Why Transformation Takes Time (#549)

One of the themes of our ongoing podcast is the time it takes for our brains to switch from living in the bondage of religious performance, to finding our life and freedom in the affection of a gracious Father. It is a journey that takes years and we've often wondered why. Wayne shares with Brad a recent article that excited him by seeming to confirm that this is not only a spiritual reality, but also a physiological reason why it's true. God created our brain to be an amazingly adaptive and because of that our neural pathways are influenced by everything that happens to us and everything we take in. It's an amazing process where the way we think is shaped by the neural pathways that have most influenced us in the past. The good news, however, is that we can blaze new pathways of thinking over time. Old trails unused will fade away and new ones that serve us better can become part of the fabric of our lives. Is this what Paul meant by "the renewing of the mind?" It certainly seems to be part of it and explains why conformity to a list of expectations can never change us.

Podcast Notes:
Article by David Eagleman on Keeping the Brain Active
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  1. Very interesting given that I agree with the basic premise that there is a process involved (as opposed to events wherein we can hope to get “zapped” into change – notwithstanding that receiving the life of God- eternal life – can be reasonably understood as occurring at a moment in time, albeit transpired/transacted at the cross). To my understanding, the process is the point/goal. The process could be reasonably understood as relationship.

    I often reflect on the verse “grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ”. I would respectfully submit for consideration that a more helpful reading could be “grow inside the grace and knowing of Jesus Christ”. Given that “Jesus is full of grace and truth” and that we are in him and he in us, it seems the “atmosphere” inside of him is where our growing and transformation (through the vehicle of the mind) occurs. Rather than living from our circumstances, attempting to “get to him” (or God forbid, trying to please him so that he will accept us at any point of our journey/process) we can live out of the sweet spot (that he has fully accomplished) into our circumstances in his strength and with his leading.

    Although the process occurs over time, we are always complete in him. Getting used to that reality takes time because our default position morphs from the bondage of self effort, into freedom. In our sincerity, we want to “help God”, and this is constantly reinforced by preaching that tries to spur us on to ever greater performance and change through practicing the directives/principles of the system we are encouraged to join and practice.

    You guys continue to explore the nuances and insights of relationship, not an easy or simple dynamic to capture, understand and communicate. I love the process of discussing the issues involved. Thank you for your willingness to challenge yourselves and us who get to listen in.

  2. Great discussion today! As always, 2 guys that have learned a lot through their particular life paths and share stuff about our relationship with God and how to “really move forward” – so good! . On the science front, my mind was alerted to an individual that very much confirms the observations that both of you made and likewise the author of the book “Keeping the Brain Active”. The book is called ” You are the Placebo – Making your Mind Matter – by Dr. Joe Dispenza. I’ve just started the book myself but I truly believe it resonates with what was discussed in your podcast and very well could be a “game-changer” for most of us who have been locked into our “old selves” and have likewise experienced much needless suffering through not knowing how we work and what God has endowed us with – ad infinitum. Also, see the youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzWmMJq6vJc (How to stop being yourself – Breaking the chains of self-imposed limitations!) So, that’s it…just wanted to make that known and to thank Wayne and Brad once again … as they discuss subjects that mean a lot for many people and in many different ways. Take care – gang. j.

  3. Loved this conversation. When I was in college, I was required to take a biology class the very first semester. Part of that class involved looking tiny organisms under a microscope. One day we had to look at a volvox and it absolutely changed my life. It was so gorgeous, and I couldn’t believe the detail of something so small. I changed my major to Biology just to study all that kind of stuff. The underlying motivation for me was God-hunger. The closer one looks at his creation the more perfect it becomes, and we can learn a lot about his love through all of it. God’s creation is part of his word. Loved the synapse illustrations and especially the part when you both talked about fruit of the spirit and time. It is a journey and we are slow-learners most of the time but that is so encouraging that God wired us to continue to blaze new trails if we choose to.

  4. It’s called GABA Gaba Amino Buteric Acid. The brain releases it. I did a couture under Sy Rogers who explained this and how it works to change. His course is called Living and Loving about sexual orientation, however it can be utilised for any change. Example I want a drink (alcoholic) we know they can phone there sponsor person but they can get the GABA started by going for a walk,swim, run bowling, etc. when they want that drink the GABA starts working and the habit booze, smoking, sex, homosexualism, lesbianism, overeating, anorexia whatever. God provided GABA.
    I believe this is what Romans 12:2 is all about. I use this with my clients great success. Gail from Oz.

  5. I once read that repeated thinking/actions create a super highway in your brain. These are difficult to change. I think we can all relate. The speed at which these move are so fast that they are very difficult to change because your brain prefers the easiest route. When something is triggered, the brain automatically follows the same route, assuming you want the same outcome that you have done so many times before. This is what makes overcoming long term addiction so difficult. This is why changing what we thought was true about God after years of living in unhealthy churches is a challenge. The rebuilding of new pathways (renewing of the mind) that are strong enough to prevent the brain from following the superhighway is not an easy undertaking.

    After many years of verbal abuse, the super highways of being “less than” and “needing to prove my value and worth” continued to be reinforced until I was in my mid forties when it became clear that these thinking patterns existed. Almost 15+ years later, some alternate routes have started to exist but the ability to slip into that old groove is so easy, easier and more common than I would prefer after all these years. Sometimes it feels like I am right back at the beginning again.

    The patterns seem so entrenched and so powerful, I sometimes lose hope. I am reminded that this is why Jesus perfectly executed his life before the Father, and took me into himself so that his perfection becomes mine. His righteousness, faith and obedience all become mine. This rescues me from giving up completely.

