As you think, you build memory in your brain and the thoughts in your brain look like trees. A negative/toxic thought causes little thorns to grow on the branches in the nerve cells. The pockets (or thorns) are filled with a chemical that squirts out poison that makes you sick. Within 4 days you can change your neural circuitry by changing your thoughts. It takes 4 days for the “thorns” to be removed from the “trees”. It takes 21 days to establish a memory without the thorns and then you grow a new memory over the old one.
I never realized how harmful our thoughts could be, literally producing poison in our brain. Have you ever had a negative thought and marinated on it a bit too long to the point where you’re mad over nothing? The next thing you know it turns into a negative reaction, causing emotions to form words that spill out of your mouth like hot lava. Words that burn and cannot be taken back. One thought can manifest itself into something that could have ultimately been avoided.
Since I’ve been on this journey to finding grace, I’ve been intentional in being more level headed and more mindful about how I respond to people in certain situations. Everyone is capable of exploding, and it is difficult at times to make an intentional decision to walk away when it hurts your pride, emotions or ego. I have a short fuse and a quick temper. So considering I’m in a season of being intentional, I had to come up with a plan of attack for how I would respond to a highly charged situation. I had to plan for this like a high school speech! I envisioned myself in the heat of an argument, sitting there so delicately, kindly saying “this is not a healthy conversation and we should revisit this when we’ve both had time to digest the situation”.
Needless to say, in a recent argument, the thorns in my brain were alive and well, full of poison, ready to spew. My kind, delicate, practiced speech went out the door and it was not pretty. A few days later I was convicted as I revisited James 1:19 (NLT)
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
From a medical perspective, within four days, we can change the motherboard to the memory in our brain. In 21 days you can create new habits and patterns, growing a new memory of how you do things. Just as your muscles have memory as you work out in the gym, your brain acts as a big muscle. I’ve had to do things different over and over again to retrain my memory on how I respond to certain situations. One of the most frustrating things is not establishing a new memory in my own mind; it’s establishing a new memory in someone else.
The words “you’ll never change” or “you haven’t done anything different to change” might be the most hurtful words when you’re in the midst of progress. It’s like when you’re trying to lose weight, and the person who sees you every day doesn’t really notice the change. Then someone who hasn’t seen you for an extended period says “Whoa! You look amazing!” Sometimes God will slowly break and soften us to grow but it’s such a subtle progression, someone close to you may not even notice.
I FEEL the change. I can think clearer, carry myself different, talk in a more positive light, and see life more beautiful. The problem is one-negative-thought can flip all that. Just like one day of binge eating destroys your sense of accomplishment of an entire week at the gym. What I am learning is God doesn’t work like that. Someone said to me “you can’t undo what God has already done”. If God has done a new thing in me, a slip and fall along the way does not undo anything he’s already done in me. What I have to do is evaluate what caused the slip and fall.
Psalms 55:22 (NLT) says “Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.”
When I’m not living godly, I’m capable of falling. In the midst of sin, God turns his head (Isaiah 59:2). When I’m living right, God won’t even allow or tolerate a slip and fall! So in order to avoid it, I have to continue living in God’s will, with intention and avoid the things that cause the negative thoughts that poison my progress.
Ultimately, we have to practice positivity. Anytime a negative thought starts to creep in, remember those thoughts are not of God and you have to shut it down. In the event of a fall, go to God, ask for forgiveness, and keep going. I refuse to keep my chin to my chest when I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am now. That is the beautiful thing about grace. It’s something we don’t deserve! I do not deserve to be forgiven but I know that my confession to God through Christ is enough to save me.
Bell Biv DeVoe said it best in their 1990 hit, Poison:
"I sense something strange in my mind
Situation is serious
Let's cure it 'cause we're running out of time"
Thank you for joining me in my journal to Finding Grace…
Enjoy the journey