Some Bible passages need to be lived out to be understood. And I just experienced this with Romans 12:2…
“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 12:2
I always had trouble understanding this particular passage. I scratched my head, re-read it slowly trying to dissect each word and decipher its meaning.
And still I knew I was missing it.
What on earth did renewing the mind mean?
How does this even happen?
And do I even want that?
Leave it to the military to transform your mind!
As many of you know, I am a new military wife, and this is a life I have fought passionately against… and occasionally, like a crazed schizophrenic, passionately for.
From overwhelming fear, to powerful faith, trust, anger, contentment… I have been on an emotional rollercoaster that has left me severely motion-sick.
And lately, I just couldn’t take it anymore… and I let go.
I gave up.
I loosened my grip. No more fighting. No more attachment.
And I slipped into a deep, dark place. I let fear overtake me in such a way that I resorted to self-protection and apathy. I started to live my life in self-reliance, self-preservation, and self-defense.
I made plans of my own that weren’t beneficial for my marriage, all under the guise of “doing the right thing for my children”.
The one thing I didn’t bring into my new plans? GOD.
I had no idea how far fear can separate me from God and make me self-dependent, and that is a very scary place to be.
My breaking point came when we went to visit my husband after he finished Basic Military Training (aka Boot Camp) in Texas.
I knew my attitudes and my emotions wouldn’t be any help to my husband during this testing time, and the precious little time we had with him would be wasted if I spent it all pouting and being venomous.
But it was hard to hide the anger and the fear.
I cried out to God, “Daddy! Help me. I don’t want to be this way. I don’t want to feel this way. I ask you, please, change my mind. Please change my heart… renew it…
…I give up being proud and making plans of my own. I want to see what you see, I want to trust what you have in store. Just, please, change my heart.”
For the next two days, I fought an exhausting spiritual battle, waging war against my feelings and my emotions. I fought hard to draw near to God, to take captive all my thoughts and make them obey Christ.
It hurt deeply to lay down my own plans of self-preservation and to open up the possibility that this was indeed a good thing; that my family, and my marriage can, and will survive if I choose God’s plan. Even when I can’t see it. Even when it just doesn’t make sense.
Upon my return to Indiana, I had undergone a tremendous transformation.
Nothing short of a miracle.
Not only had I relinquished all control over my plans to God, I returned refreshed, restored, and powerfully hopeful. I had renewed unconditional love for my husband.
I was, for the first time, OK. Actually, I was more than OK. I was sort of excited about being a military spouse. That my friend, was and is the hand of God because my best friend Jamie would tell ya, a week earlier that would’ve been impossible!
So, what really happened during those days in Texas? I believe I truly experienced Romans 12:2; I was transformed, literally, by the renewal of my mind.
I have been pondering on how God brought about that transformation, and here is what I discovered:
It is OK to Be Weak.
“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
My friend, if you are anything like me, you tend to be even harder on yourself when you’re already down.
When I realize I am struggling, I struggle even more believing, “a strong Christian woman wouldn’t deal with this.” Or, “I am such an awful, unsupportive burden to my family.”
But what I need to realize in those times is that it is OK to struggle. It is OK to hurt. These are part of the human experience. It is however, NOT OK to stay there. And furthermore, it is not OK to act on those weaknesses.
In the end, being weak can be a good thing. I have found that in the midst of my darkest trials, I experience my deepest, closest relationship with GOD. I am so violently shaken that all the un necessaries fall off, and what is truly needed remains.
When you realize and accept that you are not all powerful, you can seek out the guy who is all powerful.
Our Father knows our failure. It doesn’t catch HIM by surprise. In HIS infinite love, He gives us room to freak out, to cry, to struggle, to break down, and to run back to Him when we are done, knowing that there are the strongest pair of arms waiting to hold us and love us and help us stand again.
Being aware that it was OK to be weak, that I was OK, safe and secure at the same time, allowed me to move on and draw closer my Father, and the transformation of my mind.
