Have you noticed that once you decide to purchase a new or “new to you” vehicle that once you select the make, model, and color that instantly you begin noticing several vehicles on the road that are exactly like the one you just purchased? Before making the purchase, you may not have noticed any other vehicles just like yours. However, once you consider and contemplate the choice, your brain is that much more aware of other times that you see the same thing throughout your day.
What we allow our thoughts to dwell on becomes what we recognize more often. This is the psychological concept of “frequency illusion.” Once you consider something specifically, this item or object begins to hold value to you. The “frequency illusion” actually rewires our brains. Let me pause for a second, so we can take that in. Our brain literally rewires itself to pay attention to what we contemplate or consider.
The same can be true of other things that we focus on in life. When we intentionally focus on the things that we want to cultivate in our lives, we can rewire our brains to notice those things more clearly.
God’s Intentional Design
Rewiring our brains isn’t a newly discovered concept though. God rewired Paul’s brain 2,000 years ago. In the New Testament, we meet Saul/Paul:
- Pharisee: a teacher of the Jewish law
- harsh critic and deadly seeker of early church Christians
- deeply convicted by his Jewish roots, he sought to destroy as many Christians as possible. All because he believed they were heretics (people who falsely believed and taught others about God.)
Fast forward down the road to Damascus, Jesus transformed Saul’s life: from a despiser of Jesus to a devout defender of the gospel (salvation through Jesus alone). God also changed Saul’s name to Paul- similar to Abraham and Israel, God gave Paul a new name to match his God-given destiny.
Jesus literally rewired Paul’s brain to change him from being a persecutor of Christians to a powerful preacher of the gospel. He writes in a letter to Christian followers at the Church of Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Even though Paul spent many of his years as a Christian in prison for His new belief in Jesus, He still found ways to always find joy, pray continually, and give thanks to God. Even in a prison cell…
The context of being in prison while he writes these words causes me to pause and consider how we can ask the Lord to rewire our brains to pause, consider, and embrace this mindset in our challenging seasons, too.
- What if we asked the Lord to transform our thought life to recognize the ways we can find joy always, in every situation and season? Sometimes it’s hard to find joy in one part of our day let alone in all parts of our day.
- What if we stayed in close communication with the Lord, so that all throughout our days, our souls prayed to Him? Sometimes we begin our days with the Lord, but then try to carry out the rest of the day in our own strength and wisdom.
- What if we gave thanks in ALL situations and not just the ones that are pleasant? Thankfulness is easy to appreciate when things are going in our favor, but so simple when things aren’t going as we hoped.
If we embraced this mindset, what would be different about our daily lives? I wonder, friend, how are you finding joy in the middle of your hard seasons? For me, I am working through a back injury that is causing nerve pain and numbness through my leg and foot. I don’t understand why I am walking this path right now, but:
- I’m finding joy from the ways others are showing kindness to me and helping me with tasks I would normally complete on my own.
- I’m staying in close communication with the Lord in prayer, because sometimes the pain is almost unbearable, and I need His strength to press on.
- I’m thankful for the care I am receiving and the people who God has placed on my path to help me figure out what is wrong and how I can recover.
I wouldn’t ask for this pain, but I also am thankful for the ways God is growing a heart of compassion within me for others who have chronic pain through this experience.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances: more than just words on a page-this is a way of life. Friend, I pray that the Lord will rewire our brains to live way, too.
Please help us carve out moments throughout this Thanksgiving week to pause to find joy, pray continually, and give You thanks. Even in the hard parts of our stories, please rewire our thinking to match Your heavenly mindset. Thank you for redeeming and restoring even the hardest parts of our stories.
In Jesus’ name,
1 thought on “Gratitude Rewires Our Brains Blogpost #38”
This affirms why “what we stare at, we steer to”. 🙏
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