“For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” Proverbs 23:7a (NASB)
Before I delve further into this topic, I want to acknowledge that Proverbs 23:7, when taken in context, is referring to a rich man who is deceptive and pretending to be generous while his heart has ulterior motives. However, I would like to be so bold as to say that this verse most definitely applies to all of us. Our thinking, or what we allow ourselves to meditate upon, ends up defining who we are. If you are immersing yourself in the Word of God, you are filled with God’s thoughts, beginning to understand His heart, and your inclinations become more and more Christ-like. This reality is seen over and over again in the Word of God. I don’t have time today to dig into that further, but I do encourage you to study more into that concept!
Having gotten that out of the way, let us continue our conversation on toxic thoughts. We covered a bit of ground last week, so if you missed it, you can check it out Here .
We have established that toxic thoughts are no good. But I’d like to dig a little bit deeper. Remember I said I have a science lesson? Well, bear with me. I’m certainly no scientist, but I have been reading and learning a few things.
We will look at only two of those things, one this week and one next week, because there’s simply too much to stuff into one post. If you receive my weekly email, after this series I will include a recommended reading list if you desire to delve further into this topic, as I do. This will only be for those on the email list, so if you’re not on that list, and you want the recommendations, you can sign up to get my weekly email HERE. (Don’t worry, I won’t sell your information or bombard you. I just drop in once a week to say hi.)
First off, our minds are made up of grooves much like roads. The brain is like a world that starts out like an undeveloped, newly discovered planet. Then as you grow and develop, so does your brain’s world: with roads, maps (places we learn to go), and different areas that are marked out in various ways.
We create pathways through experiences, thought patterns, and habits. The more we do something, the deeper that road becomes, making it easier and easier to go back to. I remember when I was learning Martial Arts, they called this “Muscle Memory”. Basically, you train over and over again so that something just becomes a natural response. Unfortunately, that could also happen in the negative sense as well. Take pornography for example. People who have been exposed, and who choose to continue to expose themselves to these images and videos create pathways in their brains. They literally change their brain chemistry negatively. Or the person who acts out in rage. The more they do it, the more automatic that reaction becomes until it basically defines them. Not a good thing to be defined by!
Every day we create new pathways. As we read the Word, and meditate on what is wholesome and healing, we unlearn those old pathways to create new ones. We become like a construction company excavating, grating, and repaving new roads. It can be hard work, especially if we have worn a deep rut or path over many years. But, remember, it is possible. Not on our own, but with the power of the Holy Spirit guiding us. With His Word as our compass, we can take those toxic and destructive thoughts (that have created patterns and bondage in our lives), and we can capture them and create new patterns and experience freedom. We can literally change our brains.
A key verse about this topic is Romans 12:2, which says in the New Living Translation: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
I love that! Don’t you find that so encouraging?
Not only is it possible, but it’s something God tells us to do, and therefore something He will most definitely enable us to do.
We can be transformed, and we will be as we make the choice to renew our minds.
The longer we wait, the deeper those negative and destructive pathways become. These roads lead to danger. There are signs all along the way that our Gracious Heavenly Father puts up to warn us- DANGER! STOP! CHANGE COURSE! It is urgent that we listen and not harden our hearts and continue in these thought patterns.
Next week we will look at what happens to our bodies and our beings when we dwell on toxic thoughts. I hope you’ll stay tuned in, it’s really interesting. This stuff blows my mind (pun intended). :)
Practical Steps: Memorize scripture, ask God for help in unlearning toxic thought pathways and in creating new, healthy ones.
I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below!