Our minds have the ability to dream, create and imagine. They can take us to some really beautiful places, but in the same way, they can take us to some dark places as well. The first leaves us feeling hopeful, ushers in peace and allows us to feel happiness. The latter, on the other hand, quickly leads us in places of hopelessness, restlessness, and worry. There is so much bliss that can be birthed from this place, but equally it can abandon us to depths in which no one was never meant to be trapped in.
Unfortunately, we have all spent moments, perhaps even seasons in both…I know I have. Over the past years, I have been really trying to be mindful of my mind. You see, a few years ago, I spent a season trapped in anxiety. To be honest, I never intended to share about this on the worldwide web. In fact, I remember the preliminary discussions about being a part of sharing our lives with all of you on the internet, thinking ‘wow! What an opportunity! I’ll be open with everything, except for this topic.’ Well here I am, and actually, this wasn’t even on my radar to write about for this post, but it brought me here, so (deep breath), here we go!
Life is easy to share when it’s glam and pretty, but we need to learn to live in vulnerability. Seasons like this can sneak in without us even realizing how. Mine slowly and suddenly crept in. It left me panicky and swirling in every single (scary) what if. I would hear stories about tragedies and then fear that it would happen to me or a loved one. Rather than my empathy being a gift of strength and connection, it was demolished by fear. Furthermore, in the process of it, I felt so much shame being there. Shame has no friends and therefore it left me wanting to hide and isolate myself all the more. Fortunately, my husband wouldn’t let me stay there. He legit had to coach me out of it which took months. The panic that went on in my mind eventually affected my physical health which landed me in the ER one night with heart palpitations. After battling with this thing for 7 months, I was set free in an instant by a prayer of freedom and healing…PRAISE GOD!
I understand that it is not everyone’s story, although I do believe that freedom is God’s heart for us. Moreover, just because I have been (miraculously) set free from it, it’s still my intentional choice to stay in that place…which leads me back to being mindful of my mind. For some reason, especially as women, it’s a twisted tendency to find comfort in worrying. Sometimes it’s easy to keep something in the back of our minds to worry about. It’s almost as though we’re meditating on it. The reality is, it’s not our friend. It does not bring comfort and we are not designed like that.
Releasing the shame I felt was a huge breakthrough for me. It led me to share and open up about where I was and allowed light to shine on my dark places.
I only opened up to 3 dear friends about it. One told me to call her anytime I felt overwhelmed by it all. I’d cry to her every time before even getting a word out. She would kindly yet firmly speak truth to me reminding me who I am. I am not the anxiety or fear that I felt.
Next, my husband would tell me the same truths over and over and over again. It was as though each time he was helping me rewire my mind. Almost daily he’d say “If it’s not from God, it doesn’t belong there. When you feel those thoughts come in, take them captive in Christ Jesus. Say NO to them.” It sounded so elementary to me that it frustrated me that I wasn’t good at choosing it. Instead, I’d let the thoughts travel down rabbit trails in my brain and consume me, but each time I said and now, still say NO, sometimes even audibly, it leads/keeps me in freedom.
When opening up to another friend, she shared her season of anxiety with me…I cried thinking none of my friends would ever understand. She did. And she shared, “If my story can be an encouragement to even just one person then having walked through it all was so worth it.” I was that one person. That echoed word often echoes in my mind. There are people who need to hear your story. In doing so it’ll help them become free and you even freer.
Through it all I’ve learned to say ‘no’ when I feel anxiety or fear come in. If my thoughts and imagination try to take me to dark places or swirl around me like an annoying fly with their what-ifs I tell them “NO, you are not my friend.” It may sound ridiculous, but it’s true and totally works for me. If I still need reinforcements I’ll speak my verse of truth over myself… Psalm 121:5-8
The LORD himself watches over you!
The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
The LORD keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
How can you be more mindful of your mind? Is your mind in a place of being renewed? Evaluate how you’re feeling: do you feel hopeful and at peace or are you restless and in a place of worry? Examine what you let in that influences your thoughts- TV, music, movies, books, social media, etc. Do you need to make any adjustments here? Choose to partner with the Lord. Let him be the gatekeeper as you become more mindful of your mind. Wherever you are on your journey, know you’re not alone. Know there is freedom to be found in vulnerability. Yes, it seems scary, but find someone who you can trust. Your vulnerability will shine a bright light on the darkness and it will have to go. Finally, your journey of being set free is the key to someone else’s freedom.