A Living Sacrifice: New Mind, Heart, and Life

Even though the Bible verses Romans 12:1-2 are commonly used in the body of Christ today, I can honestly say I didn’t fully understand these verses until last summer. That summer I was hit with anxiety like a wave, in a way I’ve never experienced before. I can recall reading a chapter in Luke at work and not being able to feel my legs, it even had me panicking as I walked to the subway.

Clearly something wasn’t right, why was I experiencing this and why now? For the first time I had come face to face with my life’s circumstances and I became more cognizant of how much I needed God and how deeply deprived I was without Him.

Romans 12:1-2 NIV

Day by day I meditated on God’s Word, and He revealed to me the contents of my heart. He showed me the way in which I allowed my emotions to lead me and influence my decisions. I journaled every day so I can hear His voice and revisit what He brought me through.

The way He has transformed my way of life since that summer is incredible considering I wasn’t always Christian, in fact, I gave my life to Christ six years ago. So although my story is a transformative one, I have the sense that God has always been there.

For example, I can recall lying in bed at ten years old (not knowing who Jesus was) and saying to myself “at least Jesus loves me” and feeling a peace come over me whenever I felt fear. Yet at that point in my life, I probably equated Him to Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, or another fictional character my family told us about.

Even with the contradicting stories and superstitions that my family believed in, they would take my sister and I to church periodically, and we didn’t know what a walk with Christ or a relationship with Him meant. The Christian lifestyle wasn’t modeled in our home, so I grew up living my life without knowing Jesus. I did what was right in my own eyes. Of course, I had some sense of morality but I didn’t feel convicted the way I do now.

I swore, I lied, I stole, I fornicated, and I’ve been inebriated, all under the guise of being a good girl. I did a lot of the things the world does, which is expected for someone who doesn’t know Jesus. Growing up I also faced a lot of trauma resulting in issues of unforgiveness, abandonment, etc., that I became very aware of as an adult after realizing how much it affected me.

On top of these realities, I subscribed to many false ideologies, so I was a heavy skeptic who didn’t like Christianity. I also questioned other religions, and believed a lot of the scholarly doctrine and deception I studied in college. Yet, there was still this emptiness in me. I felt a longing for something more and I didn’t quite know what that was at the time.

But, as my good friend says, change is not an event it’s a process. After I gave my life to Christ, it took some time before I was able to see the fruit of the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. The first year was rough. My mom suffered from an ischemic stroke that left her paralyzed and unable to speak and in hospice, and three years later my father died.

In year two, I was still dressing immodestly, dating unbelievers, using vulgar vocabulary, carrying negative thoughts on marriage, taking on jobs/careers for prosperity purposes and not seeking God’s will. Overall, I was still doing a lot of the things I wanted primarily because I was afraid of what my life would look like if I gave my life to Christ. It took some time to fully wrap my head around “offering my body as a living sacrifice” to God.

However, I was brought to my knees one day after a breakup that left me longing for answers, I decided to repent completely and live for God for real. I’ll never forget, it was during Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday when the Lord spoke to me from 2 Corinthians 12:9 which says,

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

If I had to pinpoint a time when I felt like God was rewiring my thought process, it was this very season. Looking back, I am thankful for the pain God brought me through because I grew stronger, I matured spiritually and flourished from it. Most importantly, God continues to write and use my story. Once I devoted my life to purity, living a life pleasing to God and knowing Christ deeply through His unfailing Word and love, my entire world shifted and blessings began to pour out.

All of a sudden I loved and cherished God so much that I became reluctant to participate in things that were ungodly. If you love the concept of neuroplasticity as much as I do then it’ll paint a clear picture of what this process was like.

Neuroplasticity is “the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.” I am an entirely new creation in Christ Jesus. My identity shifted. Now I understand that my value is in Christ and no one else. I no longer feel inadequate or the need to impress others. I can confidently and faithfully say that God’s Word redeemed, transformed and renewed my mind! Praise God! There’s hope in Him.

However, the story doesn’t end there. There’s still a lot the Lord has done and is doing in me. I know now that the more I spend time with God, meditate on His Word, speak to Him and allow Him to speak back, the stronger I will become, and the more those neural pathways will be reorganized. If there’s anything I learned on my journey so far is how powerful prayer is and the role it plays in renewing your mind.

It’s not surprising that Paul mentions, not conforming to the patterns of the world and  being transformed by the renewing of your mind before he says “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” I say this because I didn’t truly seek God to know what my spiritual gifts are and how I can be used by Him until I went through the storm/storms that I went through last year and prior that I realized how much I needed Him.

Since then, I’ve committed myself to a community of Christians, to serving Him and trusting Him. My friend, our steps are ordered. God has a good and perfect will for each of us, and on this journey He has to bring us through good and tough times to prune us, to help us grow and renew our thinking in order to keep us on the path of where He wants us to be. He will reveal His will to you, but be willing to transform your thinking. It’s so important for your mental health.

Remember that therapy is good too! I’ve done it before and have benefited from it, as God used it to transform my thinking. I’m sure you will benefit as your thinking is transformed too. Seek God on where He may be leading you for healing.

So many people face anxiety in our world today, for those of you who do, I pray the Lord brings you peace and comfort. May you also rest in His strength, we’re all broken and He knows this. He wants us to know Him.

God bless you!

Follow Vanessa’s blog website
Living With Grace

Success! You're on the list.

5 replies »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.