April 2, 2014

Changing the tape

We were in Charleston, WV with an itinerant preacher and his team. It was rare for us to accept invitations to travel but since we'd planned to slip over to another area of the state to spend Thanksgiving with my grandparents the timing of it all couldn't have been better.

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.

What tape?

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.


Denise Beidler Bennorth said...

Oh, that eternal looping tape of negative thoughts is a hard one to change. I could relate to your story, and wish I had someone to whisper to me to "Change the tape," when that would help. Have a great weekend, Melinda!

Sherrey Meyer said...

Melinda, great post on a topic many of us would like not to think about, but truly need to consider. The "change the tape" image is something I will carry with me after reading this for when my mind, or better yet my heart, needs to be changed or reversed. Change is so hard, but doable if God's on our side. Thanks for opening my eyes today.

Linda Andres said...

Great post and message, Melinda. I am glad you received it so you can start seeing the beauty in you in a deeper way.

Laura Hile said...

God is so much more gracious to us than we are to ourselves. Yes, I am from the cassette tape generation---not 8-track, mind you! ---and "Change the tape!" is a useful way to remember this concept. Thank you, Melinda.

Melinda Lancaster said...

I remember 8 tracks, Laura, but never used them. Thanks for coming by and leaving some encouragement!

Sharon said...

This is such a great word for us all! We have to make sure the right Philippians 4:8 tape is playing all of the time. We miss too much by listening to the enemy's lies!

Melinda Lancaster said...

Thanks, Linda. Still working on it.

Melinda Lancaster said...

You're welcome Sherrey. Thanks for stopping by.

Melinda Lancaster said...

Maybe you'll think to whisper it to yourself, Denise.

Melinda Lancaster said...

Hi Sharon! It's a battle but one worth waging!

Kendra Burrows said...

I LOVE this, Melinda! And what a great message for me to hear right now. I was feeling bad that I hadn't gotten around to reading your post yet, but now I see it was God's timing that I should read it now when I can truly hear it, rather than several days ago when it would have been static. Ahhh! We worship and amazing God! Thank you for letting Him speak through you.

Tonia Hurst said...

Melinda, how did I miss this? Similar to what Kendra said, there is must be a reason I found myself reading this now and not sooner or later, just now. Well said and I'm left wondering.

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