Leadership weekend, as our pastor was teaching, he began to speak about mental maps. What, you might ask, is a mental map? The best way I can explain what I understood is this… We have beliefs deeply embedded in us that we don’t even know are there. First we have public beliefs, what others think we believe about something. Next we have private beliefs, and those are what we really believe we believe about something, or our true intention toward something, but they are usually wrong. An example might be, I really believe I want to be on time and when I say I will, I mean it. Then we have mental maps, these maps are what we really will do when push comes to shove. An example to follow the first one is, I want to be on time, I plan to be on time, I intend to be on time, then I am late. They are patterns that we have followed throughout our lives that are deeply woven into the fabric of our being, they come from familial lines, thought processes, sin in the world, and God.
As I was talking to the Holy Spirit about these mental maps, he brought back a picture a life coach of mine gave me: Some people went through a cornfield to buy a couch for their home from an estate sale on the other side of the field. They paid for the couch but didn’t take it home just then, so they hoofed their way back to their home through the same path in the cornfield. When it was time to pick up the couch, they went back through that field, following the same path because, of course, that was easiest route. As they returned with their couch, the path was made out for them to easily carry it back the way they came. For me, this is a picture of how we create patterns in our every day lives. The way I wake up, or get ready for the day, or get my coffee, every day patterns that I really don’t ever think about. The same is true for sin in my life, areas that I don’t want to keep making the same choices because they hurt me, but I do. My intention is to be free from these patterns, but I keep following them, many times without a thought of how I got there! That’s what I understand are our mental maps.
As I drove to work on Monday I was thinking about the cornfield and things that I am training my body to do differently right now. As I drove along and prayed about where I was in the cornfield, I saw a picture in my head of God doing something new, so I watched. The cornfield turned into wax, dark, gray, and huge. My first thought was that it was a lot easier to make a path in a cornfield! Then I saw something really large barreling a new path through the wax field, much like a tiller machine on a farm only more massive. It barreled through and created a path that I could travel and then the path was lined and covered in gold like a tunnel with nothing above it. Then I saw a bright sun and the wax began to melt and it filled in the old paths that weren’t protected in gold, those paths were the only ones that wee accessible any longer. It was beautiful really, how this picture came into my mind, and I immediately started crying.
The picture that I got represented so much of what God is doing in my life right now. The depth of what He was showing me has to be profound because, you know, He is God. That being said, the first thing that I felt when I saw it was pure joy. I’ve not paid attention to what I “see” in my head very much, I actually didn’t realize it might be God showing me His profound thoughts! Just a few short years ago, I thought the conversations I had in the morning mirror were with myself, I had no clue I was talking to Jesus! My ears and eyes were slightly opened in 2013 as I sat with two ladies at Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating Retreat in Colorado, one of them got my eyes during prayer and said, “Jesus loves to laugh with you”. That was it, I knew right then and there that I was talking to the Spirit that lives within me! Since that time, I have been on a path to hearing Him more and sharing my life with Him. The pictures I see are things He is showing me about Himself and His true heart toward me, toward everyone!
I remember a sermon I heard one morning from Steven Furtick (he is one of my favorite teachers to listen to but hubby doesn’t care for the way he gets so excited and starts to hollar…I love his passion for Jesus!), it was a teaching on patterns and how we can get stuck doing the same thing over and over when we really do not want to and our private belief is that we won’t do it again…and then I do the “it” again! This picture gave me hope of Christ making new patterns in my life, ie; detoxifying. I’ve done pretty good this time and I believe I will make it to the end but my flesh is so weak! It takes me back to Romans 7 & 8 where Paul talks about wanting to do good, the Spirit within him longing to do good, and then he does bad. There is a renewing of my mind going on that I don’t even understand. I see me desiring the stuff that is good for me over the things I used to really enjoy that were not. An example might be that three years ago the only lettuce I would eat was iceberg. I know many people think it is gross, but I grew up on it and it wasn’t a dark green leaf that looked like the trees in my yard so I liked it. I made an agreement with God to try all foods again, unless of course I had a vomit story for it, because at that time I ate like a twelve year old. It has taken some time, but I have tried all kinds of lettuce now and I really enjoy Romaine the very most, but I wouldn’t even put it in my mouth back then. I see how God is renewing the way I think and I will tell you there has been a lot of repenting going on from my side. I realized that it doesn’t hurt as much as I thought it would to change my mind about things, humble myself and admit I was wrong. It has been a process, but each time I repent, it gets easier, however I doubt it will ever be easy! My process will continue today and tomorrow and as long as I am here, I really am starting to get what freedom looks like and I want to taste it fully. I trudge on, daily renewing my thoughts with the Bible each morning and talking to Jesus throughout my day. The only truth I know is what Jesus has taught us, and that is what it looks like to love… and that includes loving myself!
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” Romans 12:9 NLT