The Forgetting Part of Forgive and Forget
This article first appeared on Soul Care Community. If you did not catch the first post to this companion piece, you can view it here.
I don’t know if any of you are feeling the way I am feeling after an exhausting week of absolute craziness in our news cycle and in our nation. We have words coming at us from all directions, telling us many different things. These words can hurt, telling us lies about who we are and what we are worth. They can take away our hope for better, more peaceful days. They can cause wounds in our hearts and our minds!
Scripture tells us that we are to be constantly made new by the renewing of our minds, but how does that process happen?
Some time ago, I wrote an article about the concept of “forgive and forget.” I covered the forgiveness aspect, and I promised some of our readers that I would follow up with the forgetting aspect. Here’s the thing about forgetting: not only is that impossible without being afflicted with amnesia or inventing that little flashy pen the Men in Black used to erase people’s memories, but it is inadvisable as well. There is a reason our brains remember wounds. That is because it teaches us to protect ourselves from things that harm us. But what about when we are exposed to harmful messages repeatedly?
This is where the concept of neuroplasticity begins. Our brains are created to be this ever-changing, ever-adapting neural center, in which the actual physical landscape of your brain will adjust with every piece of new information. Information that is reinforced repeatedly becomes deeply embedded neural pathways that begin to determine much of the way we interact with the world around us. This is why people who have been wounded adopt dysfunctional behaviors. It is all their brain’s way of adapting for survival.
But, what does it mean when Scripture tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind?” I think God is pointing to this neuroplasticity and telling us to retrain and change the physical landscape of our brains by declaring the truth of Scripture to combat the lies we are continually fed about ourselves and about God. As we trade the truth of God for a lie, our brains begin to deform, but there is hope! We can be re-formed by reversing that process and exchanging those lies for God’s truth. We can do this intentionally by admitting to lies we have believed and declaring God’s truth as a spiritual practice. This is a good way to encounter God’s love in a real, tangible exercise.
Prepare Your Heart:
I prepare my heart for this exercise by a simple prayer, asking God to reveal all truth to my heart and to shine the light of his love on the lies I have believed to be true. I ask forgiveness if I have cooperated with those lies by believing and acting upon them.
After your own similar prayer time, the materials you will need are your Bible, a pen, and paper with two columns marked out.
The Spiritual Exercise:
On your two-columned paper, you will reserve one column to write down the lies you have heard and/or believed about yourself, others, or God. You’ll reserve the right-hand column for the corresponding truth about that subject and an appropriate Scripture reference. Your paper should look something like this:
Once you have written as many or as few as you like, read each lie out loud and refute it with the truth. You’ll say something like this: I have believed ______. I declare today that it is a lie. Today, I choose to believe God, who says _________. (Ex. I have believed that I am not worth protecting. I declare today that it is a lie. Today, I choose to believe God, who says that He is my shield, my fortress, and my warrior.) Do this several times throughout your day. I chose to repeat mine when I woke up in the morning, at meal times, and before bed. Repeat that same list for several days until you feel it is time to move on to new statements.
As you do this, over time, you will find that your internal self-talk begins to change, to become more loving and more reflective of God’s own heart for you. You will also find yourself with more of a positive approach when interacting with others as well as a deeper relationship with God.
Thank You, God, for singing your truth over me so consistently and for reminding me who I am. You made our bodies and our minds with miraculous complexity, and I thank You for giving us a tangible way to change the restless thoughts in our mind and repair the damage the enemy has done in our minds with the truth of your Word.