OH MY GOODNESS! I have been impacted by something so transformational that I don't even know where to begin! I don't know if I even have the capacity to relay to you all that God has shown me that has changed my life so significantly, but I will try...
Several weeks ago, I was reading an article by a woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of having tried to commit suicide. Her story is one of remarkable recovery and change. I was so curious about it, I did more research into studies about brain function.
The result of my search was that of Science colliding with God! Not colliding in the sense that they clashed, but that Science CONFIRMED Scripture head-on for me, and my own brain began to explode with excitement over what I discovered! It has changed how I look at Scripture forever!
My sweet second husband, Rick, suffered a brain tumor that took away the entire bottom half of his vision. Doctors told him that the brain can re-learn everything except for vision. He had no choice but to learn to live with that disability. My study of the brain confirmed that the brain, indeed, can be "re-wired!"
This is the sentence that captured my attention: "What actually changes in the brain are the strengths of the connections of neurons that are engaged together, moment by moment, in time. The more something is practiced, the more connections are changed and made to include all elements of the experience (sensory info, movement, cognitive patterns). You can think of it like a "MASTER CONTROLLER" being formed for that particular behavior, which allows it to be performed with remarkable facility and reliability OVER TIME."
Immediately upon reading this, God showed me that this is why He tells us in His Word to MEDITATE upon His Word! God, Himself, once we commit our lives to Him, becomes our "Master Controller!" He has given us His Word (the Bible) to show us how best to live. He created us and He says in Isaiah 43:4-5: "You are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you. Do not be afraid, for I am with you." His Word to us tells us that He sent Jesus so that we can "have a rich and satisfying life" (John 10:10). God tells us to "renew our minds" through His Word...Scripture! Romans 12:2 states, "Let God TRANSFORM you into a new person by changing the way you think." This is EXACTLY what Science says must happen to make any change in our brains! We must change the way we think! Science even now tells us that, "Your brain has a natural negativity bias which means it constantly looks for, learns from, and holds onto anything it considers a danger or loss with much more gusto than something neutral or pleasant. Bad memories even get stored differently."
To change any habit, etc., we must change the "Default" our brain automatically goes to based on our already hard-wired habits!
Brain research shows that "Your brain actually wires itself and forms neuronal connections based on what you do over and over in your life. Vegging out in front of the TV, having a sugar fix, sipping soda, fixing a cocktail to unwind after work, smoking cigarettes, biting your fingernails. These activities literally become wired into your brain." To "re-wire" our brain to change a habit, therefore, we must change what we do "over and over" in any given circumstance! This is the answer to overcoming strongholds, or bad habits, in our lives. This is the very definition of, "Get behind me Satan!" (In Matthew 16:23, we even see Jesus saying to Peter, "Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God's.") We must do exactly what the Bible tells us to do: Acknowledge the wrong way of thinking, quote Scripture, and do it God's way! ...Over and over and over...and the neurons that "fire together" gradually begin to fire together in a new pattern...the pattern you desire for your life...rather than the other habit that became your "Default" through its repeated use!
Ephesians 4:23 says, "Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God."
In my research I found this quote: "There's a traditional saying that the mind takes the shape it rests upon: the modern update is that the brain takes the shape the mind rests upon. For instance, if you regularly rest your mind upon worries, self criticism, and anger, then your brain will gradually take that shape--will develop neural structures and dynamics of anxiety, low sense of worth, and prickly reactivity to others. On the other hand, if you regularly rest your mind upon, for example, noticing you're all right right now, seeing the good in yourself and letting go...then your brain will gradually take the shape of calm strength, self confidence, and inner peace."
I came away from hours of brain research sooooo excited about being a Christian! God so very clearly showed me how brilliant He is, how dearly I am loved, how intricately He has made us, and He specifically wanted me to know that I know that I know that He is Sovereign. He is in control. And, He knows exactly how to make my life beautiful, peaceful, happy, contented, and, most importantly, He wanted me to see how what He has been trying to teach me my whole life is even just now being backed up by Science. He showed me...once again...that He "is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." (Revelation 22:13) Science always has and Science always will FOLLOW AFTERWARDS. God already has all the answers for our life. God allows science to confirm Himself, and I absolutely adore that! Every time this happens, it thrills my soul! God loves to confirm Himself powerful and loving!
I wish I could convey the great joy and happiness God has brought into my life via this "little article" I "just happened to read" and which "just happened to lead" to the research that has forever changed my life! God tells us in Psalms 32:8: "The LORD says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control...unfailing love surrounds those who trust the LORD."
