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New Year - Old Ways

It is a New Year! But what does that really mean? Well, it may or may not mean much depending on what you are thinking.  If you are thinking new year, same issues, just different date, then it probably doesn’t mean much. If you are thinking that it means a fresh start, new resolutions, plans, hopes and dreams then it may mean significantly more.

 I personally love the start of a new year! I mean who doesn’t love to write down new goals (probably a bunch of you 😊). The new year does hold fresh opportunities but only if we approach them the right way.

Let me explain what I mean about approaching this the right way. I want to explain what happens in a part of our brain that “frames” all our experiences for us. That part of the brain is referred to as our emotional center and it includes the hippocampus and the amygdala. The hippocampus can be thought of like the details of our experiences, the black and white film reel of life’s encounters. The amygdala is like the colored version. It remembers why you liked an experience, or why you did not like an experience. It is part of your stored memory. It is there forever. That is why certain experiences trigger emotions. Sometimes you don’t even know where they came from. 

Let’s think about something that might have happened in the past. What if your spouse lied to you about something and when you found out you were hurt and angry. Even if your spouse asks for forgiveness and you extend it, your brain remembers the incident. Since it is tied to a strong emotion, that part of the brain has stored that “memory or incident”.  The next time, you “suspect” your spouse might have lied (even if they did not), your stored memory may trigger that emotion (hurt, anger) because there may be pieces of what is happening currently that remind your brain of the previous incident.


"We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."


The challenge is when we want to start a new way, pattern, or plan we must acknowledge that our brain is still holding all the old patterns, memories, and behaviors. We may want to respond differently; we may not want to “think” the worse of our spouse, but we must acknowledge the battle.  We must be cognizant that new responses, habits, and behaviors will only become entrenched with consistent application.  We must not expect that doing something (or thinking differently) just a few times will make it the new norm.

But don’t lose heart, know that new patterns can become ingrained but will take time and intentionally. We can replace, restore and re-wire some of our brain response but it will not happen without practicing our new patterns, over and over. The brain will want to go back to what is stored, what has been reinforced. But don’t let it. Remember what God tells us in His word.

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 

(2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV)

Let’s ask God to give us grace and strength to day by day replace and make new patterns of thought and behavior.


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