Did you know that God can rewrite the negative tapes that play in your mind? He has godly messages for you to think on, leading to grace-centered hope and change for your life. This article by biblical counselor Lucy Ann Moll appeared first here on her website.
Isn’t it encouraging that God can rewrite your old, negative tapes that play in your head, tempting you to feel bad and act out?
These tapes, these words you repeat to yourself, may have a tidbit of truth but a half-truth is a lie.
An example: You may repeat to yourself that you’re a mess-up and lack value. It’s true you may mistakes–we all do–but your mistakes do not define you. To God, you have worth. (Ephesians 1:4-5)
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19, ESV
The Tapes Often Start in Childhood
Old destructive tapes often begin in childhood. Some unkind dads say or insinuate that their kids are failures or unwanted. Did your dad make unwelcome comments about your looks or intelligence?
Moms, other relatives, and teachers may also speak hate into your life. Was your mom often preoccupied or highly critical? Did a teacher make fun of you in front of your class? Their words cut, didn’t they? God encourages us to act lovingly from a heart submitted to Christ.
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,
‘Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.’ 1 Peter 3:9-11, NIV
Diana was the fourth of six kids, and her dad worked as a salesman, living at home on weekends only. All day on Saturdays and Sundays, he turned on the television to watch ballgames and sitcoms. If Diana quietly sat on his lap, he’d give her a hug. Otherwise, his silence and scowl gave the message “leave me alone.” In her teens, she looked for attention from high school boys and got it as long as she had sex with them.
She said her destructive old tapes repeated, “You’re a mistake” and “You get love when you give guys what they want.” Her heart’s desire: acceptance and approval.
Sometimes destructive, old tapes are made after childhood. Leah married a man who sliced and diced her with words beginning on their honeymoon. Day after day he calls her stupid and ugly. He controls their finances and isolates her from her family. Even her loving childhood cannot balance his vitriol. She has come to question her value.
The Bible sings a love song to the heart of the hurting:
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139:17-18, NIV
Overcoming the Discouragement of Old Tapes
God loves you so much he wants to rewrite the tapes from childhood and end the sinful habits they tempt you to repeat. You may have tried to overcome your sinful habits–whether worry,bitterness, or self-pity–through prayer, Bible study, talking with trustworthy friends, and even counseling. Still, they may plague you.
These sinful habits have lodged in your heart. From the heart flows our thoughts (Proverbs 4:23).
You may be tempted to give up on changing them. As a Christ-follower, you know God wants your to think thoughts pleasing to him. Doesn’t Philippians 4:8 say. . .?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
There is hope!
Rewriting Old Tapes Is a Process
You can rewrite the old tapes that began in childhood. This won’t happen overnight; it’s a process. As you replace lies you believe with God’s truth–wonderful changes ensue:
- Your thought patterns improve.
- Your beliefs line up with the Word of God.
- You begin to desire what God desires–that his will be done.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4, NIV
Most important, your life glorifies God. Isn’t this the real reason God created us?
As you meditate on scripture, you create new tapes, encouraging and godly and life-giving tapes. These new tapes replace the old ones. and your thoughts, emotions, and actions follow suit. Your heart is revived!
“Heart” is the biblical term for your beliefs and motivations from which your thoughts, emotions, and actions flow. When the Bible speaks of the heart, it is almost exclusively refers to the inner workings of the soul and mind. It is the immaterial part of your being.
At first change may seem slow. As you continue to internalize the God’s truths, the greater and faster these changes will be!
Look up the Bible verses listed below. Memorize them one at a time and meditate on them.
Some of my counselees like to write them on index cards or sticky notes and place them on their car dashboard or bathroom mirror to reread them often. Others like to “draw” the verses by sketching the words.
Soon you’ll have new tapes because your mind cannot have both sinful and righteous thoughts at the same time. Tell me how it goes.