The human mind has 100 billion neurons in our brain and every day there are hundreds of new neurons that are created and need to assimilate into their assigned roles. These neurons will look to their environment to know what pathways they are to follow. In essence, these brand new neurons can be taught something new to think!
There's also studies that suggest our neurons are re-birthed throughout our lives, and that by the time we are 50 we will have replaced every single neuron we were born with! (Be Brain Fit, Better Mind Better Life)
Our brains have three different types of neurons: sensory neurons, motor neurons, and interneurons. While all those sound super awesome, we're going to focus on the latter, interneurons.
What Do Interneurons Do?
I'm going to give you a very brief bit of background on what neurons actually do in our brain and why they are so important for renewing our minds.
Scientists believe that neurons are the most diverse type of cell that exists in our body. Neurons are little message-carrying cells, and they each have their own function and abilities. They communicate with each other and make connections in our brain, which in turn, shapes how we think, feel and act.
Each neuron in our brain is given a specific task and place to "hang out." They then communicate with each other through neurotransmitters, or chemicals, and relay information back and forth amongst themselves. The information that is exchanged through neurons back and forth, back and forth, creates a pattern of thought, feeling or action. These patterns are more easily established the next time the same or similar scenario happens.
Scientists call this neural circuits. I like to think of it as a dirt road. The more often you drive the same truck down a dirt road, the more of a track or "rut" will be left behind. Neurons work the same exact way.
From birth our parents or relatives or friends treat us in a certain way and patterns begin to immerge in our brain, good or bad. We begin to believe certain things about ourselves because of how we are treated, and those tire tracks become deeper and more ingrained as time goes on.
Why Is This Important?
I think it's vital to know how God made our brain work in order to truly understand what He meant when He told us to renew our minds in the Bible.
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Simply put, renew means to restore or replenish; to make, say or do again; to revive or reestablish; to recover; to restore to a former state; make new or as if new again. So there is a lot that goes into this word! And God calls us to renew our mind, which means, it is something WE can do.
There are often experiences or situations that happen to us in life that are outside of our control. Maybe we end up in a situation in which a parent yells at us or treats us poorly. Perhaps a close family member or friend hurts us and we are powerless to stop it from happening. There are circumstances that can happen to us as children that are beyond our control.
So let's imagine our dirt roads (neuropathways) for a second. When something happens to us as children, it's like a truck drives around making new roads in our mind. If the situation that happens is extremely damaging, such as physical, verbal or sexual abuse, then it can be like a very heavy truck driving around in our minds creating new neuropathways. Depending on the severity of the situation, it can end up causing fear, anxiety and depression in our adult lives.
But we have a Savior. When we bring our childhood trauma to Jesus He heals us. If there was something that happened to you as a child, no matter how large or small the circumstance, it still affects us in the present if we don't release it at the foot of the cross. Patterns are born from the smallest of traumas, and we need to recognize them and learn to renew our minds in those areas.
Renewing Our Mind, Is Just Changing Our Thoughts!
That's literally all there is to it! There's no magic formula to the verse. All it is is taking a negative pattern or thought and testing it against the word of God.
"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."
There are things have happened in my past, and when the Lord brings them to my attention I surrender them to the foot of the cross. I leave it there in Jesus' care, and then I remind myself of who I really am today in Christ. I am a child loved by my Father. I am healed, I am loved, I am forgiven, I am righteous. Each time I change a negative pattern of thought the flesh is put death and my mind and body are filled with life!
To be spiritually minded just means that we focus on Jesus. And the more I focus on Jesus, the more that peace fills my heart, sou, and mind. Anxiety dissipates and my whole body relaxes.
"You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You."
Remember when I said that neurons create a pattern of thought, feeling or action? When things happen to us as children, the neurons in our brain create new pathways. As adults, we end up reacting to circumstances based on what we believe about ourselves because of these neuropathways that have been created and well-established in our mind. Something happens that causes us to feel a certain way or act a certain way. But we can, and should, change every thought that doesn't line up with scripture.
Our neural circuits (as scientists refer to it) can be changed and renewed (as God calls it). I believe God calls it renewing our mind because he knew there would be thoughts or patterns that would need to be restored to a new way of thinking. He knew we would need to revive or reestablish a new pattern of thought. He called it renew because it's a new way of thinking, a new way of believing.
What Do You Need To Rewire & Renew?
Every time we bring our thoughts captive and change our patterns of thought, we shatter the strongholds that Satan has on our lives. Over time we find that we no longer react to certain scenarios the same way we would have in the past. We have more internal peace and external joy that can be felt by others. People will begin to notice the change in you.
As we renew our thoughts we find that we no longer react or act out in anger and frustration. Now we have dignity and grace in our responses. We no longer are led by how we feel, but we are led by what Christ says is true about us.
If you're beginning this process, or in the middle of renewing certain thoughts, I want to encourage you to keep going. When you start out, it's hard.
It can take months of retraining certain patterns of thinking before strongholds are finally pulled down. And if you find that Satan comes to attack you during this process, keep going. Be encouraged when the devil attacks, because that means you are doing something right.
Remaining stuck in our muddy ruts is what he wants us to do. Personally I don't like living in my own filth. If you're tired of the filth too, then don't let him deceive you into quitting before you receive your breakthrough. God always comes through for those whose minds are fixed on Him because He is faithful. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
And just remember, Satan doesn't attack someone who isn't doing something meaningful for the Kingdom of God. Renewing your mind and bringing every thought captive to Christ is meaningful work. You are setting yourself free from the bondage of past circumstances when you change your neuropathways.
So push on! And remember who you are! You are loved! You are holy! You are righteous! You are chosen by God most high! Hold fast to these truths and rewire your brain by renewing your patterns of thinking. Here's to a healthier, happier, more joyful, future you.
With Joy, Jessica