At some point, each of us has had a dream that we have let go of, or deferred to an unknown date. Sometimes, these dreams are a reflection of the desires of our hearts, and at others, a wish that we have kept hidden since childhood. There are a number of reasons why we sometimes let go or defer our dreams. I want to dive into one area today, the dreaded persistent record.
Sometimes our dreams are never realized as a result of the records that continuously play in our heads. It may be in relation to negative statements made by a parent, or from someone we trusted and gave our hearts to. Harmful statements can create huge stumbling blocks for us. When we cannot push through them, it is helpful if we take time to reflect on their meaning and truth.
When I take time to reflect on the meaning of some of the persistent records in my head, it is sometimes because there is some truth to it. If we use an objective person, Moses from the Old Testament, he feared standing up and being a leader for a number of reasons. In the book of Exodus, we see that he had previously killed an Egyptian and had a history of stuttering. In his mind, there was no way that people who knew of these things would ever think of him as a credible person, or follow his leadership. However, Moses had worked to make amends, made a family and shown himself faithful even within his extended family. All of which shows continued growth and maturity since that time. It did not erase what he had done, but it did in his own mind. And, yet once he was able to push through that barrier, look where his story led, and all that he was able to witness!
There are also times in which we have to consider the level of truth to the records in our minds. There are times when people say things and do things to others out of their own pain and hurt. Although we initially recognize this, it is hard to do so after it is repeated for so long, and we begin to take on those words, stories, and emotions as our own. There are also times when, after hearing them for so long, we begin to allow those things to take a part in our lives. This would be an instance when we would have to come to terms with the fact that “truth” is not present, and instead, a record needs to be broken.
Getting Rid of the Record
“but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV
One of the strategies that is used within therapy by some therapist is based within a therapeutic approach called cognitive behavioral therapy. Within this approach, the first step would be for the person to work to gain a better identify these themes and what triggers them. The next step would be finding ways to challenge them. Often times it is easy for people to come to the realization of the first step. We tend to know the themes that play in our minds, whether we want to admit them or not. We also know the things and people who trigger negative emotions and thoughts. The harder part is challenging them so that we can move past those barriers.
This is where the above scripture comes in. While some things are hard when it is within our own strength, nothing is impossible when we walk in the strength of Christ. Finding ways to understand how He sees us, and the dreams that He has for us provides us with the hope we need to keep pushing forward toward hope. It is important that even in dark times we keep in mind that he created our inmost beings and knit us together when we were still in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139: 13). This means no matter how far we deviate from our purpose in life, it can all be used to make us stronger and help us to reach our ultimate goal.
Using God’s word to change the themes in your mind will take time, but can be done in the ways you choose. There are apps that send a daily Bible verse. You can use devotionals, and the YouVersion app (https://www.youversion.com/) has a range of them that span from 3 days to an entire year. But, finding a way to regularly read God’s Word would just be the first step. The second step would be to find ways to put his word into practice and hold yourself accountable to it. This may mean using a journal that allows you to set goals, but also making the changes you are reaching towards known to those that you can trust to pray with and for you, and to challenge you when you are going down a different path. YOU can choose how slow or fast this part goes, but the key is making active choices each day to integrate the steps you are learning into your life.
The bottom line is that you have to get enough “light” into your path that it blocks out the darkness. Taking active approaches utilizing cognitive behavioral strategies consistently helps to do that, and there is evidence of neurocognitive responses to the effective use of these strategies with a number of disorders (e.g., http://hrcak.srce.hr/file/96933). If we seek to renew, we learn a new path, and begin to see the plan God has for us in its entirety.
If we return back to Moses’ life, we see how things were interwoven together. Even though he was born during a period when all males were being killed within his culture, his own life was not only spared but he grew up in a palace, which allowed him to receive the knowledge he needed for his position later in life. He ended up being a strong leader, and led the Hebrews out of slavery and recorded the Ten Commandments. Moses did make mistakes later on in his journey, which also teaches us that no one is perfect. And even in spite of his mistakes, he is still referenced in the New Testament in regards to these achievements. In essence, our mistakes do not define us, or defer the dream when we choose to push forward.
What dream have you deferred?
Has the dream not occurred because of your unwillingness to challenge unhealthy thoughts and move forward?
Are you, like Moses, afraid to push forward?
How can you begin to challenge those thoughts today?
What scripture can you begin with?
Is there someone you can trust to begin this journey with you?