I praise God today for His sweet guidance in my life. I began several months ago to walk and memorize Scripture. He has been showing me throughout my life that memorizing Scripture and praying it back to Him was the way to overcome sin in my life...to overcome fear through faith...to have faith in Him in all circumstances.
I overcame panic attacks in my life simply by trusting God with it. I allowed Him to lead me to wellness. I just knew if I was to be well, it would be through Christ. I instinctively just knew this was a spiritual issue for me. God first led me to the verse, Isaiah 26:3: "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!" Then, I learned how to "fix" my thoughts on Him: God led me to the verse, John 1:1: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
The Word is Jesus. Scripture is God's Word to us. So, I began to meditate on Isaiah 26:3 every time I would wake up in panic in the middle of the night. I would quote it whenever I was hit with panic during the day. Then, I learned that if I coughed, turned my head, and began to think about something else (distraction!), the panic attack subsided. I did this every time a panic attack struck and, over time...doing the same thing over and over...after about three months, I quit being hit with panic attacks.
About a year later, I woke up in the night with the room "swirling," and I didn't understand what was going on. The Lord showed me this was Satan "tempting" me with panic, just disguised with different symptoms than before. So, I shouted out loud, "Go away, Satan!" and I began to say over and over the name, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus," because in Proverbs 18:10, the Bible says, "The name of the LORD is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe." Pretty quickly, I was no longer attacked in this way. James 4:6-7 says, "As the Scriptures say, God opposes the proud but favors the humble. So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you." After just a couple of times of this happening to me and me immediately quoting Scripture, I have not been paralyzed by panic attacks for decades.
Later, the Lord showed me that the reason I was having panic attacks in the first place was my desperate attempt to "control" my life. At the time they began, I was going through a very difficult stage of life and felt "out of control" in my life! God revealed to me that I was not trusting Him to lead and guide me...not letting Him be the wise "master controller" of my life! God showed me in Daniel 4:26, about King Nebuchadnezzar, "You will receive your kingdom back again when you have learned that heaven rules." God. Rules. Not. Me! I can trust His wisdom in the things He allows to happen in my life. Period.
God continues answering my prayer for healing from a stronghold I have been dealing with for ages! He has used Science to show me He knows best. From the beginning, He has told me to memorize His Word. He has the answer to every question in my life. To every problem I have. When my wonderful husband, Paul, and I purchased my engagement and wedding ring 45 years ago, the kind jeweler we purchased it from also sold us a beautiful little Bible with a Mother-of-Pearl cover on it and he said to us, "The answer to every problem you will ever have is right here in this Bible!" And, do you know what? Forty-five years later, I can look back and he was spot-on! God has answered every single problem I have ever had through His Word and prayer! And, God has, indeed, given me the abundant life He promises! I cannot praise Him enough today!
I now have pages and pages of Scripture printed out to read over. I am overcoming a stronghold of gluttony...overeating...eating more than is necessary and good for me. Folks, can I tell you, this is the most difficult thing I have ever had to deal with in my life! It has bamboozled me for decades. Stopping it has defeated me for years. It has been a spiritual defeat for me.
God has led me on a journey toward victory in this area of my life. I would not for one second change how He has dealt with me. Every step of the journey has been important...not only for healing of the addiction, but for the spiritual insights I've gained as a result of each step taken on the road to recovery!
God now has me walking my 30-minute "praise walk," reading beautiful verses that answer all the reasons "why" I overeat and they give me "God's mind" on each matter. I am literally "re-wiring"..."renewing"...transforming...my mind to become like the mind of Christ! I am literally changing my brain patterns (confirmed by "Science!") from its former "associations" and am forming new ones! I am gaining new "defaults" to go to rather than to food! For instance, I have listed every possible reason I can think of for "why" I go to food rather than to God for comfort: pain of relationships, boredom, "everyone else is eating and I'm not hungry yet", loneliness, stress, anxiety, anger, worry, tiredness, frustration, overwhelmedness, fear, stupidity, feeling out of control, guilt, sadness, hate, depression, wanting to reward myself, hurt, insignificance, rejection, sense of God's displeasure, unhappiness, embarrassment, being "old and unimportant," feeling that "nothing matters," comfort, having no husband, disappointment, discouragement, confusion, bad memories, lack of self-control, temptation...I have listed every reason I can think of with God's help.
For each reason I overeat, I have googled and found beautiful verses to keep me from going to food. I can now go to God through these verses and re-train my mind to think about relationships, frustration, discouragement, insignificance, comfort, etc., the way God wants me to think about them! I love this one for when I am tempted, for instance, "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind, and God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13. I am re-training my brain to default to this verse...to look for his sweet way of escape...to say, "Go away, Satan!"
