When Birgitta and I were touring a university campus last week, our student guide stopped in front of the psychology building and said, “There’s a giant lecture hall in here with a stage. The professor chose this room so students could see when he performed psychological experiments such as hypnotizing volunteer students.” Our tour leader laughed as he told of the crazy stunts the professor commanded these students to do while they were “under”.
I’ve always told my kids never to allow anyone to hypnotize them and hope Birgitta, as a future college student, will never volunteer for such an experiment. Turning over mind-control to someone else is a dangerous proposition… unless that someone is God.
God doesn’t play mind games with us. As a matter of fact, my mind has been rescued multiple times when I’ve gone off the deep end in my thinking, whether its worry, panic or fear. My frequent prayer has been, “Please tell me what to think right now.” When life spins out of control, I’d rather have the all-knowing God directing my thoughts than my own troubled mind.
In recent weeks, as I’ve tried to process Nate’s cancer and death, I’ve needed God’s mind-control again and again. Certain scenes have bothered me to the point of torment. A handful of regrets have regularly accused me, and fear sometimes threatens at the edge of my thought life. When these things happen, I’ve found it helpful to pray immediately and ask God to “erase that thought.” And he’s done it every time.
It happened again yesterday. I was bothered by remembering something I’d insensitively said to someone, deeply regretting it. Again and again it came to mind, upsetting me anew each time. But there are no do-overs in situations like this, so I asked the Lord to please take that destructive thought out of my mind and never let it return. Today I couldn’t tell you what it was. It’s gone. I remember that I was bothered but can’t remember over what.
This is the kind of mind control God offers. It’s completely safe and accomplishes a cerebral house cleaning unavailable in any other way. And better than that, a mind submitted to the Lord can eventually become Christ-like. Scripture assures us we can have “the mind of Christ,” should we desire it. For example, as we try to understand spiritual truth through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we’re using our minds as Christ used his.
When we suffer well or humble ourselves or refuse to complain, we’re using our minds as Christ did. Each of these is nearly impossible, though, without first turning our minds over to him, swapping our control for his. And when I ask him to erase a recurring memory that’s disturbing me, I’m asking to think like Christ. I’m thankful for the opportunity to ask, and grateful when he answers by ridding my mind of toxic debris.
Whatever was distressing me yesterday isn’t bothering me a bit today, because I can’t remember what it was.
“Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2b)