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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

When You’re Wondering When You Can Exchange Your Old Self for a New One

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 work 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!

After months of construction from the foundation up, my new online home opened its doors last week. 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 Out with the old place with its dusty floors and outdated pictures on the walls and in with the new.

Only one problem. To visitors my new home looks fresh, but when I try to visit myself, my computer browser insists on defaulting to my old, archived site. Apparently Mac likes to save himself effort, so he loads outdated content and previously downloaded images. I’m trying to present a new face to the world, but Mac keeps 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, he writes, “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 discussed this today as we returned from a lengthy road trip.

“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?

Let’s continue this conversation next week. Meanwhile, I think I’ll sleep more peacefully tonight, and I’m praying the same for you. Please join me back here for another view from the ridge. Sweet dreams!


@2019 Maggie Wallem Rowe,

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