspection, and deflated self-confidence that starves hope.
The mind was created by God to be subdued by man. It isn’t meant to be in control, because it is wild – as is the heart. The two must live in harmony and balance, under the leadership of truth and self-control. The important thing we must understand is that we are in control because Christ has given us authority over our minds, to take captive every thought and submit it to the Holy Spirit.
You see, sometimes our minds trick us into being afraid, depressed, or jealous by reminding us of painful experiences that the present situation triggers. It then proceeds to send signals to the rest of the body to react chaotically in self-defense. The trigger may or may not be valid, but the mind responds all the same, painting everything it sees in red as a danger to respond to with negative emotion. Sometimes our minds shape too easily to doctrines and beliefs that sound good but aren’t truthful, because it seeks that which it can easily understand with minimal effort. While it may sound good that God overlooks sexual sin (because it gives us permission to stop fighting for purity), our minds know it will be harder to continually restrain itself from doing that which it wants to do, so it forms to unsound teaching. Furthermore, sometimes our minds hold a standard of perfection to our character that is unachievable. It may then begin a process of emotional self-destruction by recalling lies that we’ve believed over the years, even ones that we thought that we overcame. Memory is powerful and often unforgiving. But God is gracious.
I have always struggled within the war of my mind. The struggle between truth and lies. The struggle between learning and passivity. The struggle between right and wrong. I am an experience-made perfectionist who long-believed that I must strive in order to be seen as pleasing before God. I am a survivor of high-stress anxiety and depression who still fights to overcome the negative thought patterns that formed in my childhood. I am a visionary who allowed fleshly “reason” to talk me out of believing that I could ever walk in what I dreamt of with God. But I am learning. I am learning that I have been given the reins and I can steer my mind to new paths and ways of thinking. I must simply train my mind to believe and think differently. To heal from it’s experiences and tear down it’s fortresses that hedge me into narrow-thinking. I now see that God has given me the power of choice in what I believe, and that I can overcome. We all can. And that means you, too. Don’t be tricked into believing that you aren’t powerful, because you are. Tell your mind who’s boss. Let’s do it together.
words by Olivia Douglas and photo by Abby Melrose