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Rumination

Have you ever watched a cow chew the cud and seen how it's jaw just goes around again and again and again? It chews the grass, swallows it, (and this is where it gets a bit gross if you don't know sorrynotsorry), spits it back up in its mouth, chews it some more, swallows it again, throws it back up again, chews again, swallows it some more. And they do this over and over and this is what it means to ruminate on something.


The average person has 60,000 thoughts every day. According to Standford University, 90% of those are repetitive.


90%!


90% of them are thoughts you are regurgitating and bringing back up. You’re ruminating on a big ole chunk of your thoughts every day.


Research by Watkins and Roberts in 2020 has shown that rumination is a key factor in maintaining depression. The longer you ruminate on the negative, the longer you stay stuck as it intensifies and prolongs the undesired emotions and feelings strengthening those neural pathways (your neural pathway is where the thoughts travel in your brain) the longer it does that, the more it makes that negative neural activity more established.


What the research is saying is that the more you chew on painful thoughts or memories whether those in the past, or imagining future ones through worry and anxiety, the easier it is going to be for your brain to bring those negative narratives and thought-patterns to mind. You will trap yourself in an eternal cycle of bringing up the worst case scenarios and never being able to swallow, digest, and get rid of the problem. You’ll just keep regurgitating it.


Friends, we need to stop putting in garbage and chewing on it, and bringing it back up. We need to limit exposure to negative narratives and toxic thinking. We need to limit exposure to voices or habits that are speaking lies or pointing us towards choices that are not life giving because that is not honouring and loving God with our minds.


We need to ensure that we are not ruminating on those negative thoughts that we all have because the mind-body connection means there will be very real physical consequences if you live in a constant state of anxiety, worry, anger, frustration, bitterness... So how do we do that?


Taking Thoughts Captive

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 gives a clue in that we’re to take captive our thoughts and make them obedient to Christ. Sounds great. Loving God with all our minds means taking thoughts captive. But how do we do that?


Paul helps us out with his letter to the church in Philippi. It’s been labelled by some commentators as the mental health letter.


Want to know how to love God with your mind? How to avoid putting garbage in? How to be transformed by the renewal of your mind and take those 80% of pesky negative thoughts captive?


This is how:

“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. [And this is the practical bit, this is the how] 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 NIV.


When you get this right, your minds, your nóema, the result of your thinking will be guarded by the peace of God. Your thoughts and the output of those thoughts in your life will be peace-filled.


Because the battle for our minds is one that can either lead to peace or conflict – either within ourselves, or with others. And nobody wants that.


Paul is telling us here that if we love God with all our minds then the God of peace will be with us.


More on how we love the Lord with all our minds coming in future posts. . .!




If you're needing help in this area, reach out, and get in touch. I'd love nothing more than to come alongside you and help you love the Lord with all your mind.


Em 💛

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