The vacant field was a popular shortcut to school. Dividing the weed-covered square into two triangles, a path was rutted with evidence of bikes riding through the mud. Hardened by the sun, the deep grooves became permanent ruts from one corner of the field to the other.
I picture that rutted path now when I catch myself slipping into my mind’s default place of fearful thinking. Worry used to be my bedtime routine. Closing my eyes at night, I would meditate on the latest problem, looking at every side and angle in order to find the solution. Did I wake up refreshed? Of course not!
Scientists claim that we have brain pathways; thinking patterns formed over years. It takes an intentional effort to change the habit and discover a new pathway of thinking.
But it can be done.
Imagine yourself on a bike and your wheels are stuck in a rut. What has to happen to release your bike from the deep ridge of dirt? Simply turning your wheel while riding is not going to work. It would be easier to just stay in the rut and go where you’ve always gone before. But what if you want to go somewhere new? Romans 8:5,6 gives us a clue to escaping the rut.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit, the things of the spirit…to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
We can “set our minds”, or choose where we will allow our thoughts to hang out.
I had to learn how to stop my bike, or my fearful thought, and pull up and out of the rut. 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5 states,
“ though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
Our negative, fearful thoughts could be described as “strongholds, arguments and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God”. The key to changing our thinking patterns from negative to positive is to take our thoughts captive.
You can be the boss of your brain.
I may find myself worrying or fretting over an issue in my life and I will intentionally stop the thought and redirect or “pull up”. Worry is negative meditation. Jude 20 reminds us to “build yourselves up, praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping yourselves in the love of God.” We cannot will ourselves to think happy thoughts, but we can use our will to get to our spirit, (Romans 8:5,6). Find your happy place. Do whatever it takes to get there, music, scripture, declaring a promise, praying in the Spirit. Taking our thoughts captive requires strength and determination, but if we can create a new pathway of freedom, it is worth it.
Susie Klein is a freelance writer with encouraging and challenging articles in several online magazines, short devotionals in The Secret Place and can always be found at her blog Recovering Church Lady.