Choose Your Fate

Something Has to Change: Episode 8

Meggan Stephens

1/17/20244 min read

low light stage microphone photography
low light stage microphone photography

Scrapbook Mind

The host describes the mind as a mental scrapbook. The mind has an incredible ability to hold onto memories, not only with images, but with all of the senses. For example, every time I smell honeysuckles, my mind takes a journey to the summers of the late 90’s, to my grandparents’ back yard with my younger sister. I can vividly see us picking the flowers off the fence-line vines, pulling out the middle stem and tasting the tidbit of sweetness hidden on the inside of the honeysuckle. As I recall this memory, I can remember the smell of fresh-cut grass and almost feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. This is the power of the mind. If you think on something carefully enough, you can become entranced with yesterday, not realizing that what you’re thinking on in the moment isn’t actually happening.

The disadvantage of a scrapbook mind is that we tend to highlight the negative memories. As I’ve mentioned before, my mother passed suddenly in July of 2022. The loss was unexpected and traumatic. Now, every time I pass Grady Hospital, my mind instantly travels to that day. It is as if for a moment, the entire day flashes before my eyes. Just as I can recall the smell of grass and the taste of honeysuckles, my mind can also bring back the chill of the ICU, the song that played during the drive through the storm on the way to the hospital, and the sound of the ventilator. The flood of emotions associated with that day come back as well. This is the power of the mind.

Although you may recall a great deal of good times in your life and relationships, it’s likely the bad times are more prominent or easily remembered. It is as if we hold minimal value in those moments when we’re surrounded by loved ones, laughing and enjoying each other’s presence. Memories are always associated with emotions, and traumatic experiences tend to leave more of a lasting impact than joyful ones. So how do we begin to throw out the negative memories and replace them with positive ones? There must be an intentional redirection of thought accompanied by a desire to develop new neural pathways.

Neural Pathways

Everyone has developed familiar roads of thought, neural pathways in the mind. We become accustomed to making decisions based on our past experiences, finding ourselves living in the present, focused on the past. Relationships become a suitable illustration of this concept. Some of us have found ourselves escaping a toxic or abusive relationship only to bring “emotional baggage” into a future relationship. Wounded and damaged, one will begin to treat the new partner harshly and unjustly, associating their behaviors with that of the previous partner. In reality, the relationship is completely different. Your mind is what is stuck in the past, programmed to think a certain way based on how you feel emotionally. You will begin to destroy the new relationship on account of your mind being conditioned to toxicity, so much so that when things are going well, you feel uncomfortable.

There is dopamine associated with emotions. My sister once shared how she was given the realization that she enjoyed being sad. It becomes an oxymoron, yet is scientifically possible. This directly relates to what was said about habitual emotions in Episode 6. Defaulting to a familiar emotion is effortless. It’s important to understand that you cannot think positively while feeling negative, nor can you think negatively while feeling positive.

Stephen encourages the audience to create new neural pathways in the mind. Rather than seeking out the negative, focusing on everything that is going wrong, rehabilitate your mind to seek out what is going right. Matthew 7:13-14 speaks of a fork in the road on the path of your mind. One leads to despair and destruction while the other leads to life and unspeakable joy. You are able to choose your own destination. As with any change, creating new practices, habits, and pathways in your mind will take work. Change is always challenging. How badly do you want to reshape your mind? A saying comes to mind, “If you wanted to, you would.”

Self-image VS. True Self

The host goes on to speak of the difference in self-image and the true self. Often times, the way one views themselves is not who they truly are. Someone else’s negative opinion of you can create a false belief of who you are. This begins as early as childhood. You may not realize it, but children are always listening, even more so when they catch on that you’re talking about them. If you find yourself speaking negatively about a child, “they’re aggravating, clumsy, spoiled, unintelligent, disobedient” etc., you’re distorting the self-image of that child. They will then seek to prove you correct. In their eyes, what they hear you say of them must be true. After all, who knows a child better than their parent? Be mindful to speak positive things over children.

A distorted self-image will prohibit you from discovering who you truly are. God doesn’t make junk. You were not designed to be clumsy, forgetful, depressed, anxious, or addicted. The reality is that you were designed in His image, in His likeness, fearfully and wonderfully made. To discover your true self, you must be adventurous. Be willing to step off the path you’ve been traveling and turn around. The road you’ve been walking has led you further and further from who you’re called to be. Because you were made in the likeness of the Creator, you have been given the ability to create your own destiny.

Something Has to Change

The "something" that has to change is the way in which you understand your destiny. Contrary to popular belief, your destiny is what you make it. Cultivate a vision for your life moving forward. Despite what you may have been taught, God does not desire for anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance and receive eternal life. Though you may think your fate has been sealed, God is calling you today to be the decider of your own destiny, and in case you don’t know what to choose, He urges you to choose life.

Contemporary Speaks has been consistently laying the basis for how to develop and implement lasting change with biblical principles and practical recommendations. The host, Stephen, compassionately opens the eighth episode of Something Has to Change with a gentle reminder that it’s never too late to transform your life. Where you’ve always been isn’t where you always have to be. In order to move beyond the limitations that have been placed on your growth, you must become a student in the art of thinking.

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