Most of us didn't know each other well. Many in the group had never met before. We spent the early afternoon having lunch and getting better acquainted. The wonderful mix of temperaments made the meal a very entertaining experience. More then once I nearly spewed hot chocolate through my nose listening to the humorous stories being shared.
What a fun bunch.
But it was all business during the services. The speaker was well received and each night many people came forward for prayer. I was one of many who ministered and prayed with them.
On the second evening, in the middle of praying, I felt someone grab my arm. I turned quickly to see the pastor of the church standing in front of me. In earnest he said "it's time to change the tape."
I looked behind me in confusion. Had I been assigned to the sound booth and misunderstood? There was music playing.
Did I need to leave my post and go before an audio nightmare quenched the flow of what was happening in the service.
I turned back around to the person who I'd been ministering to and attempted to continue where we'd left off. Within minutes the pastor was tugging at my sleeve emphatically again repeating "Change the tape now!"
By this time I felt thoroughly confused.
We'd never had a conversation and I knew nothing about a tape. With great concern I finally asked "what tape are you talking about?"
"The tape in your mind" he replied.
Oh, that tape.
(For those of you who find this 80's lingo hard to understand he was referencing a cassette tape. If you were born post-cassette think of it as a playlist of your favorite tunes.)
He went on to share in detail enough of the self-talk which continuously played in the recesses of my mind for me to wonder if he'd been a fly on the wall inside my head. A scary thought, for sure.
By this time the person I had been praying with was listening to our exchange. I'd have felt embarrassed had I not been so stunned by his accuracy. This man did not know me. He and I had not engaged in prior conversation.
Only God could have told him my thoughts.
On the outside I appeared altogether. This took great energy and was part and parcel of my overly developed defense mechanism--perfectionism. I worked hard to project an air of confidence in order to hide the internal battle I constantly waged with words of self-criticism, self-defeat, and self-loathing.
No matter what I did or how hard I tried. Regardless of what I had achieved or managed to fix I could not get away from the negative soundtrack on loop. Over and over again it played day and night in my head.
It was all negative.
We'd gone on the trip to see others lives transformed by the power of God. Little did I know that I would experience a change myself. Confronted with the truth regarding my "stinking thinking" I left pursuing a new mindset which was something that was long overdue.
I needed a new tape to replace the old.
It has been a process. Good music doesn't happen overnight. It takes time and dedication to the process. Practice and proper production. The same can be said for new mindsets.
They require being intentional.
I'm still mixing the new messages for my mind. For me it takes more than positive affirmations. After all, I've listened to the old tape for half a century. I know most of it by heart. The new tape requires fresh material.
Truths to counter the lies.
I find most of my inspiration in Scripture. The Bible has a lot to say about us. Who we belong to. How He feels about us. What is good and acceptable. How to improve ourselves in a way that adds eternal value. What I read there is nothing like the soundtrack that has played in my mind for so many years.
They are polar opposites.
I've always found it easier to show grace to others. It has never been hard to imagine that God loves people. I just had difficulty believing that He cared so deeply for me. But that is all changing as I work to create a new playlist.
Perhaps you can relate and would like know where to begin. Philippians 4:8 is a good place to start. "Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected." (ERV)
Change takes time, especially when it comes to negative patterns, but with God's help we can overcome these obstacles and realize the great things that He has in store for us.
The best place to mix a new tape is in God's Word.