What Do You Want Your Inner World To Look Like?

The world inside our minds can be a fascinating place. For some of us, it’s even more “real” than the outer world. Introverts in particular approach the world from the perspective that reality is what we bring to it from within. However, every type has an introverted and an extroverted side. Extroverts have an inner life, just like Introverts have an extroverted persona they use in the outer world. We all prefer one or the other as our starting point for conceptualizing reality, but every human being has an “inner world” of some kind.

Susan Storm’s post “The Secret World of Every Introverted Myers-Briggs® Personality Type” is what prompted today’s post. It got me thinking about how the worlds inside our own heads work, especially in connection with the Joyce Myers’ book Battlefield of the Mind that I’ve been reading. How much control do we have over the types of thoughts that we think? To what extent is our inner world shaped consciously? And if we don’t like something about the way our inner world or “thought life” is now, can we change it?

Our Minds Shape Us

The question of what our inner world looks like is probably most interesting to introverts, but I think it’s one that extroverts benefit from considering as well. None of us walk around all day with our minds a blank slate waiting for something outside us to fill out thoughts. We’re all using our inner thought life for something, even if it seems to just be running on automatic.

The Book of Proverbs tells us that as a man “thinks within himself, so is he” (Prov. 23:7, TLV). Even if you’re not a Bible-reader, it’s still a principle that we can apply. The things that we think about on the inside shape who we are and who we’re becoming on the outside. It’s impossible to separate what our inner world looks like from the reality of who we are as a whole person. Read more

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Your Memory Doesn’t Work The Way You Think It Does

We tend to think of our memories as pretty reliable things. We might joke about how forgetful we are, but when we do remember something we assume that it’s accurate.

I was 12 years old on September 11, 2001 and I vividly remember hearing about the terrorist attack. I was in our family minivan with my mother, sister, and little brother when the news came over the radio. I wasn’t quite sure what had happened, and was more worried that my mother was going to drive into another car on the crowded in-town roads because she was so upset. We continued on to the roller skating rink where we’d been heading, skated for a while, and then stopped when the announcement went out over the loudspeaker. Several people gathered together to pray, but we stayed off to one side praying just as a family. I felt scared, confused, and very alone.

That’s probably not what actually happened, though. Another thing I remember is starting a diary because I was sure that this was such a pivotal turning point in our nation’s history that decades from now some historian would care about what I wrote. I can’t find that diary anywhere, so I have no way to compare my memories now against what I recorded back then. But if I’m anything like other people, then only a little over 50% of these details I remember are accurate. Read more

Making Some New Paths In Our Minds

One of the more helpful (for me, at least) analogies that my counselor has used as we work on my anxiety is that we can think of our minds as a big open field. As we live and grow, our thoughts travel over this field and we start to wear-down paths as we think along the same lines over and over.

For example, little Marissa grew up in a safe, cozy home with parents who told her she was loved. So the “I am loved” thought-path got a lot of travel. It became an easy path to go down. But at some point, a conflicting message came in and it shifted the path. No longer “I am loved” without qualifiers, but now “I am loved by my family and God” because those are the ones who haven’t let me down or rejected me. And even though there’s evidence to the contrary coming from many friends, anxiety adds the idea “and no one else” to that thought-path.

Your Brain Can Lie

Your brain can be a dirty, rotten liar (to quote my counselor again). And while anxiety doesn’t look the same for everyone who deals with it, one of the common things it does is push your brain toward overestimating worst-case scenarios. You wear deep paths in your mental field that reinforce all the negative things and push positive ones off somewhere in the tall grass.

And so my mind likes to wander down the “no one will accept you as your full, authentic self” path even though I have plenty of evidence to the contrary. For example, all the comments on the post where I told you about my breakup and anxiety are evidence that my brain is lying when it wants to head down that road. But that’s still what the brain wants to do. And this is also how you can end up thinking things like, “no one appreciates my contributions” when there are dozens of people who love what you’re doing but those one or two people who criticize you become the only voices you can hear. Read more

God’s Thoughts

Doing a study on how God thinks might in some ways seem futile, since Romans 11:33-34 says His ways are past finding out” and implies that no human has or can know “the mind of the Lord.” But another verse that borrows this thought from Isaiah 40:13 and Jeremiah 23:18 gives a bit more hope for today’s topic.

For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:16)

The context of this verse is explaining how God, through His Holy Spirit, gives us access to His thoughts. Because we have been called and given His Spirit, “we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 1:12). That doesn’t mean we know, or can know, everything, but it does mean we can begin to understand the mind of God and have Christ’s mind formed in us (Phil. 2:5).

God’s Thoughts Are…

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is. 55:6-9)

Before these verses tell us how much higher God’s thoughts are than ours, it instructs us to change the patterns of our own thinking. Our thoughts must be in the right place before we can begin to understand how God thinks. In order to “return to the Lord,” we have to forsake unrighteous thoughts and wicked ways.

casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, (2 Cor. 10:5)

Though we are created in God’s image, we can’t assume that means His thoughts are similar to ours. They are far higher, and to have a relationship with Him we need to recognize that our pattern of thinking needs to change — to become more like the One we were originally patterned after.

He Knows Our Thoughts

In sci-fi, we describe the ability to read someone else’s thoughts as telepathy. We could say God has this superpower, which is an idea I find both awe-inspiring and a bit scary. He can understand us from the perspective of sensing our innermost thoughts and driving motivations. If we feel lonely or misunderstood, this is a comfort. But when we’ve done something wrong it is impossible to hide from Him.