I know that I know that I know that it won't be long and these new ways of thinking will take over and these painful "associations" and eating will no longer go together; rather, painful events in my life and these new, constructive and healthy associations of Scripture will begin to "fire together" in my mind. Soon, just like the panic attacks of old, I will be free from overeating! Praise God!
I have become amazingly happy. I now go to bed happy and I wake up happy. I find my mind ruminating upon God's Word of happiness, comfort, and peace! I used to go to bed scared and worried and I woke up the same way. My mind is beginning to rest upon God's Word and Truth. I am waking up to songs of praise to God, my Savior, instead of negative, worrying, unhappy thoughts.
THIS! Yes, THIS is why Jesus came. He came to save us from ourselves and how we automatically tend toward our negative and protective nature because of sin in the world! He came that we might know how to renew - "re-wire" - our brains...our minds...and enjoy the abundant life He has promised to those of us who are His children through Jesus Christ! It is IMPOSSIBLE without the renewing of our minds!
So, we can choose to use the "Science" of neuroplasticity to work our tails off, trying as hard as we can to "re-wire" our brains in man's best efforts, or we can choose to embrace the simplicity of God's way...meditating on His Word about all that pertains to our lives. Truly, the answer to any problem we have is found in God's Holy Word to us.
Today, it's so easy for us to simply google what God's Word has to say on __________. (Fill in the blank!) Print out the verses that God stirs your heart with and read and pray them back to God every day and whenever temptation comes your way. You can do this. Freedom is within reach! God says it best in John 8:31-32: "Jesus said to the people who believed in him, "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. AND YOU WILL KNOW THE TRUTH, AND THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE."
Dear Ones, learn the truth about what GOD says about you and your life. The hateful things others say about you, the bad things you say about yourself, and the harmful things that have happened to you...that is not the truth! What Satan says to you to deceive you with is not truth! Get the truth engrained in the beautifully-made brain God has given you! Make new neuronal connections in your brain by memorizing Scriptures to go with whatever you are trying to change. I also now tell myself over and over that "I don't eat in bed. I don't eat when I watch TV. I don't listen to the news (because I don't want my mind ruminating - resting on - fear). I don't eat when I read a book. I wait for my stomach to growl to eat. I eat only about a fist-sized amount of anything I want (the size of a normal stomach) when I do eat." And, as I do this over and over and over, each time I do it, my brain is computing it.
I am making new associations for myself. I am stopping associating reading a book and other enjoyable and good things with food. Food is for nourishment...not an entertainment, not a reward, not a comfort. Food is a blessing to be thankful to God for in and of itself. God says in 1 Timothy 4:3, "God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth. Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer."
The articles I read on brain function said that with discipline, hard work, and over time, the neurons that fire together to make the "defaults" that our brain automatically goes to in any given situation, will absolutely change. When I read that, it served to remind me how very, very lazy I have been in my Christian walk to memorize Scripture. That if I had consistently done it like God exhorts us to do, I would already have been so much further in my mind becoming like the mind of Christ's! I have at least been wise enough to recognize that for every problem I encounter, God has the answer and I'd better look up the Scriptures I need to memorize and pray! And, God has been faithful always to be true to His Word and rescue me...but I am thinking that much precious time from "problem" to His answering me has been wasted simply because I HAVE been like the "senseless horse and mule" God talks about in Psalms 32:8! I have bucked and balked and tried to control situations on my own and in my own way and God has very gently and sweetly tried to keep me on the pathway that is best for my life. I praise Him for His patience with me!
I pray today that God will use this article to help someone reading it who has come to the end of their wits...someone who is ready and willing to change. The answer is that we must find the way to change what our habitual default is. And, the only way to do that is to do the thing in a new way, over and over and over. Then, our brain will have re-learned how to respond in that particular situation. The overarching solution is to give your situation to God...let Him show you the verses He wants you to know and to learn about Him. Then, you can input this new thinking into your brain. And, every time you go to that rather than the old default, your brain is learning to change to it instead. Take the time to do the googling of scriptures for your situation, to print it out or write it down and read it every day! Practice over and over going to it when you are tempted.
You and I can do this hard work and discipline if we know it is going to make a difference. Science has proven it just takes changing what we do each time to create a lasting effect. Knowing that it is just a matter of time and hard work makes this totally doable! We can absolutely do this! I have already seen it change me in spectacular ways in a very short period of time.
With every new skill we learn, the brain records the good tries as well as the bad passes. The more good tries we are successful with, the more the brain adapts to having that response. Praise God for how He has made us! Praise God He is FOR us! And, praise God for answered prayer!
"If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!" (John 15:7)