(After pressing publish on this post, my heart stopped and I wonder what will my readers think once they find that I struggle in this way? What if they too see my “face” and decide I am not worthy….But Jesus says I am worthy because of Him. He says that He can use my words, my struggle because He redeems the broken and the hurting.)
His Word: “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,…But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Ephesians 4:17,20-24
My thoughts: I’ve been working this week to memorize Ephesians 4:22-24 for my Biblical Counseling (BC1)course so I’ve been going over it and over it. As I have sat trying to learn it, the phrase “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” has plagued me. It reminds me of Romans 12:2 which also tells me to renew my mind.
Quite honestly of all the things I am called to put away wrong thinking is the hardest. It seems to be a battle that I can not win. My mind runs over with thoughts of defeat and negativity. My mind is filled with doubt, guilt and shame. When I’ve been brave enough to open up and share I usually get “you have to renew you mind, put away those kind of thoughts and think upon truth.”
Sigh. I know.I know because I have read those verses also.
I go back and try harder to think about good things, about truth. It works for awhile. Then before I even realize it my mind, and my emotions are filled with shame again. It’s a vicious cycle.
I used to think that I could hide all the negativity and shame in my mind. I tried hard to hide it, but recently I have come to realize I am only fooling myself. You see in reality when my mind is being filled with guilt and shame it shows in my attitude. Evidently, even though I haven’t always realized it, there is a mean look on my face and my attitude comes across angry. At least it’s perceived as being angry.
I’ve been told that I can change the temperature of a room or a group when I am in one of “my moods”. This isn’t new. I’ve heard it all before. I’ve heard it since I was a teen. I give looks “that can kill.” It pains me. I have never understood it. I have tried to be aware of my facial expressions and put on a smile and be pleasant. It works, for awhile. But then I will hurt someone unintentionally by a look, my body language or attitude.
This isn’t good, it’s not leader worthy. It’s not Christ worthy. So I withdraw. I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know what to do. Is that why it seems people have withdrawn from me? Are they tired of trying to figure out if I like them or am upset with them?
In my BC1 class we had to pick a problem to work on. We have to counsel our self. This is the problem I’ve chosen. My “thinking, mean face” problem. I know it’s not funny and yet I do laugh and call it my mean face issue. So wouldn’t you know, so far much of our memory verses and readings have had to do with renewing the mind.
Don’t you just love God and the way He works!
Sometimes I wish people knew that what they sometimes see isn’t really me. I have a friend who constantly tells me that I am super critical of myself and never give myself a break. No one is harder on me than me. It’s true. My inner self sees the real me. The me that still feels so much shame and guilt. I wish they could see that what sometimes comes out as a mean, somber face is just a mind that has gotten lost in who she was and forgotten who Christ says she is.
Recently I read a Pamphlet for class called, Healing of the Mind which gave such hope to me when I read, “When a person has been born again further and continuing corrections are still needed for the mind..."It is possible for a child of God to have a new life and a new heart but be without a new mind." and then “The renewing of the mind is not a corrections which can be made once for all. It is rather a continuing process and a work to which a person should daily lay claim”
Why Hope? Because I realized that I had given up hope. I realized that somewhere deep down I thought I couldn’t be fixed. I knew I couldn’t fix it, I had tried, and others weren’t being much help either. In so many ways I had lost hope of ever changing.
As I have reflected on the verse in Ephesians I am beginning to see it’s not possible to change the old man apart from the work of Christ, not that I was trying, but I don’t think I totally surrendered this part of me to the work of the Spirit before. I don’t even know if I fully understood I needed too.
It will take time, but now that I see and better understand that what I am thinking effects how I behave and that it effects the look on my face and how my attitude is seen I think there will be progress. My plan will be to ask a few around me that I can trust to let me know if I am coming across in a negative way, then I need to pay attention to what my thoughts are during that time. I also need to be mindful and test every thought that comes at me. Ask is this true? If it is not true then I must refuse it. I must not give consent to any negative thought. None. I must also resist the devil. I need to remember I have an enemy who desires to keep me in a place of condemnation and shame. So I must resist those thoughts he loves to whisper into my mind. And lastly I must share every thought with the Lord. I need to allow His Spirit to testify with my spirit as to whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and so on. (Phil 4:8)
My Prayer: Oh Jesus thank you for your Grace, Love and patience with me. Help me to not give up hope, to realize that this renewing of the mind isn’t a once and done thing, it will take discipline, it will take time. Forgive me for the hurt that I have caused. Forgive me of an attitude that has hurt Your image. Forgive me for losing hope and not trusting you in this area. Jesus I pray that as I surrender my mind to the work of the Spirit that You would open my eyes to see and understand those times I am coming across in a way that is displeasing to you. Help me to see those times when I am behaving in a way that betrays the woman I want to be. Jesus I pray too that you might surround me around those who will offer love and grace instead of judgment. I pray that you would allow me to give grace even when I am not. Jesus more than anything you know my hearts desire and I pray that you would renew my mind into the image that reflects the Father. Amen.
Read more stories here…