The enemy knows this, and that’s why he wants us in isolation and shame. Once we humble ourselves before God, become aware and embrace our shortcomings, and run toward His rescue, we can begin our healing.
Run to Jesus Like a Mad Woman.
If you could’ve heard the conversations inside my head during those first days back with my husband, you would have had me committed, for real.
I would go from freaking out, crying, pleading, screaming, being angry, becoming passive, resting in Jesus, in a matter of minutes, only to start it all over again. You may say I was losing my mind… and I was!
Undergoing a complete transformation by the renewal of the mind is drastic, almost manic if you put up a fight like I did. It was a battle between two gods. The fight was between YAHWEH the One True GOD and MYSELF. My own fabricated idol.
Being your own idol is easier than it sounds.
When fear overtakes my heart, I give my fears more credibility than God. I doubt that He has the power to do anything about it, or I doubt that He wants to do anything about it. Because of this, I start making contingency plans, you know, just in case God doesn’t show up.
As I have grown in faith and in relationship with Him, I have put my life in His hands time and time again. My future, my ministry, my goals… when I got married, both Erik and I placed our marriage and the future of our family in His hands as well.
It is quite arrogant of me, honestly, to think that anything that is happening right now is outside of His will for us; whether we are walking in what we perceive is God’s will or not.
So why would I ever think that He is not present in what is happening? Or, that I have to figure it out on my own? That my friend, is idolatry. I made myself an idol, and I had to sacrifice that idol to let God be God in my life once again.
There is Beauty in the Pain.
“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” – Luke 22:32
Going through a hard time is not fun. If we are honest, we would rather not go through that pain, and sometimes, when it gets so unbearable we shout “GOD! What are you doing?! Why are you allowing this to happen?!”
In Luke 22, during the Last Supper, Jesus tells Peter that he (Peter) will be sifted greatly. Maybe Peters friend could have jumped in and said, “OK, but we will pray against this, in the name of Jesus, we speak against the plans of the enemy, that our brother may be spared.”
Interestingly though, Jesus Himself doesn’t pray this way. Instead He says,
“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.”
The New Living Translation even adds, “so when you have repented and turned to me again.” Wow… I mean… I can’t even. So, Jesus is fully aware that Peter will, number one, sin and betray Him, number two, be broken to the core because of this betrayal, but most importantly he knows the beauty that the sifting will bring.
Later on, John 21 tells us that after the resurrection, Jesus reinstates Peter and shows him how to use the great pain he just went through. While cooking breakfast, Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loves Him. Each time Peter says yes, Jesus replies, “Feed my sheep,” and, “Take care of my sheep.”
When my husband and I lost our unborn baby back in 2015, I thought my heart would never, ever recover. I thought it would be so broken it would become useless and unable to love properly, let alone be useful for any kind of ministry for God. Then, God brought into my life one of my best friends, Willow’s mom, and we walked her journey into living life without Willow.
I realized losing my baby, Alexander, had given me something I would’ve never gained elsewhere: a compassion and an understanding of my friend’s suffering that many others did not understand. My new friend and I walked through a deep, deep valley together. I wasn’t afraid of that darkness. I wasn’t terrified of getting down and dirty when she fell apart. I loved her with a love and an understanding I would have not had otherwise.
Now I know, that my difficult experience with adjusting to the military life can be used for good.
I feel equipped and actually quite excited knowing that He is using all of this as preparation to use me for other dear wives I will encounter in my journey. And for that, and them, I praise Him for my valley. I see the beauty in this suffering, because I will grow in love and compassion… just like He does for me.
I have learned to commit to memory Romans 8:28-29 and I will commit it to you to do it as well, because it has brought me great comfort and it has been magnified while I have been transformed by the renewal of my mind. He works ALL things for MY GOOD. Because He never leaves me nor forsakes me.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” – Romans 8:28-29
I am restored, in faith, in trust, and in love for my God and my husband. In hope. I am grateful beyond what words can describe for the miraculous work of the transformation that God did in me. And I have peace… (sometimes).
I will pray my friend, that if you are walking through a rough path right now, that you can experience this sweet grace as well.