When you were young, what hung on the walls of your room? When you were a teenager? I don’t remember the walls of our bedrooms when we are in elementary school but as a teenager I remember clearly a picture of George Harrison of the Beatles. (He was with some blond woman to whom I took an instant disliking…the competition.) George was my favorite Beatle because all my friends loved Paul or John and I wanted to be different. I also assumed there would be fewer women to compete with.
Growing up I experienced things that should never have touched my young life – like alcoholism, abuse, abandonment by my father and more. These experiences became like posters on the walls of my mind. They shaped and defined me as I grew. As an adult I found that I acted out of the messages that were posted on those walls. When I watched a romantic love story or read a book, those fairy tales shaped my dreams and expectations. My mother’s love and faithfulness was also posted there. When I met Jesus He became like wallpaper surrounding me. Sometimes God’s love and presence removed some bad posters and sometimes they were just dimmed. All that has entered my mind through my eyes, ears and heart has become a part of me to some extent.
When I started to understand the power of what was plastered on the walls of my mind, I began a campaign to choose what would define me rather than be a victim to it. I forgave what needed forgiveness, made right the relationships I had broken, repented of things I had done that haunted me and sometimes asked God to just tear down the posters that really plagued me (at times He has done just that and other times He teaches me to be strong and not give power to some parts of my history). The point here is simple: we can take an assessment of the posters on the walls of our mind and do something about it.
Why does it matter? Because when we are with people they can see what is posted there, whether directly or indirectly. If we are being formed by posters reflecting love, kindness, survival through hard things and acceptance then people see that in the way we talk, act and respond. The images and words we choose to live with are shaping our attitudes, emotions and actions. Take a few minutes and ponder this for yourself. Ask God to show you what He sees and ask for His help in re-modeling the walls of your mind. We are all carrying some stuff that could use a makeover. We are all Fixer Uppers.
A friend shared with me this quote from Henri Nouwen: “After I had spent a few weeks slowly repeating Paul’s words, “love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous, love never seeks its own advantage,“ these words began to appear on the walls of my inner room much as the license in the doctors office. This was obviously not an “apparition“ but the emergence of an image. This image of a picture were sacred words on the wall of my inner room [and] gave me an understanding of the relationship between prayer and ministry…whenever I meet people during the day, I receive them in my inner room, trusting that the pictures on my wall will guide our meeting.“ Nouwen
What God is forming in each of us becomes an image in us that both feeds and builds us up spiritually, but also blesses and invites others who are able to see God’s growing goodness in us.
1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.
John 10:10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
2 Corinthians 9:8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
2 Peter 1:5-7 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
Ephesians 3:17-19 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.