I lived for many years unaware of the thoughts pounding out a rhythm in my head, like the beating of a war drum. Thoughts of fear, shame and defeat were my companion most days. I had spent years living in survival mode, numb to my own thoughts. I didn’t recognize the poisonous thoughts that raced through my mind, determining where I stepped, and how I lived.
My mind was a battlefield wrought with destruction, and I had no idea.
I will never forget one of my first counseling sessions. I had just poured my story out to my counselor, leaving nothing out, and she responded with, “It sounds like your heart knows the truth, but your mind isn’t convinced.” I blinked, stunned at how simply she had come to the root of everything.
My heart had responded to truth, but my mind wanted to deny it.
The lies were so familiar and comfortable that I didn’t even know how to discern them from the truth of Jesus. My heart yearned for Him and all His hope, but my mind kept beating out the steady drum of lies and defeat. In order to bring my mind into alignment with my heart, I had to trace all those memories back to the beginning, where the lies took root in my mind.
I learned in my journey through the pain of the past, that there is a very real battle raging and the battlefield is seated in my mind. If I can allow the Holy Spirit to transform and renew my mind, then I can engage in the battle as a warrior of light.
Old habits die hard, though. It was so much easier to just keep thinking the way I always had, rather than to unravel those thoughts, and discern lies from truth. It was also terrifying to admit that I believed lies, and let them dictate how I lived my life. Thankfully, the grace of Jesus is great and He empowered me day by day to take the steps towards freedom. There are some tools I discovered in this process that I believe can help all of us in the battle for our minds.
First, I began to recognize His voice.
Jesus said that His sheep know His voice. I once would have said that I didn’t know His voice, but when I look back at my journey, I see where His whisper drew me out of hiding, and where He spoke hope that gave me the courage to press on. Jesus is speaking and each of us can recognize and respond to His voice.
Journaling became the most powerful tool for me in discerning His voice. I poured my heart out to Him in my journals, and then I waited and wrote what I heard Him saying. I began to recognize themes of hope, encouragement and peace in His words, and I learned something.
The screaming voice of condemnation is not God’s voice.
I actually thought for many years that God was mad at me, and so His words to me were always words of frustration and correction. Imagine my deep joy as I discovered that wasn’t true! God was not the one speaking condemnation and shame to me. He was speaking hope and unconditional love!
Second, I had to be honest about the lies I believed.
Once I began to recognize God’s voice as the one of hope and encouragement, it gave me the courage to confront the lies because I knew God wasn’t going to be mad at me when those lies came to the surface.
The lies I lived by created habits and patterns in my life. I believed the lie that God was angry at me, therefore I strove for perfection, trying my hardest to earn His approval. I didn’t know how to have authentic relationships, because I didn’t want anyone to see my flaws.
The lies we believe are like drugs we take, and they come with symptoms.
I began paying attention to my daily interactions and words. I asked myself lots of questions. When someone hurt me, rather than go on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, I stopped and asked Jesus to show me the lie I was hearing that tempted me to spiral out of control. I discovered that I was consumed with pleasing man and it created anxiety and fear in my life on a daily basis.
Third, I asked Jesus to show me the truth that could replace the lie, and the new habit that could be formed by truth.
The lie “I need man’s approval” was replaced with “My identity is found in Jesus.” I began to live this by openly sharing my struggles, and flaws. When God opened doors for me to speak to groups and share my story of sexual abuse, I said yes. When He asked me to begin a blog and share about my process of healing, I said yes. With every “yes” I whispered to Jesus, that lie was replaced with the truth. I didn’t need man’s approval because Jesus defined me. Vulnerability became my new habit. I became bold and courageous because of Jesus in me!
The hope here is that we can change the way we think, and in doing so become the mighty warriors Jesus sees. We are all called to engage in a battle not of this world, and that battle begins in our minds. I’m so thankful that Jesus is willing to come to me daily, and renew my mind!
What thoughts are filling your mind everyday? Do they give you hope and courage to press on, or do they leave you feeling alone and afraid?
The mind can be healed and made new in Jesus. If you will recognize and respond to His voice, call out the lies you believe, and let Jesus replace them with truth, He will make you into the warrior of light you are destined to be.
Shannon Keys makes her home in the Phoenix valley, with her husband, Allen, and two girls. She is a speaker and author. She recently released Abigail, a story of redemption when all hope seems lost. Shannon is the founder and director of Table Talk, an online community for women who need a safe place to share their stories and find guidance for healing. To find out more you can visit: shannonkeys.com