Good morning, Five Minute Families. We are feeling refreshed and renewed, ready to begin the next seven weeks of a busy time here at CVR. We will be hosting all three of our organized programs during these weeks – grief retreat, family camp, and a marriage retreat, too. We feel God allowed the timing of these eventful weeks because Kim and I were just at a Christian counseling conference. God affirmed many of the things we teach here in our organized programs and gave us more equipping for the families and couples we will serve. Over the next two or three weeks, we would like to share some of the information that we found helpful and/or enlightening during the conference.
We’d like to start with a concept that we will be chewing on and revisiting as time marches on. The concept is neuroplasticity. This word and brain adaptation are not new to many folks, but what it means for a hurting family can be invaluable.
We know that God’s word says that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. How exactly does that happen? Interestingly, it was once believed that no neurons could be formed beyond 18 months of age; the science isn’t clear, but we do know that new neurons can grow, but even if they grow at a slow rate, God created the brain to be incredibly adaptable. People with brain injuries can learn to do skills such as reading or talking even if those traditional areas of the brain is damaged. Now, we don’t just have physical damage that happens to our brain. Emotional moments can greatly impact specific areas of the brain – mainly the amygdala and hippocampus. That means, even if your family has had trauma – individual or collective trauma – then despite the fact that your brains may have a specific initial reaction, it does not mean that the brain cannot be rewired to have healthier, safer, godlier responses.
Think of your old, trauma-induced or negative reactions as an old road, well-traveled and easily known. It is a straight shot but may cause lots of damage to the car and jarring to the people inside. But, it is the shortest, most direct route. It is the one you know and you just don’t have to think about it at all. You can drive this road automatically. You may even learn how to avoid some of the potholes and damaged spots. When healing begins and God gets hold of your heart, a new road begins to be constructed. A new, wider, stronger, safer road is under construction, but you have to weave in and through some of the old lanes. Patchworks emerge to help. But, you have to really pay attention to lane shifts and ‘under construction’ markers. There are hazards – large construction trucks, blockages and slow downs. Maybe even a few detours to the old road periodically. But, finally, the new road is there – strong, safe, and reliable. Maybe every once in a while, you find yourself in an old pattern on the old road, but realize quickly that you can drive back to the beginning, or merge onto to the new road, and have a better rest of the way home.
When a loved one comes to Christ, the old pathways are worn and used, but God begins the process of allowing different neural pathways to be built stronger and healthier.
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
1 Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance.
Ephesians 4:22-24 take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
We know God works changes us in an instant for a rare few, and He allows the longer process of sanctification to work through for most folks. Now, we are not saying that science will ever be able to fully explain how God created our brains to function within the transformation.
For example, we know that the peace of God is beyond all understanding, but when we trust the way he created our bodies and our brains to work, we can better understand the process of transforming us into God-honoring, grace-filled, and forgiving families.
Thanks for joining us for this slightly different five-minute family devotional while we share with you some of the amazing things God is doing in the fields of counseling and neuroscience for the families of Christ. Be blessed!