It is 14 days until Christmas. It’s the second week in Advent and the 8th Day of Hanukkah. December 10th 2018. Are you ready? Did I just raise your anxiety level by 110%? Are you feeling “stress” about all the things left to do? What thoughts and visions are going through your mind today? I am pretty sure they are not visions of sugar plums! Whatever is going on in your mind right now, and whatever circumstance you are in, I assure you that you can decide what you will think about it.
“But you don’t know my situation!”, you may proclaim. “You have no idea the test results I just got”, you lament. “You can’t imagine what my family is like!” you shout. Ah, this is true. I do not know any of that. And I do know that some situations are easier to navigate than others. Who can bear the loss of a child, the loss of a home, the endurance of physical abuse, the terror of no work in sight? Some of life’s journey may seem too much to bear. But take heart, the good news is that we are not the victim of our situations, or stations in life. We were created with great resiliency to reframe, reformate and take captive every thought to face every situation with courage and hope.
My daughter-in-law and I just returned from Dr. Caroline Leaf’s annual conference about thinking and the brain. Did you know that your mind can change your brain? That’s right, you can choose to think differently and actually produce new thoughts in your brain…new physical thoughts! We all know that we have from time to time changed our mind about this or that. Have you ever been able to look at something from a different point of view and come up with a new answer to one of life’s dilemmas?
One example recently has been a personal journey through depression and anxiety. I have battled anxiety and depression all my life. Through prayer, therapy and medication, life has been better in the recent few years. A few months ago I decided to practice the 21 day “Start up your brain” process to take my toxic thinking into the reins of my truer, nobler and more sane mind. Through this daily thinking discipline (see www.drleaf.com) I have been able to wean off my anti-depressants, I have a clearer and more stable emotional countenance and I am even deciding to enjoy the cooler winter weather; which in time’s past, I have detested. I am now entering my 12th cycle of 21 days. It’s working. I am thinking more clearly, able to enjoy more moments of life and I think-you can ask my husband about this- I am a little easier to live with.
Please do not stop taking your medication on my account! But, consider the fact that you, I, we are not victims of our circumstances. We are not destined to be a certain way. Even if the DNA has been set, we have a choice. Dr. Leaf and her cohorts encourage that we are even able to influence our genetic code and thus ward off certain diseases that are caused by inflammation, unmanaged stress and our own toxic thinking. Just think what this means! You have a choice! A choice to be grumpy today or nice. You have a choice to engage in toxic thinking or choose kinder, gentler, more compassionate ways of thinking and behaving. Every moment of every day.
The apostle Paul exhorts us to “take every thought captive in obedience to Christ”. That’s a lot of thoughts! It is not easy, but with His Spirit in us, we can. This is a practice, a discipline really. I am thinking of it as a Graceful Rhythm. Don’t worry if you hit a wrong note …just start over and eventually the symphony of your life will be more beautiful that you would have ever thought. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.
During this Christmas season we remember the birth of Christ. The Word made flesh came to live among us. In thinking about thinking this has become even more profound to me. Thoughts are almost always made up of words. If Jesus is God’s Word made flesh, well then, that is an amazing THOUGHT! I will close with this. May you continue to ponder His words and His thoughts toward you during this Holy Season. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Joyful New Year!
Rebecca Sassenrath, BS, ACC