First, a ceiling light in the kitchen went out. Then, the dishwasher quit working. Finally, I noticed rotting wood on the outside of my house. Luckily, these three events did not occur all at the same time, but they were part of my journey over the last few years. This was my activating event—the breakdown of stuff around the house. Now, my belief about this event was that I was incapable of fixing anything and, therefore, helpless in this situation. I felt overwhelmed and discouraged.
This week, we are learning how to best take care of our mental health. There are four steps: Pause — Evaluate — Challenge — Replace. We already read about the first two earlier this week. Today, we will talk about how we need to challenge our errant thoughts and beliefs about an activating event.
As I paused to evaluate my beliefs about myself and my ability to handle home repairs, I realized I needed to challenge some very wrong beliefs that I had been carrying for far too long.
You see, my ex-husband was extremely good at fixing things. He has a background in electrical engineering and is a software developer. Unfortunately, as he worked on projects, he did not explain to me what he was doing and why. He said he didn’t have the patience and that I was too stupid to understand.
At first, I was taken aback—I have always been scientifically and technologically inclined! When I was growing up in Germany, one of my most favorite places to visit with my father was the Deutsche Museum in München (Munich), which is a huge museum for science, technology, and engineering. I loved learning how things worked!
Nevertheless, I allowed his words to take root in my heart, and even with a Ph.D. in neuroscience, I felt too stupid to know how to fix the light, evaluate the status of the dishwasher, or replace the rotten wood on the outside of my house. So, being suddenly a single mother with two young kids and a house where appliances and fixtures were developing issues, I needed to challenge these errant beliefs about myself and the situation.
2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Challenging our beliefs about a situation takes effort. As Paul says in the verse above, we have to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. I had to remember back to my childhood and think about how I loved figuring out how things worked. I also thought about some of the other negative dynamics at work when my ex-husband would say such demeaning things to me. Tomorrow in LivingItOut, we will talk about how to replace our thoughts. For today, know that it is possible to challenge the story running through your head. And, I can proudly say that I figured out how to fix the light, researched the best dishwasher to replace my old one, and found the best solution for the rotten wood. You should have seen my victory dances each time! (Well, maybe on second thought, it’s best no one saw them!) Each successfully conquered challenge made me realize how erroneous my old beliefs had been.
Is there an area in your life where you may be holding on to erroneous beliefs or feelings? How did those thoughts and feelings come about?
Make a list of the negative thoughts and beliefs you are holding on to about yourself. Think back to your past, perhaps going all the way back to your childhood, or think about other areas of your life where you might be excelling at the same thing in a different context. List the things that you could use to challenge those negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself.
Dear Father in heaven, please give me the strength to challenge the negative thoughts and feelings that I may have about myself or a given situation. With your help, I can identify and challenge the erroneous story I have been telling myself or that others have been telling me. Please help me to build a new picture of myself and my abilities, to see the potential you see in me, and then to fulfill your vision for my life. Amen.
This post was written by Cordula Mora. Cordula is a neuroscientist who currently works in the Provost office at Bowling Green State University. She was born and raised in Germany, then spent many years living in New Zealand before settling in the US almost 16 years ago. She was raised in a German Lutheran church but feels blessed to have been spiritually awakened when she was introduced to CedarCreek Church. She thanks God every day for all the blessings in her life, including two amazing daughters and a wonderful man who loves the Lord.
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