When You’re Wondering How To Exchange Your Old Self for a New One
Kathy Bates Is the winner of last week’s giveaway of the new devotional from Grace Fox, Fresh Hope for Today. Congratulations! Read to the end for this week’s book giveaway.
Welcome to Peace Ridge! Got a few minutes to sit with me today?
Question: how often do you lie awake, spinning in your sheets, your brain open like a browser with too many pages displayed?
You’re desperate for a decent night’s rest, but you just Can’t. Shut. Down. Your body has done a full day’s work, punched the time clock, and is ready to turn in for the night, but your Brain Boss insists you still have stuff to do and problems to solve.
You stare at the back of your eyelids, but instead of nocturnal nothingness you’re treated to an endless parade of images opening like file folders labeled Not Done, Never Enough, and NOW!
I vividly recall a time about four years ago when, after months of construction from the foundation up, my new online home finally opened its doors. My longtime domain name stayed the same but was removed from an old web platform and attached to a new one. So simple!
Out with the old place with its dusty digital floors and outdated photos and in with the new.
Only one problem. To new visitors, my website looked fresh, but when I tried to access the site myself, my computer browser insisted on defaulting to my old, archived site. Apparently Mac likes to save himself effort, so he loads outdated content and previously downloaded images.
I was trying to present a new face to the world, but Mac kept reminding me of my old self instead.
The remedy? Something called “cleaning the cache.” Simple enough on a computer.
But how do you clean the cache of your life when all those mental browser windows stubbornly insist on displaying past history?
The page open to self-doubt that’s not, ahem, a secure location.
The window framing chronic worry that’s infected with malware.
The images you accessed in weak moments that you can’t un-see.
That’s old history, so why does your brain-browser insist on displaying the past when you’re in a new, better place now?
Biola University professor J.P Moreland explains that we all have cells in the heart muscle and the brain called neurons.
“When they fire as a group, they wire together and form a network, or ‘groove,’ which can become deeper and deeper. So negative thoughts literally reshape the brain structure to form negative neural patterns.
“The solution is to present my brain to God as an instrument of righteousness by recognizing negative self-talk and turning away from it, while moving toward something that takes my attention in a better direction. Analysts have done brain scans showing that, after time, this can shift your default condition back to joy and peace rather than negativity, anxiety, and depression.”
Is this a simple process, a fix as quick as cleaning the cached history on your computer?
My husband, Mike, and I have talked about this at length.
“I think cleaning out our mental cache of the way we’ve always seen ourselves starts with literally being grateful for all those ‘open pages,’” he commented. “Scripture tells us to be thankful in all circumstances, and that includes thanking God for our personal history and our weaknesses. We have a new identity in Christ, and when our brains default to our old fears, it’s a powerful reminder of our dependence on him.”
I only wanted to clean the cache on my computer, but I’m thinking a lot these days about how to transform my mind as well.
What does it mean to be thankful for our weaknesses?
How can we use our fears and failures as triggers for gratitude?
If we click on our new “site” often enough it will become the default location. But does that mean we will never open the old pages again?
We’ll continue this conversation in the future. I’m attending an extended writers retreat in Texas this week and need to rejoin my group.
Meanwhile, I’ll sleep more peacefully tonight, and I’m praying the same for you.
This week’s giveaway focuses on the topic of marriage: Jennifer Smith’s Wife After God: Drawing Closer to God & Your Husband (a 30-day devotional with nearly 1,800 reviews on Amazon).
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Maggie Wallem Rowe is an author, speaker, and dramatist who writes from Peace Ridge, her home in the mountains of western North Carolina. She is the author of This Life We Share: 52 Reflections on Journeying Well with God and Others, and her new book Life is Sweet, Y'all: Wit and Wisdom with a Side of Sass.