Today is one of those days when I thought about what I was going to write today and thought, “Really? You are going to confess what? You think that is authentic? Isn’t this blog about telling the truth even when it hurts and is really humbling?” But I decided to write it anyway because what I have to say is true and makes me smile with gratitude. So I had some moments of discouragement this morning upon waking up and realizing the likely next step in my life is one I hoped I would never have to face in my entire life, but why let that get in the way of me being grateful that His Spirit can be strong in me during these moments and that He has done an act of God on my physical brain?
This article isn’t going to be scientific. It also isn’t going to be something that my extremely well-educated psychologist disagrees with. There may not be a lot of research out there about what I am about to tell you, but neither of us would deny that what I am about to tell you is true and has been truly life-transforming.
I am a victim of trauma. It really did a number on my physical brain. I have often experienced disassociation and for much of my life, I would consider myself to have been an emotionally entirely dysfunctional person. During some of the most dysfunctional times in my life, I appeared the most put together on the outside. It wasn’t fun to have a brain that would often do things I literally couldn’t control. It had nothing to do with my lack of character, and everything to do with my traumatized brain. I would beat myself up for it and hate myself, but that really got me nowhere. It only worsened the situation. I would try to be tough and overcome situations by forcing myself to face them. This only made the problems even worse. I didn’t know how to fix my extremely wounded self.
Then I started to memorize the Bible. I didn’t do it on purpose. I never even did it to learn what the Bible said. (I had a decent amount of biblical knowledge, and I was pretty prideful about it for much of my life. I thought it somehow made me better or safe. Winning Bible trivia games was fun. But in the end knowing who Publius and Ehud are and the name of Mephibosheth’s son is unlikely to save me.)
I didn’t even memorize so I could remind myself of the truth throughout my day. I literally started memorizing because I heard a message where the pastor challenged his congregation to memorize a chapter in three weeks. I thought it sounded hard. I like hard things, so I tried it. I chose a short psalm. It was easy. I moved onto Romans. Romans is pretty cool. Knowing Romans has been life-transforming.
It is one thing to know a book of the Bible. It is another to realize somehow you seem to be psychologically dependent on reciting at least the first half of the book to yourself everyday as you walk the streets or in your time alone with Him. I find it humbling and a bit embarrassing. What am I addicted to a book of the Bible?
It didn’t stop there. It all started about a year and a half ago. He keeps having me memorize books and passages of the Bible. Some of them are easy. Some are hard. Knowing the truth of Scripture has entirely changed my life. It has definitely changed how I emotionally stand on His truth. Now I know what Jesus said about certain things. I also know He didn’t just say them but did them.
But the most transformative thing it has done for my brain has not even been the scriptural truth. Okay, maybe it has; but there is a really close tie. It has been healing my brain from trauma, teaching it to rewire and be able to handle things that it never could handle. I have exercised my brain with memorization and exercises my counselor has given me until I had headaches and fought all kinds of mental fatigue. I pushed through. Surely, I could work for one more half hour on this project today.
This past month has been one of the most glorious. Now only responsible for earning a minimal income (because I have never been a spender) and doing whatever else I want, I have had time to focus on memorizing the gospel of John. Sometimes I worked half the day and came home to memorize for several hours. Sometimes I was at home all day, focusing on memorizing for twelve-hour days and “resting” from the memorization by doing computer work or running errands. Because at least I can’t just memorize for twelve solid hours. Our brain is like our body and needs rests. I find it like running. You always go further, faster while running intervals.
There has been an amazing payout. I have had victories that I never knew were possible. I can now change my mind about something almost instantly. When a negative thought pattern comes in, I don’t have have to fight it for hours or days. Often I can put it away in a minute or two. My brain has been learning how to believe things it never believed before.
It has transformed my life as far as forgiveness is concerned. It has transformed my ability to handle conflicting emotions. This is what my brain could do most unwell in the past. It couldn’t handle things that it really loved or liked and was afraid of at the same time. It couldn’t handle places that reminded it of traumatic experiences but now appeared joyful. But it has started to handle these things really well. I just have the biggest grin on my face as I write this.
Memorizing and meditating on God’s Word really will renew your mind and, apparently, actually heal your brain.
I have been working on this for so long. It is nice to finally see such a big payout. It has not been easy work. I am not the laziest person I know. Sometimes knowing I need to summon the energy to force my brain to remember the story it is going to tell me over the next hour makes me want to cry. But this brain exercise has been the most incredibly life-transforming experience of my life.
I know it is because it was accompanied by my following Him. I never did it in pride or to escape facing life. I only ever did it to follow His call. It never made sense to me. It was weird. Some people really judged me. It made me feel bad and discouraged, but I clung to following Him.
He is faithful to complete the good work He began in me. It won’t always be acceptable in the opinions of those around me, but who needs people’s opinions?
Do you ever do things to follow God that make the people around you turn up their noses in scorn? Is Scripture memorization and meditation a part of your spiritual walk? Do you prioritize absorbing what He says over absorbing what the world is saying?