Change Your Mind
“For the glory of God is a living man.” – Irenaeus of Lyons A.D. 325
I often think of Creation. I stand in awe at how beautiful our world is. From the grand scale of entire mountains, oceans, and forests, to the wonders of the tiny little ecosystems you can find on the top of a log or the side of a rock. Creation is absolutely incredible! But as incredible as decaying logs are, you are more incredible! In everything that He made, He chose to create YOU in His image and likeness. What an honor! Turtles didn’t get that honor. Mosquitos, definitely not. Even our loving pets as great as they are did not receive that blessing. You did. You were made in His image, in His likeness to be a reflection of the Creator, to be a reminder to the rest of the world who He is. The pinnacle of all creation is YOU. The glory of God is a human fully alive, just as He created you to be. Why then doesn’t it feel that way?
As you study HOW and WHY you were created it becomes clear that we were meant to have relationships. In fact, four relationships are essential. To be fully human, fully alive you must have a relationship with GOD, a relationship with OTHERS, a relationship with the EARTH and your Earthly BODY, and a relationship with your SELF. At the center of these relationship should be the Creator. Due to some lies and bad choices, our eyes were opened and suddenly the notion that God did NOT need to be at the center and that we humans could operate out of our own wisdom entered and ruined the world. So here we sit today, creatures made in the image of an infinite, all-powerful, loving God, yet often we feel less than the decaying log. It’s time to reclaim the glory with which you were made. Its time to change your mind!
I urge you to take a good hard look at all four of the essential relationships in your life. Ask yourself how you’re doing in these areas and how must you improve. But in dealing with people every day, the one broken relationship I see most often is with your SELF. This is an absolute tragedy! If you only knew how amazing you are and how loved you are, there would be no fear, no shame, no guilt, no hesitation to just be you and to love yourself. But that take awareness. So let me make you aware of some things.
You are not your thoughts. Your thoughts are yours. Most people go through life thinking that the voice in their head is who they are. That voice is not you! You are the consciousness that HEARS those thoughts. The fact that you listen to them means you are not them. The best analogy I’ve found is that you have a roommate in your head. That roommate LOVES to talk. Problem is, your roommate is a critic. A critic will always tell you what you did wrong and will never give any advice on how to make it better. Food critics: that muffin is bad. Art critics: that painting is ugly. Never advice, just critiques. Once you recognize that you are not your thoughts and that they are nothing more than a rude roommate who doesn’t do their dishes, you can start to argue with them! You can decide to tell them how they are wrong. You can stand up for yourself. You can flip the script and make your thoughts your own.
Your thoughts are weapons either to be used by you against the enemy or to be used by the enemy against you. Have you ever noticed that you are the meanest person you know? You put yourself down; you tell yourself how terrible you are, and you’re a flat out jerk to yourself! I pray you never allow someone to speak to you the way that you speak to you! But once you come to realize that you are not your thoughts, it becomes very clear what is going on.
John 10:10 says that the enemy comes only to kill, steal, and destroy. The enemy is using your thoughts against you! He has taken your mind as a weapon to make you feel like you are less than a decaying log. God says the exact opposite. He says that you are His glory and greatest creation! Why in the world would you let anyone tell you otherwise! Be aware that your thoughts are being used as a weapon against you. Once you see what is happening, you can choose to use that weapon for yourself! Fight against negative thoughts. Remind yourself constantly who you are and Whose you are! Rebuke the devil and he must flee. But first you have to know its him in the first place. Weaponize your mind!
We all have a State of Mind and we can change it. There are 5 states of mind. From worst to best they are:
Victim: Everything happens TO you. The world is against you. He hurt you. They did that to me. I am a helpless victim and there’s nothing I did wrong or could’ve done better. It’s not my fault.
Pessimist: Everything and everyone is bad. If something can go wrong it probably will. People are mean. Why bother? If something good happens, something bad is right around the corner. Good people always lose. I’m just unlucky.
Optimist: Everything and everyone is good! If something can go right it will! The best outcome will always occur.
Rationalist: Things and people are not good or bad. Things are just things and I will handle what ever comes to the best of my ability.
Opportunist: Everything, whether it’s painful or joyful is an opportunity for me to grow and to be a better person. Whether I like what is happening or not, it is good. To the Christian, I can live my life in freedom knowing that everything that happens is by His design and it will ultimately bring me closer to Him and the glory will be His. Even if I don’t understand or it doesn’t fit my desires or plans, His will is infinitely better than mine.
I’m hope it’s obvious why one would not want to live the life of a victim or pessimist. But the Optimist, Rationalist, and Opportunist are each good so it is important to give an example. During Vietnam, these states of mind were observed in the POWs. What was found was that the Optimists were always hopeful that they would be home released very soon. They’d say, “We’ll be home by Christmas!” Christmas would come and go. “We’ll be home by Easter for sure!” Easter would come and go. Eventually they would give up hope and die from a broken heart. The Realists on the other hand would face reality. “We might be here for years. In fact we might never go home but I’m going to live the best life as long as I can in hopes that one day I’ll see my family again.” More often than not it was the Realists that lived. But the difference in the Realists and the Opportunists came when they got home. The Realists lived but there was no meaning in their suffering. They came home to a world they did not recognize and were dejected and rejected. The Opportunist came back with a new lease on life! Their suffering was GOOD! They became better for it. It drew them closer to God and gave them growth they NEVER could have attained without their years of torment. Their state of mind, the meaning they gave to their pain made them better, not worse.
You can change your thoughts and you can change your State of Mind. It is a long hard process that requires a ton of self reflect and thought. BUT no matter what has happened or what you’ve been through, you can change! The first step is to be aware. Know that you are not your thoughts. Use your mind to fight off an enemy who wants to destroy you. Be aware of the state of your mind and take steps daily to improve. Above all, know that you are the Glory of God in all of His Creation! It’s time to start acting like it.
In Health and Faith,