Last week we explored the brain science that teaches us: 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. My hunch is that you may have the same question that I had when I first started exploring this concept: how do we begin rewiring our family’s culture to see the world through grateful eyes?
Our human nature is to complain about all of the things that are wrong instead of noticing all of the things that are right. In a culture that seems to thrive on ranting, how can we grow a family culture that is shaped by thankfulness instead?
To help our children find joy and give thanks in all circumstances, this transformation starts right here with us as parents. If we want to raise children who see their everyday lives with grateful eyes, they have to experience what it looks like to authentically live that way. Learning how to be intentional to search for the good in all things.
Now before you think this type of thinking is teaching our children to think more like “Susie Sunshine” or to put on their “rose colored glasses,” this isn’t an “ignorance is bliss” or “stick our heads in the sand” kind of thinking. I find it fascinating that we have so many figures of speech when it comes to seeing our situations through positive eyes instead of looking for the negative things. In reality, rewiring our brains to be grateful is a way to see the world through a heavenly mindset. When “pre-decide” to be thankful, we begin to see our daily interactions with others differently.
One of my college professors used to call this type of reflective thinking: looking for “God sightings.” Every class he would open up with a discussion asking what “God sightings” had we noticed today? Before you think this professor must have lived a life without challenge to have such a lofty mindset, I would also add this same professor dealt with debilitating health challenges that forced him to use a cane as he taught and caused him to hobble as he walked into class each day. He had many reasons to focus on the hard parts of his journey, but instead he intentionally lived out his days with eyes wide open to how God was moving in his daily interactions.
In this season as I learn how to manage months of back and nerve pain, his testimony reminds me that I can do the same in this season: intentionally look for “God sightings.” Although I am hurting physically, the Lord is showing me how He is intentionally working in my life with each painful step that I take.
To live like this, we begin intentionally looking for “God sightings,” evidence of God’s movement in our everyday circumstances. We look through the lens of God’s goodness as we move throughout our days. We ask ourselves “how is the Lord using both the good and hard parts of our stories to bless others?”
Pastor Craig Groeschel, author of Winning the War in Your Mind shared an excellent illustration that continues to roll around in my mind, molding my perspective to see beyond the here and now. To see the bigger picture that our current situation may not feel good, but it’s for our good. Craig shared that we can all look at the same afternoon sky, but based on where we choose to focus determines our perspective of what we see. Check out this picture below:
When you look at this picture, Craig encourages us to consider: which part of the picture are your eyes instantly drawn to?
- Do we choose to zoom in on the storm clouds below?
- Do we notice the beauty in the coming rays of sunshine?
What we choose to focus on becomes the narrative we tell ourselves. Craig explained this process a step further through sharing the brain science that proves that the thoughts we think right now impact the decisions we make two years from now. Our thoughts guide the actions we take. Our thoughts are powerful!
Psychologists call this process of intentionally changing our mindset as rewiring our brains. Over 2,000 years ago, God called this process renewing our minds. Before modern science had it all ” figured out,” God designed our brains from the beginning of creation to be renewed and transformed. He didn’t want us to be stuck in a pattern of spiraling thoughts that leave us discouraged, distressed, and depressed. Remember Paul from the last blogpost? He wrote another letter to the Christians in Rome, and shared these truths:
Romans 12:2 NIV “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Do we want to live out this transformed mindset? To no longer be conformed to the pattern of this world filled with stress, anxiety, sadness, and depression? Craig says that we have to see these challenges for what they are: a daily battle field inside our minds. This renewed and rewired thinking all starts with the thoughts we think and what we choose to dwell on. What we allow our minds to constantly think, shapes what we observe or ignore. If we seek to observe at each moment of our days by searching for God’s movement in our midst, we will continue to see God more and more throughout our days.
When we determine in our souls that we are going to search for “God sightings”, we begin to see our daily lives differently. His presence makes our lives make more sense. God doesn’t want our brains to be loaded down with negativity and only see the hard parts of our journeys. He wants to transform us to gain a more heavenly perspective: full of joy, connected with Him, and full of thanks. The Lord wants to give us a glimpse of how He is working in our daily lives to share a taste of how incredible it will be when we get to live in Heaven with Him. This type of intentional reflection also allows us to model for our children how to spot God moving in their daily lives, too. That’s our hope for our children, right? To see how the God of our Bible is still present in every season, moving in our midst, and changing our lives in the process.
Reader, I would love to read what’s your “God sighting” today? How is He showing you how to find joy, stay connected to Him, and cultivating a heart of thanksgiving? How are your children beginning to catch this mindset of looking through their experiences as opportunities to spot “God sightings?” Let’s pre-decide today to look for God moving in our lives and to have a heart ready to be grateful for His presence and provision in each moment.
We pray for our friends who are walking through challenging situations. Finding joy can seem almost impossible sometimes. Please rewire our brains to notice tiny glimmers of joy. Help us to see how you are working all things, even the hard parts in our lives, for our good and Your glory. Help us stay connected to you throughout our days, so that You can cultivate a heart of thanksgiving inside of us. Thank you for not leaving us stuck in spiraling thoughts. Thank you that you created our minds to be rewired. Please help us show our children how they can live with renewed minds, too.
In Jesus’ name,
Winning the War in Your Mind by Craig Groeschel and link to podcast with Craig and Lysa Terkeurst from Proverbs 31 Ministries Podcast July 21, 2021