    This week has been a tough one because of circumstances in my life and the resulting commute down a well-know super highway. Your podcast and a daily scripture that came to me this week provides the ongoing encouragement needed.

    Hebrews 4:15 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. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

  6. I enjoyed listening to this podcast and reading all of your comments. The podcast has spoken into where I have recently been in my journey. I have called my self a recovering “analyst-aholic.” I mistakenly and unknowingly idolized my reasoning ability, and confused this (pre-frontal cortex) knowledge with being healed, transformed and living int the newness of life. How I was blind…and sadly, hurtful and harmful to others in my blindness!!!

    With the veil of illusion and denial being removed, I have alarmingly realized I am just a kid who is insecure, living in shame and fear who built a wall of knowledge and control around myself hoping that no one, not even myself, would see the little boy behind the veil. In my journey over the last year as my veil is being removed I have immersed myself with more counseling, healing ministry, listening to books and other healing instructional videos, participated in small group…support group, journaling, etc… Although all that I have mentioned has been helpful, I can no more accelerate my own healing and transformation than the moon can make its own light. I think my place is to position my heart, as best as i know how, so that the Light would shine upon me…

    What I think I understand about healing is that about all i can do is ride the next wave of life, healing, love… that shows itself to me, and learn to live a surrendered life to the process – how ever long it takes and where ever it takes.

    Much of the time I have instinctively pitched fits – much like a toddler not getting his way – over not being able to control much of anything, and feeling helpless much of the time. I have the ability to look out over the horizon and intellectually describe the place of healing and fullness, but I can not make myself re-route these new neural pathways that lead me to a place of joy. I cannot just “stop-it” and think myself into a better place of genuine joy and rest (“stop-it” is a reference to the Bob Newhart episode where he plays a counselor on Mad TV – funny! )

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jim. Your immersion into all sorts of “programs” for healing has been similar to my own journey. I would not say that these were a waste of time, as a greater degree of self-awareness emerged that helped me identify trigger points and key issues in my life. But, like you, they did not result in an emergence of a different or improved me. Living with a greater degree of self-awareness did allow me to see when I messed up so I can apologize to others, or realize midstream what I was doing, or come boldly into the throne room to talk it over with Papa. Its a whole lot better than living in ignorance. I also discovered that being aware of my issues gave me an opportunity to be “real” with people and invite them into a deeper conversation about their own stuff.

      The other thing I have come to realize of late is that the pursuit of healing and change can sometimes be addictive and problematic. The church is full of self-help programming, and many sermons are a reminder of how wrong and bad we are and how we are get fixed. This environment of constantly assessing our levels of depravity or improvement is not a healthy one. Recently, after struggling with the fact that I may not change as much I would like to, and wondering what I should do, I felt the Lord say to me: “I release you from the tyranny of change.” And I was reminded that he works in me to will and to do, and I can relax in knowing that he will work in me those things he wants to do next. AND he knows the best order too.

  7. Sure, you are welcome John. Thank you for sharing yours also. I agree that the “programs” are helpful with self-awareness and an opportunity to be “real” with people and other stuff as well… I was not being fully real with people, because I was sooooo scared they would not want to be with me because I had weaknesses and short comings; so I presented myself as having it all put together, and thus, in a self-sabotaging way, I kept others away from me because i was “perfect” and “judgmental.” UGH!!!!!

    I am very slowly learning to “relax” into the process and journey and stop hurrying the healing experience any faster than it is. Thanks again for your comments, John.

  8. I think when I stop scurrying and cut down on the noise and clamor around me, it is so much easier to hear God. I know that whenever I’m in a funk, I have to absolutely chill and seek God’s rest. However, it is not just going blank. I also know I have to monitor the looney toon images that pop into my mind. The word is a constant comfort , as is praying. When it gets lonely fellowship-wise, these podcasts (and comments too!) are so enjoyable and thought-provoking in a good way. I also spend a lot of time laughing when I listen to them. Lightheartedness is godly on so many counts. God really has provided many unique ways to escape out of the things that pull or hold us back.

  9. This was liberating! Thank you for sharing this! It really gave a new perspective to the “walking out my salvation”! It is a transition and we need to enjoy the journey AND the time it takes!

  10. I was listening to Anne Lamott’s book, “Small Victories” and she wrote the following within the context of her journey of learning to forgive her mother, “This is how we make important changes: barely, poorly, slowly…and still (Jesus) raises His gist in triumph.”.
    I like her expression of how change had come about in her life, and it seems to fit with this podcast.

  11. Forming pathways in the brain makes sense in the story of transformation and it brings much hope that this can be done at any age! I have been focused on listening to and reading material that emphasizes our relationship with God as a journey for many months. This podcast explains why I feel the need right now to listen to tons of God Journey podcasts. I also am working my way through the Transitions series and the Jesus Lens. I have read He Loves Me and I am slowly reading In Season. Is this because Wayne is a guru that I want to follow? No, but he has been an instrument/guide/fellow brother and journeyman to lead me into a new and fresh season in my journey. I think new pathways and highways are being formed. One day I likely won’t feel the need for so much soaking/consumption of this material. But right now, as a new widow, I am on a path of moving into a new season of my life with a greater vision of God, increasing freedom of living, and a rhythm of an ongoing conversation rooted in His love. I think I am in a time of equipping with many synapses flinging freedom all over my brain! I am grateful to Father to leading me to relax into this dance. I am learning every single day with the freedom to fail. Sin is being untwisted. I am grateful for you Wayne as a fellow journeyman for providing a framework and language to what my spirit has yearned for a long time–freedom from a systematic/religious way of living and moving forward into a relationship of grace, freedom, and love with my affectionate Father.

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