Jenny went to see Dr. Daniel Amen, a prominent neuroscientist, with a troubling problem. She had been wanting to become pregnant for two years. Finally, she believed that she had become pregnant. Things progressed as they normally did, with all the attending physical signs of pregnancy. At eight months, she went in for her check up only to be told that she wasn’t pregnant at all. Though she had experienced morning sickness, felt movements in her enlarged belly and all the other signs, she was in fact not pregnant. Understandably, this sent her into a world of confusion and hurt which led her to wonder about the trustworthiness of her mind. She arranged a consult with to Dr. Amen.
Dr. Amen writes that her condition is not unheard of; it is called pseudocyesis and is documented throughout the ages, even as far back as Hippocrates (300 bc). After he tells Jenny’s story in his book Magnificent Mind At Any Age (and reassuring us that he was able to help her with some counseling sessions with her), Dr. Amen reminds us of the strength of our minds; Jenny’s condition was one in which her mind became so convinced of pregnancy, that her body mimicked all the external manifestations of pregnancy.
The story echoes a general truth that we see found in scripture: the mind is a powerful component of the way in which God designed us. Jesus tells us to “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37). Paul, meanwhile, encourages us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
But how do we accomplish this task? How do we take every thought captive for Christ? I suggest that first it begins with awareness. First we must become aware of our thought life. So many of us go through the day carried along by every wave of thought that comes along, paying little attention to the thoughts themselves. Journaling has been a helpful exercise for some to become aware of their thought lives. Simply take some time each day to record thoughts and impressions and opinions and emotions. Do this prayerfully, examining yourself and your day.
Beyond awareness there is analysis: are these thoughts justified? Where do they come from? What is the root of them? Simply taking a little time to evaluate your thought life can be a source of great insight. Of course, we must evaluate our thought lives in light of scriptural teaching. This is one of the great reasons for regular Bible reading – for in God’s word, we discover God’s revelation for our lives. The more we meditate on God’s word, the healthier our mental lives may be.
Finally there is action. Yes action. Mental action is still action. Choosing to dwell on some things over others is a mental action. Our memory verse for march commends just such an action: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8). Let your minds linger on the true, the good, the beautiful, for it all points back to the living God. In this action, we must be led by the Holy Spirit, who teaches us all things. Yet as we let our minds linger on the good, we find our lives being transformed by the Holy Spirit.
I hope and pray that we all will become more aware of our inner thought lives, and learn how to bring glory to Christ through them.
Soli Deo Gloria
Note: this post originally ran in the March 2010 issue of The Covenant Courier
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3 thoughts on “Take Control of Your Mind”
I’m reminded of Aristotle’s wisdom: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” If we want our thoughts centered on things lovely, pure, just, etc., we have to practice every chance we get, every time it occurs to us to do so. It is a learned behavior. “Blessed are those who have LEARNED to acclaim You,” said the psalmist (Psalm 89:15a). I’m on the learning curve myself. It’s a delightful place to be!
Right on, Nancy. We choose our thoughts on a daily basis. We’re all on the path trying to learn more and more to take every thought captive for Christ.
Russel, I have written a couple of books on Renewing the Mind, Romans 12:1-2 and taught classes on it since getting trained in Cognitive Counseling. It is a very powerful way to stop Stinking Thinking and learn to habpve the Mind of Christ when the truth of God is combined with Cognitive Brain Science. Dr. Amen is a wonderful source for the deeper teachings.