What is Growing in the Garden of Your Mind?

I was listening to a podcast from Proverbs 31 Ministries called, “Therapy and Theology: When the Unchangeable Feels Unforgivable.” Lysa Terkeurst and her team were talking about the process of forgiveness and she questioned an old adage, “Time heals old wounds.” She expressed she did not believe that was necessarily a true statement. However, she created a twist on that old adage that she believes holds more truth, which is “Time will grow whatever you plant in it.” 

This statement resonated with me because as a counsellor, I try to promote healthy habits in all aspects of one’s life. It made me think of a piece of word art that hung in my counselling supervisor’s office that said, “Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.” This quote speaks to the importance of being mindful of what you plant in your “life garden.” 

There are lots of things that we can plant in our lives – healthy or unhealthy thoughts, choices, mindsets (attitudes) and habits…I could keep going. Ultimately, we get to choose what we grow in our lives. Will it be helpful or harmful? Will it be life-giving and produce more fruit? This makes me think of the passage from John 15: 1- 5.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

This idea of bearing (producing) fruit is foundational for those who believe in God and have a personal relationship with Him. This passage reminds us that we can’t bear fruit without Him. He is the vine and we are His branches. We need Him daily and in every aspect of our lives. Apart from Him we can do nothing…We can’t bear fruit. A relationship with God can be pivotal in helping us create healthy thoughts, choices, positive mindset and healthy habits in our lives. When we keep our branches connected to His vine, it allows us to grow and plant life-giving fruit. 

Life can throw us all kinds of curveballs to challenge our thoughts, perspectives and beliefs. What we focus on can become our perspective, which can become our belief, which then will either grow fruit or weeds. Will we sit with fear, anger, and resentment towards our situations? Or can we look at our situation, trust God, and choose to do things that can be helpful (ie. creating schedules, routines, healthy habits)? 

So, what are some practical things we can instill in our daily lives to help us create healthy habits? I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all answer to this, but I do think there are many good things we can do that can help. Below are a few things that would be helpful to start in order to begin “planting” healthy habits: 

  1. Gratitude – Taking time to acknowledge the things in our lives that we can be grateful for has proven to have a positive affect in the areas of general wellbeing. Practicing gratitude can increase resiliency, strengthen social relationships, reduce stress and create a greater capacity for joy and positive emotions. 
  2. Movement – Any kind of physical movement, (walking, stretching, dancing), has proven to be beneficial in an individual’s overall wellbeing and mental health. The release of endorphins, (the “feel-good” chemical), in our brain can help us feel better and refocus our minds. 
  3. Spending time with God – Spending time with God can take many forms – prayer, reading the bible, worship, meditating on His Word, etc. It is another great way to focus our minds on things that are true, right, noble, trustworthy, and helpful. Aligning our minds in Christ can help with setting our firm foundation in Him. 
  4. Healthy boundaries – Boundaries can help create peace in our lives. I read a quote from Courtney J. Burg that said, “My boundaries aren’t to push you out. They’re to hold me in.” She went on to say, “I believe Jesus gave me boundaries as a way to stay close to Him and a way to stay close to the Me He created, not the version the world expects from me.” Healthy boundaries is a form of self-care. It is saying to ourselves, “I value these things in my life and I have the right to choose how to guard, honour and set priorities.” When we develop healthy boundaries, we are acknowledging that we have value in who God has made us to be. 

God gave us a choice. We get to choose if we sever our branch from the true Vine and attach it to other vines that produce weeds. Weeds take hold and can choke out the joy that He has for you. God desires for us to choose Him and to be firmly established in His love and care. This is where time comes in… “Time will grow whatever you plant in it.”  He has given us time to set our thoughts, perspectives and beliefs on Him. When we do this, we can confidently know that we are deeply rooted in His love and we will bear much fruit. When we create healthy habits that are rooted in Him, it will set us up to grow in love, joy, compassion, peace, and forgiveness.

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