Dear Mind, let’s flip this.

I have come to learn that you, Mind, are powerful.  I heard someone warn, “mind the mind!”  I know what he meant.

Mind-set shift. Self-limiting beliefs. Renewing the mind. Mindfulness.  These are all terms I have come to learn as I negotiate the reconstruction of my life.  As the decades rolled by and I noticed the vicious cycle of problems, always finding myself in the same place and even managing to get worse each time, it became clear that the problem was within. 

Yes, bad circumstance and tragedies had put me in some of the holes I found myself in.  But trials and tribulations affect everyone without fear or favour. I wondered, Mind, if fixing you would help me avoid the familiar trap doors. Or at least give me a new set of problems, more progressive and more interesting to tackle. Yes, I have been reading Mark Manson and his recommendation to make life more meaningful by growing into better quality problems.

I discovered, Mind, that how you perceive things can be altered. I found that you are not set in a rigid pattern, that you can change, that you can come out from under a crushing rock and fly like a carefree bird.  However, I also saw that sometimes you entered a deep dark cave, and that attempts to get you out only led to further gloomy crevices.  Many times I felt you carry such piercing pain, that it permeated the flesh that held you.  You caused day long migraines as well as aches and pains in all the joints of the body. I witnessed you going blank to protect yourself from annihilation, when whatever you were trying to deal with was simply too much. Yes, many times, Mind, I witnessed your shut down. Closed for service, all operations halted. 

Sometimes, Mind, the situation required medication to alter your state. When the racing thoughts would not stop, action had to be taken. Soon it became obvious that the dark clouds resulted in angry exchanges, wounded feelings, and self-sabotaging decisions. No wonder my life moved in a frustrating vicious cycle. You, dear Mind, were struggling to make sense where there was none to be found.     

I am not a scientist, neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist. So I cannot explain, Mind, why the things going on inside you caused physical pain. Why certain memories caused some sort of short circuit and the muscles around my heart begun to palpitate.  Why it was sometimes hard to swallow food, and other times, I could not eat fast enough.  Mind, sometimes you caused cold sweats and other times such heavy fatigue that getting out of bed was pure torture.  Mind, why did I want to scream when I heard the phone ring, or heard a knock at my door.  I wanted to hide, wanted to lick my wounds in peace, wanted relief from acting like all was fine.  Mind, you know there are times I got so tired of it all, I begged my Maker to take me home and end this hell.

But somehow, I did not lose you. I know that some people think I did, they know themselves, but I knew you were still functioning. Damaged but left with enough fighting power to carry on. 

One of the ways I had found to deal with insomnia was to have 24-hour news bulletins droning on in the background, stopping the racing thoughts filled with my problems. Instead I filled you, Mind, with news about political shenanigans, tragic accidents, terror attacks, economic meltdowns, and mass shootings. Then I heard a preacher recommend a media fast and even though I was sceptical at first, and worried about being uninformed, I tried it. It worked! Even now, I find it difficult to consume this type of media. 

Did you benefit from this Mind?  I believe so. Letting you rest from the constant deluge of news brought you some room to breathe.  This encouraged me to look at other ways to heal you.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, can you show me which of this list of your problems is most acute?” the doctor asked me. My first visit with a therapist was long overdue.  Someone wanted to know about my problems?  I could not believe it. 

I had recently read about a widowed woman who described how six years of grieving had seemed to have no end because she had never really let out her feelings.  She described her coping mechanisms as taking off the lid of a pressure cooker just enough to let out some steam but never letting everything come out in case it overwhelmed her.

Now someone was telling me to let the lid off my own pressure cooker.  I had gone to the clinic on the recommendation of another professional who is also trained at dealing with the likes of you, Mind. She saw that you were struggling.  She had been enlisted to help with an urgent crisis that had befallen the family. She was more than willing to help but pointed out that you, Mind, were full of stuff that had not been dealt with.  As the writer Mark Manson would have put it, I had eaten a lot of shit sandwiches, pardon his French. In order for me to cope with the latest challenge to my children’s wellbeing, I had to get help to fix you dear Mind.

It was time to have a serious talk with you.

Do you remember our (admittedly one-sided) conversation? I said “No one is going to give you peace, no one is coming to rescue you. You have got to work this problem out for yourself. You have to look at this monster of fear and anxiety in the face and stare it down until it slinks away. No one is going to hear those silent screams of yours, people are dealing with their own problems.  Even those who care about you cannot fully understand what you, Mind, are going through. Life is not a dress rehearsal. There is no magical far off future where everything will suddenly work out, where stars and rainbows will rain down from the sky.  You have to find your own solutions.  We are going to take it step by step, one day at a time, even one hour at a time.  If we fall, we get up again and keep going.  No one but you can pull us out of this miserable place.” 

With this, I embarked on a quest to put you on a path to recovery. I tried everything: Personal development books, Podcasts, Therapy, Meditation, Wellness courses, Music, Journaling, Fellowship. Limited doom and gloom media. Limited doom and gloom people. More abundance and less scarcity.

However, the most powerful way to fix you soon became evident. The love affair that I developed with the word of God led me to study and believe the promises in the Bible. Despite previous doubt, I became confident that God would never leave me nor forsake me.  Moreover He has been where I have and borne anguish worse than mine.  I keep reminding you Mind that we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.

Mind, do you remember when we read the Christian author John Piper’s take on what it means to have you renewed.  He says that “The Spirit renews the mind. It is first and decisively his work. We are radically dependent on him. Our efforts follow his initiatives and enablings.” I have learned to surrender you to the Almighty and I can now enjoy the relief of knowing that someone else is in charge. You are in good, powerful hands and I can relax.

Experiencing this is like throwing open the windows in a stuffy room and letting in gusts of fresh air.  It is mind bogglingly freeing (pun intended), to know that every day you, my darling Mind, grow stronger. Strongholds have no more hold over me and I don’t have to stay stuck in self destructive patterns. Now it is easier to spot the lies that could take you off course. Of course problems and trouble will always be with me while I walk this mortal coil but now I have the tools to bounce back.  I am not a helpless victim. I can control the inner world even when the outer one is throwing inexplicable tantrums.

Oh yeah, Mind you heard right.  I have the mind of Christ.

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