Calming the Circus Acts in My Mind
just a little something
to begin your week.
If you could have peered inside my mind the past couple of weeks, you would have thought you were viewing a circus. It felt like there were 15 acts going on inside my head at once. Can you relate to the feeling?
Much of this chaos had to do with the fact that I was awaiting an appointment with my oncologist for my nine-month cancer check-up. Overall, I have been feeling well but little aches and pains were causing fear to loom in my mind. I began to dread hearing the results from my blood work and ultrasound fearing that they would confirm my imaginations.
My nagging fears were further exacerbated when I heard the news that a friend who was diagnosed with cancer after me passed away. Grieving his death was more difficult for me than I expected and surfaced many raw emotions I needed to resolve relating to my own story.
The irony was not lost on me that during these last two weeks, I was also studying “The Steadfast Mind” in my Beth Moore Bible Study. A few days before my appointment, I read one of my favorite verses: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3). Beth took apart each phrase of the verse and explained the meanings in great depth.
The part I was most struck by was the word “steadfast.” She explained, “The original definition of the word steadfast…samak means ‘to sustain, to be braced, to lean upon.’ One part of the definition draws a wonderful word picture of the steadfast life in God: lay one’s hand on. When temptations and troubling thoughts come, the steadfast believer chooses to lay a firm hold on truth” (Breaking Free, pg 197).
I loved that thought and I knew there was so much more related to that subject for me to learn. Sitting in our bedroom on a cold afternoon, I spread out my Bible, journal, and computer on our bed where the sunlight flooded through the windows. I pulled up a concordance on my computer and looked up all of the Scripture references that related to the word steadfast. I noted that “Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD his God” (2 Chronicles 27:6). I read that David asked God to “create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). I was encouraged with reading so many references to be steadfast in heart and mind. To gain further understanding, I looked up the meaning of the word steadfast and read phrases like “fixed in place” and “firm in purpose.” I prayed that God would give me a fixed and firm mind as I faced my upcoming appointment.
On the day of my appointment as I sat in the waiting room for my ultrasound, I received an email from a friend reminding me she was praying for me. At the bottom of her email she wrote Isaiah 26:3. Tears welled up in my eyes as I read the words feeling as though yet again God was reminding me to hold onto His truth amidst a fear-inducing day.
Several hours later Jared and I were ushered back to an examination room to meet with my oncologist. The nurse told us they were running behind so we made ourselves comfortable and tried to find distractions to pass the time. With each tick of the clock, I began to feel more and more uneasy. What was taking so long? I wondered. Were they analyzing my test results to deliver bad news? I was trying hard to remind myself of truth and remain steadfast but reigning in my worried mind felt more challenging by the minute. I felt like I was living out what Joyce Meyer says in The Battlefield of the Mind, “Worry is the mind racing around trying to find a solution to its situation.”
I excused myself for the bathroom and once inside I took a deep breath. I prayed for God’s peace and right then Psalm 112:7 came to the forefront of my mind: “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” As the verse played through my mind, I realized the connection with what I had been learning in my Bible Study; it never occurred to me that both Isaiah 26:3 and Psalm 112:7 shared the common word “steadfast.”
As I pondered the verse, I realized that in Psalm 112:7 it didn’t say that bad news would not come. However, it said I didn’t need to fear the bad news because in spite of it, my heart could still steadfastly cling to and trust God’s promises and love. And with that comes perfect peace as I surrender to His plan.
I’d like to say that I was instantly at peace and skipped out of the bathroom without a care in the world. The truth is my heart was very heavy and I was fighting hard to keep my mind focused on who God was rather than my situation. But as I sat on the table waiting for my oncologist to see me, I kept repeating over and over “He will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in You.” Although I didn’t necessarily feel peaceful, I knew that keeping my mind focused on God’s truth helped me overcome the urge to imagine every worst case scenario.
After what felt like forever, my doctor entered the room and told us that everything on my ultrasound looked fine. As I breathed a huge sigh of relief, I was reminded all over again why God tells me in His Word to keep my mind steadfast and “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). When I engross myself in God’s truth and promises instead of scaring myself silly with fearful thoughts, God’s peace “guards my heart and mind” (Philippians 4:8). Fixating on all of the what-ifs is not only a waste of time but it steals my peace and energy. Beth Moore says it this way, “Many of our mammoth captors began as seeds in the thought life, but we watered and cultivated them by continued meditation until they grew the size of the Sequoias!” (203).
As I journaled today before writing this post, I was again reminded that the key in facing my fearful situations is trusting God’s heart. Do I trust He is my loving Father? Am I secure in His love for me? As I’ve written before, “Courage comes from a heart convinced it is loved.” I resolve to courageously replace the worries that often run through my mind with God’s truth and meditate on His promises until they plant themselves in my heart. As I do this, I believe my mind will feel more like peaceful waters than stormy seas…or circus acts, for goodness sakes.
A few Bible verses I am finding helpful to replace worries with truth in my mind:
- “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1).
- “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6).
- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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” (Philippians 4:6-8).
- “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2).
- “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV).