**this is an ongoing series here at Carry on my heart, you can read the first part here.
“…be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2 NASB
Have you ever watched a butterfly emerge out of its chrysalis? It is truly fascinating because it is an entirely different creature than when it went in. I love watching them gingerly ease out of their transformation station and flex those new, beautiful wings. It takes some time, of course, for them to get used to those wings, but when they do – they fly – and they’re stunning.
We Are New
If you believe in Jesus Christ as your savior, you’re a lot like that butterfly.
You. Are. New.
All of your junk from the past is gone the minute you believe in Jesus. Every last bit of our sin-filled past was nailed to a cross roughly 2,000 years ago.
However, there does remain the fact that we still live here in the in-between. We are left with our humanity, our habits, and our struggles.
Transformation Takes Time
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition…Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” Philippians 4:6 & 8 (condensed)
All of Philippians 4 is amazing. You should read it – seriously.
The aforementioned scripture is quoted time and again when cautioning a believer as to where they should set their mind. This scripture is necessary and powerful, however, when you struggle with anxiety and depression it can feel condemning rather than comforting.
Obviously, it’s not meant to be that way. As with other scriptures, I think we miss the point a little when we just look at this verse all alone.
So, come on down with me to the next couple of verses.
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you… I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” Philippians 4:9 & (Partial)12
Did Paul miraculously know all he needed about the Christian life once he met God on the Damascus road?
*spoiler alert – no.
He learned and he practiced.
He learned how to be content in any and every situation.
I think this very real, logical point often gets missed in the Christian walk. I especially think of those of us who deal with anxiety and/or depression. Not only do we have brains that are wired to worry, we tend to feel guilty about the anxiety we feel.
For a very long time, I would read Philippians 4:6-8 in the completely wrong context. I was sure God wasn’t pleased with me when I had a particularly anxious day.
Transformation Takes Kindness
Before I say anything else, let me point out something specific in God’s character;
…But you are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness…” Nehemiah 9:17 (partial)
He is abundant in kindness.
I think my wrong view of these scriptures was really a distorted view of who He is. I focused on the wrong thing – anxiety has a way of doing this though. When I switched my focus to His kindness I realized that He is a teacher, not a harsh task-master.
The whole point of these verses in chapter 4 isn’t perfection, it’s practice.
When we put into practice what we have learned, we are transforming our minds just as Romans 12:2 says. We do it one verse, one thought, one choice at a time.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
I used to read these scriptures and think “Yeah, thanks, Paul, you didn’t have anxiety and depression, easy for you to say.”
Out of God’s kindness, I heard in my spirit, “How do you know?”
Ouch – good point.
I don’t know what Paul dealt with or any other Christian for that matter. So, who am I to scoff at this plain and simple advice. No matter what we are dealing with today this is the formula;
Whatever you have learned, received or heard… put into practice.
(*insert here what you are struggling with today…)
Pray. Learn. Practice.
Is it easy and a quick fix?
Pretty sure you already know it’s not.
But as I tell my kids – nothing worth having ever is.
Transformation Takes Power
It’s time we believe in the power of what He has done and renew our minds through His promises.
Perhaps you need to ask the question I asked myself several years ago. “If I trusted Jesus to save my soul then why aren’t I trusting Him with;”
(*you know the drill…)
As I found out, through much trial and error, when our belief system changes, we change.
Afterall, freedom begins with believing you are already free.
Don’t forget that He is a kind and patient God that understands our frailty, this means we have room to learn. We will trip, we will fall and we will make mistakes. You know what else I love about this group of verses? In verse 9 He says put it into practice and the God of peace will be with you. His peace is already with us in the practicing, not once we have perfected it.
Practice turning your gaze upward. He did the hard work and paid the price. He said, “It is finished,” and then He sat down.
Because of this, we can practice renewing our minds and see the transformation He intends. So let’s spread those beautiful wings and fly!
Stick with me through my personal journey of having walked through life with anxiety and depression and where I am today because of God’s grace and faithfulness!