Since I was very young, I’ve loved to study the Bible. As an adult, I’ve only become more fascinated with the Word–especially in its historical, social, linguistic, and cultural contexts. Hands down, the book of Romans is my fave book of the New Testament. Paul really breaks down salvation so it remains forever and consistently “broke.” In Romans 12:2 he gets on this point of “being transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
I like the New Living Translation best:
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Romans 12:2 NLT
In essence, Paul is saying that in order to live your best life, you gotta “get your mind right.” We cannot live the life God intends for us when our minds are stuck on the hamster wheel of “what if” worries, and stuffed with useless, often false information that we take in from various forms of media all day.
As a women’s health physician and surgeon, I have noticed an alarming increase in the number of people with depression and/or anxiety over the past 5-7 years. It’s at pandemic proportions! I am convinced that the excess of media in all forms is a huge contributor to this phenomenon. We are living in the “Information Age,” where information of all sorts is at our fingertips, and notifications buzz, vibrate and ring all day to alert us of new information available. We are constantly in information overload. Have you ever noticed how a lot of the information we take in has a negative connotation?
Bearing witness to so many women, especially pregnant women, who are suffering in their MINDS prompted me to really start looking at that phrase “renewing your mind.”
I have become convinced that anxiety, depression, stress, and insomnia are likely the most dangerous family of symptoms affecting my patient population. Last September, I started a Fellowship (extra training for practicing doctors in a particular area related to their field) in Transformational Health Leadership. It’s a National fellowship sponsored by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The idea was to learn how to develop and implement Quality Improvement in my clinic and hospital settings. Given my concern for the mental health of my patients, I chose to focus on improving the quality of care in mental health services for pregnant women in our clinic. My project is simple: screening more for anxiety and depression during and immediately after pregnancy and offering counseling resources and medical treatment to women who screen positive.
Renewing your mind takes work.
We often don’t even realize how much we are focused on negative things that have happened to us (trauma) and the negative things that MIGHT happen to us (worry). Somehow, when we get stuck replaying our “woes and what ifs,” we easily forget what God says. We forget that the finished work of the cross declares us victorious; that we have the mind and power of Christ; that God did not give us the Spirit of fear, but of power, love and a SOUND MIND. We forget that God sustained us through our past, and he will sustain us in our future–whatever comes! We have to do the work of reminding ourselves who God is, and therefore who we are. When we remember that every promise is tested and every word God has shared with us is true, we slowly begin to pull our minds out of the rotation of anxious and hopeless thoughts.
Renewing our minds is the most important thing we can do for the sake of our lives and our family’s lives. Recognize now that the enemy is not after your “stuff” he is not too concerned with your kids, your job, your marriage, your house or your car– the enemy is after your mind!!! If he keeps you wallowing in anxiety and hopelessness, YOU WILL GIVE AWAY all your “stuff!” You will not see or understand God’s intention and provision for an abundant, fruitful life. You will believe the lies that you aren’t enough, that you simply can’t make it, that nothing but negative will befall you… you will just give up and allow your adversary to steal, kill, and destroy your relationships, your health, your family, your career, and your finances at will.
The work of renewing our minds is difficult. First, we must admit that there is a problem. One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been doing more screening for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders is that many women have been in denial–it’s the hormones, or the other kids, or my job or my partner’s short comings. When I begin to probe those ladies with positive depression/anxiety screens, almost immediately there are tears. Some flow from a place of embarrassment, but most from a place of release–an admission that they are just “not ok right now.”
Once we have made an admission, it creates space for help from the Holy Spirit, counselors, and/or medications, and it opens our minds to the possibility that life can be better if we decide to take our thoughts captive and allow God to renew our minds.
After just a few weeks of seeing such a need for better mental healthcare for pregnant women, I decided that the Transformational Health Leaders Fellowship was not enough training for me. I decided to pursue a special certification in Perinatal Mental Health so I can do a better job for my patients. I’ve learned so much going to trainings and listening to the stories of women. I am so glad I was led to this project by the Holy Spirit.
We are all now seeing the impact of our country’s poor investment in maternal physical and mental healthcare systems. It’s showing up in our maternal death rates, but also in our divorce/separation rates, our rates of reported behavioral disturbances in schools, our rates of lost productivity in the workplace, our rates or poor school performance and reading levels, etc. The list goes on an on. Healthy women– women who are fit physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually–are the key to a healthy society, and I believe wellness STARTS in the MIND.
Let’s change the way we think, ladies. Then we will change our world.