Have you ever thought of your mind as a physical landscape with many different places to visit? The truth is that there are a multitude of venues in your mind – some of these bring joy and peace while others bring shame, guilt, anger and sadness. Sometimes, we get caught up in cycles where we keep visiting the “ugly” places and replay certain events in our mind, experiencing the same old emotions. If we fail to realize what we are doing, we can become pre-occupied with these places, visiting them often and allowing ourselves to remain miserable and broken because of events from our past.
We’ve all done this to ourselves at one time or another. I’m sure you can recall a time when you were stewing over an event that took place…it was most likely the main topic of your conversation, every time you thought about it you would become sad or angry and maybe you even indulged in a pity party or two. There was a time in my life during my 20’s when I was stuck in this cycle, tormenting myself because of an event that had taken place. It all came to a head one day when my mother (the smart, amazing women she is!), turned to me and said, “Isn’t it amazing that even in their absence, you are still allowing them to hurt you?” I realized that I was stuck and wasn’t moving on with my life and the plan that God had for me because I was too busy torturing myself by a past hurt. Oh, how much time I had wasted!
When I look back on my behavior I realize how much I was hurting myself by constantly digging up old hurts instead of coming to terms with them, forgiving them and then letting them go. In fact, constantly indulging in those unhealthy memories was quite selfish! The truth is that we can’t change our past but we can reconcile with it and move on to the here and now; we can proactively pursue the plan that God has for our life.
I’ve realized that in order to stretch and grow, we need to take time to invest in our self. This is God’s plan for us through His son, Jesus Christ – the “Light of the World”. Salvation from our Lord leads us into His light and we become children of “The Light” – and “The Light” dispels the darkness as our minds are renewed. God will reveal to us the failings of others, as well as our own, that have allowed darkness to enter in the first place. God doesn’t want us to be sad, forlorn or hopeless – He wants us to have a strong mind based on His truth that will control our emotions, passions and lusts. And, He doesn’t want us dwelling in the past but wishes for us to be led by the Holy Spirit and move forward in our lives. Philippians 3:12-14 says, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brothers, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
We move forward in life by allowing God to renew our mind. Humanity is in darkness to a greater or lesser degree, but as Christians we have the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me completely,” it states in 1 Corinthians13:12. We are a work in progress; the old person dies off and we become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
We can still be deceived, however. Sometimes we allow things to enter our mind that are not based on truth. This deception often leads to false expectations and when our expectations are not met, we become upset. This was what Jesus meant about building your house on the sand and how the house will be swept away when the storm comes. But when you build on the rock of Truth you will stand. There is a storm raging inside of us; two laws operating within us. One is the Spirit of Truth and the other is sin. The apostle Paul describes this in the book of Romans 7:22-23, where it states, “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” Paul continues with Chapter 8:1: “There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” We must allow the Spirit to lead and teach us. Sin is deception posing as truth – it rebels against our true identity and against God. It brings all kinds of misery into our life if we allow it. In our society, sin is given a label and an explanation to give it validity and allow its existence. We brand everyone and everything instead of seeking “The Truth”. Political and social pressures enforce accepted norms of sin. If we aren’t on the lookout, the world makes it easy for us to subscribe to all sorts of falsehoods and then peddle them to others. We see it every day as our world becomes more insensitive to blatant sin; by our speech, the way we dress, pornography, music and movies, crime, Current Events, etc. Deception only breeds more deception – we need to keep in mind that we are in the last days and the world will be seeped in sin. That is why we must keep our mind strong and not visit and dwell in dark places. We need to shed light into the darkness and expel it.
It is never too late for us. Thankfully, we have a God of second, third and fourth chances. He knows what we are all struggling with and He will help us overcome every obstacle as long as our heart and mind are focused on Him. God will dispel the darkness and keep us from entering into it again, if we let Him. If you are ever tempted to revisit your painful past, I urge you – don’t go there! Instead start singing and praising our Lord and know that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. We are not miserable victims. We are God’s children and we have His unmerited favor and grace.
Marisa can be reached at [email protected] .