O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. …

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. (Ps. 139:1-4, 7-10)

blog post "God's Thoughts" by marissabaker.wordpress.comThis is my favorite Psalm. I usually find the idea of being known so intimately by my Lord a huge comfort. Who else can literally know every aspect of who you are, understand you perfectly, and still love you?

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You. …

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Ps. 139:17-18, 23-24)

Once we ask God for this kind of relationship, though, it’s not all about being accepted just as we are. God loves us now, exactly as He finds us, but one aspect of this Love is that He will not allow us to remain imperfect versions of ourselves. He has to be working in us and with us to change us, to make us more like Him.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:12-16)

His Thoughts Toward Us

Though He knows every one of our thoughts, and sees all our foibles and faults (even the ones we manage to keep hidden from other people), God’s own thoughts toward us are good things. Another scripture I take great comfort in is part of a letter Jeremiah the prophet wrote when the Jews were carried away captive as a result of their disobedience to God. Even in that context, God was still planning good things for them and thinking of them kindly.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive. (Jer. 29:11-14)

It’s interesting that here as well as in Isaiah 55:6 there is the idea of seeking the Lord. Both times when we’re talking about God’s thoughts in relation to us, we are instructed to seek Him because He wants to be found. He wants us to love Him, to try and understand Him, and to grow in His character — to learn to think the way He thinks.

Why All These Quizzes?

If you’re like me, you have a Facebook friend or two (or three or four) who posts their results from all those “Which *name of a TV show* character are you?” or “What time period should you live in?” quizzes. Even if you aren’t posting the results yourself, you’ve probably clicked on a few of them to see what your results are. It’s fun, it’s harmless, and it’s ridiculously popular. But why?

Several people are writing articles to answer the question Why Online Quizzes Are Taking Over Your Facebook Feed or discuss The Unstoppable Rise Of The BuzzFeed Quiz. Explanations include: we like to believe life can be chategorized, we’re on a search to answer the question “Who am I?”, we want to fit in with something, we want affirmation of how we see ourselves, and we’re looking for a distraction to combat the sense of information overload.

I like quizzes too. On the more respected/serious side, I’m interested in Myers-Briggs personality tests (I’m an INFJ). On the lighter side, I’m just as guilty of wanting to know which sandwich I am as the rest of you.

Which Divergent faction are you?

Who were you during the Renaissance? William Shakespeare (are you comparing me to one of the greatest writers ever? please, continue)

Which Doctor Who Doctor are you? 10th Doctor (of course — my favorite)

What state do you actually belong in? Minnesota (why?)

Which super power is right for you? Super smarts (you may all feel free to laugh)

Which Disney prince is your true love? Prince Eric (um, no)

One of the articles I linked above said none of your Facebook friends really care whether you’re more like Kirk or Spock (I’m Uhura by the way). In part that’s true — we want to find out what result we’ll get far more than we care about your result. But I’ve also enjoyed finding out that one of my former professors “is” Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory (which surprised none of his students, though he couldn’t understand why because he’s never watched the show).

On the whole, though, any connection from taking a quiz like this is superficial. You can’t maintain a relationship based on Facebook posts, and friendships aren’t deepened by learning what kind of sandwich you are. So maybe the larger issue regarding online quizzes is that they’re another way the internet allows us to kill time while keeping up the appearance of interacting with other people. It’s a poor substitute for real conversation though, as I was reminded by spending this past Sabbath in a place with no cell-phone service and no wi-fi. Instead, there was a  wonderful group of people to spend time with while we talked, walked up and down steep hills, and made popcorn over an open fire. And I didn’t miss Facebook or quizzes at all.

The Mystery of the Weigh Stations

Weigh Station: CLOSED

I drove over 1,000 miles last weekend on the way to and from visiting a dear friend. On the way, I had ample opportunity to muse about the complexities and mysteries of life, including weigh stations.

You know what I mean — those little places along highways ostensibly built as “a checkpoint along a highway to inspect vehicular weights” (according to Wikipedia). But they’re never open. There’s usually a sign that says “weigh station” and then in glowing letters it says “closed.” I think prior to this trip I’d seen only one that was open and had a truck driving into it. Coming home I did see a weigh station sign with glowing letters that said “open,” but I never saw the weigh station. Very mysterious if you ask me.

And yes, I did do my research on this and found out about the electronic bypass systems with scales embedded in the road so trucks can be weighed without actually entering the weigh station. But the weigh stations are still there, mostly closed from what I’ve seen, and I wonder what they might be used for. Here are my top theories:

  1. They are entrances to secret government facilities, hiding in plain sight like the purloined letter. And being a weigh station, even an out-of-use one, means no one would think it too terribly odd if a truck drove in and delivered secret something or others.
  2. The entire weigh station thing is a cover for an alien invasion. They landed here and set up weigh stations, edited Wikepedia, and no one noticed because everyone assumed the stations were someone else’s jurisdiction.
  3. 42. It’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything, so I’m assuming that includes weigh stations.
  4. They actually are what they claim to be, but have now been taken over by some kind of secret organization. I’m picturing men in floor-length cloaks with masks whispering “What’s the password?” and speaking in Latin.
view from my car of a weigh station I passed on the way home
view from my car of a closed weigh station I passed on the way home

Personally, I’m leaning toward number 2. But that might just be because I’m starting to get excited about Falling Skies coming back on the 22nd.

What are your off-the-wall or so-strange-it-just-might-be-real theories? Doesn’t have to be about weigh stations — could be anything that has the potential to be far more interesting than most people assume.