I was sitting in a Bible study group when the lone man in the room made a simple, though unpopular, comment,
“I believe issues can be resolved by changing our thoughts.”
Immediately, I shifted in my seat as I looked at the women and felt the increasing tension. I have no recollection of the discussion other than his words. I remember the looks and the responses shooting like arrows at him. The following day there would be emails of concern that he was pushing a non-Christian agenda. The reaction to those simple words was remarkable. The group disbanded and our time came to an end.
That statement changed my life. I would love to thank the brave man (Mr. P) for his profound advice. The reaction of the group stays in my mind as well. What frightened them so bad they felt the need to send emails and complaints? Why did they question his Christian faith in suggesting we have more control than we think?
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:1-2
Do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Clearly, what Mr. P shared was biblical. I love scripture. God knew all the challenges we would face mentally and set us up for success in the battle. Unfortunately, this world fails to believe something as simple as renewing your thoughts could bring about healing. The pharmaceutical industry would not thrive if the prescription said to start renewing your thoughts three times a day.
Renewing our minds is to change our thinking patterns. Intentional renewal of our mind will closely align our thoughts with the will of God. If we test our own thoughts by the Word, we will eventually, through trial and error, collide with what is good and acceptable, and look at that, perfect! The key to renewing our mind is to be persistent in our progress. Every day and every situation will differ. It will take genuine effort to renew your thought process. You cannot expect perfection overnight. In fact, when you discover one success, out will pop a new area that needs work.
If you are a Christian dealing with a mental illness, it can be difficult to look at the Word of God and believe the messages apply to you. I began my salvation journey battling depression, and the first thing I looked for was something to give me hope through the chaos. King David was my first inspiration. The first line of scripture I read was “..I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy..” (Psalm 116) I was desperate for mercy; God provided the perfect message at the perfect time.
When reading scripture, beautiful words jump off the page and offer peace and hope. The Holy Bible is a love story meant for the world. God placed the inspired Word within the world so that those who believe will not conform to the world, but stand out as His children. This complex and diverse family of believers thirsts for the message of their creator. Mental illness will never change that. Just as the mentally well believers call out for the Lord, so do I. There is no shame or judgment in the cry of the broken.
Society is lost apart from God. We see it every day. The media delivers the worst of the stories to our living rooms in hopes of better ratings and viewers. Constantly force-fed negative stories, our minds take in the junk. It is easy to be conformed to this world if we allow it. We sit comfortably in our high chair as the devil himself feeds us one spoonful at a time. It requires dedication to consume only the healthiest bits of information, and devotion to ingest and transform every thought into purity and righteousness.
As a Christian, I choose to offer my life to God, mentally ill and all. I believe that with the help of the Holy Spirit, I am capable of renewing my mind, to control my thoughts. Doing so sets a trajectory destined for a collision with the will of God. He wants the best for me while I am in this world. Renewing my mind is the path I must take.