Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2 NIV
I was driving on the freeway. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with fear and anxiousness. My breathing began to change. I was overcome with emotion but only a few tears fell down my cheeks. I took smaller quicker breaths. And then…I began to hyperventilate. At the same instance, a tingling and numbness formed on the right side of my face and my arm started to go numb.
I had to get off the freeway quick! I got off at the next off ramp and pulled to safety on the side of the road. My breathing continued as well as the tingling in my body. I remember crying out, “Lord please help me! I don’t know what to do!” After a few moments, the numbness subsided and my breathing returned to normal. I had just had an anxiety/panic attack.
This was the experience I had approximately 14 years ago. I used to suffer from periodic panic attacks. I had just begun a right relationship with Jesus and couldn’t believe I was experiencing another attack! I remember thinking… that was something from my old life …it wasn’t supposed to follow me into my new life with Christ! Right?
Doesn’t 2 Corinthians 5:17 say…This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Why did I have these attacks? What triggered them? I was determined to overcome them and sought the Lord for answers.
I first came to realize that once this process of having a panic attack began with my altered breathing and numbness, it was too late. The neurotransmitters in my body had already released and all I could do was just wait it out until it was over.
So how could I stop this process from even beginning? I came to understand that these anxiety/panic attacks were triggered by my thoughts. A thought…a thought that I dwelled on just a little too long…a concerning thought that turned into a stressful/anxious thought that turned into a fearful thought.
Have you or anyone you know ever suffered from anxiety/ panic attacks?
Well, maybe you haven’t, but maybe you have struggled with your thoughts at some point or another.
You may have struggled with negative thoughts, doubtful thoughts, irrational thoughts, condemning thoughts, fearful thoughts, sinful thoughts. Consuming thoughts of your past…stressful thoughts of your present… or worrying thoughts of your future.
Have you ever allowed your mind to travel down roads…all kinds of roads…that have nothing good but a miserable end? Or have you ever been so consumed by your thoughts that they have consumed your entire day?
You may have felt like you were losing your mind and had no control!
Unfortunately, I have come across many Christian women who struggle and can’t seem to control their thoughts… they are overwhelmed and consumed by them. I was one of them.
Thoughts are very powerful. Because thoughts are so powerful, we must better understand where these unproductive, negative thoughts come from…and take control over them! Yes! Believe it or not, we, as children of Christ, can and are able to take control of our thoughts!
It is so important for us to control our thoughts because Romans 8:5 tells us that our thoughts are related to our actions.
For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. NET
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. ESV
Jesus didn’t die on the cross for us so that we can continue to have our old way of negative thinking. We can have freedom and peace and walk in victory over our thoughts! Yes this means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Now, Romans 12:2 also says…Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Our minds must be renewed. We can’t expect our old way of thinking to just change immediately when we become a Christian. It is a process. It is a transformation. And it may take time. But we can do it!
Why do we as women struggle so much with our thoughts?
The bible doesn’t give us a clear answer about women specifically struggling but it does show that woman’s struggle with thoughts began with Eve in the Garden of Eden. This is where Satan planted seeds of doubt in Eve’s mind.
In Genesis 3:1, Satan says to Eve, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” By Satan saying “Did God really say…” he planted seeds of doubt in Eve’s mind. She doubted and began to question God’s goodness, love and motives.
We can see from this example that one way we can have wrong or negative thoughts is by Satan planting them in our minds.
Another way we can have wrong or negative thoughts is…by us. Plain old us! As Christians, we constantly battle between our flesh and the spirit.
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. Gal 5:17NIV
Lining up our thoughts with God’s thoughts is vital to overcoming negative thoughts whether they are from Satan or from us.
So, how can we line our thoughts with God’s thoughts to control our minds?
1) First it is important to determine immediately where the thought is coming from. Before you dwell on it too long…Is it something you thought yourself or is it a thought planted from the enemy? Would God want you to have this thought?
2) If it is your own thought or a thought planted from the enemy, you must compare it to God’s word. Therefore, you must know God’s word well enough to be able to compare what is in your mind with what is in the mind of God.
3) What does the bible say about your thought? For example, if it is a fearful thought, the bible says that God does not give us fear.
For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 KJ
4) So once you have determined that it isn’t a Godly thought, you need to apply 2Corinthians 10:5 and take that thought captive.
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 NASB
That wrong thought pretty much needs to bow down in obedience to Christ. It cannot be placed above the knowledge of God.
5) Find specific scriptures that apply to your specific thought struggle. Memorize or carry those scriptures around with you especially if your thoughts have triggered anxiety/panic attacks.
6) Renewing our minds must happen on a daily basis and therefore we should always be filling our minds with God’s word.
Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Ephesians 4:23 NLT
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 NIV
7) Praise God…Praising Him will take the focus off your negative thought and on to our positive God! And this will bring you peace!
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3NIV
The battle we fight in our minds is not an easy fight and it requires us to renew our minds daily…but take it from me and my experiences…it can be done! We can have freedom and victory in our minds!
1) Do you struggle with anxiety/panic attacks? If so, what thought triggers it?
2) Do you struggle regularly with your thoughts? What thoughts do you specifically struggle with? Negative, sinful, fearful thoughts, etc?
3) Do you feel like you can’t control your thoughts?
1) If you have suffered from anxiety/panic attacks, you need to determine what thoughts trigger it.
2) If you struggle with controlling your thoughts, refer to the practical steps above to gain control over your mind.
3) Surrender your mind to Christ and pray for the Lord’s help in this battle of your mind. Rely on the power of his word to overcome and have the freedom and peace he wants you to have.