In seminary, one of the most practical classes that I took was “Counseling Emotional Problems,” and in it, my professor emphasized the importance of “renewing our minds” as Christ-followers (see Eph. 4:21-23; Rom. 12:1-2). With any emotional issue or sin struggle, we battle temptation or lies in our minds, and our actions merely reflect the content of our thoughts. Therefore, for change to occur, you must begin at the root of the emotional issue or sin struggle – the mind.
So how do I “change my mind” and help women in crisis change theirs?
First of all, this will not be something they can do on their own power. We cannot pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, heal, and deal with the root of depression or anger or an eating disorder on our own. We need the Spirit of God, the Word of God, and the people of God to help you. Seek the Lord in prayer, asking Him to help you. Dig into God’s Word and learn the truth. As a Christ-follower of the same gender be a woman with whom other women can share.
I also do not want to negate the use of biblical counseling and the proper use of medication when needed and used hand-in-hand with counseling. It is not a sign of weakness to talk to a counselor or to use medication. A counselor can help equip us to better understand and face various situations, and medicine when properly used can improve health and functioning, enabling the individual to better process and cope.
Second, remember the acronym “ABCDE.”
- Actuating Event – What is the event that triggers negative thoughts or invites temptation? For example, parents divorcing might cause feelings of insecurity or anger. Another example might be that a coworker or classmate’s thoughtless remark all of the sudden causes a woman to feel pressured, insecure, or ashamed. In these examples, the divorce and the careless remark serve as the actuating event that begins the chain reaction inside.
- Belief about the Event – You cannot change events that have happened in life, and they are often out of our control to begin with. While we cannot prevent or erase them, we can change how we think about them. To do this, we need to identify what our beliefs/thoughts are about the event. What emotions do those events trigger, and what are the thoughts behind or associated with those emotions? This is where using the web described in the previous post can be helpful in determining emotions and beliefs.
- Consequences of the Behavior – Our beliefs lead to consequences. If we am angry at God because He permitted a broken relationship to happen, then that anger can lead to depression, which can lead to a host of other consequences from health problems to strained relationships to suicidal thoughts. If we do not like the consequences, then we have to change what leads to those consequences – our beliefs!
- Dispute the False Belief(s) – Do our beliefs and thoughts align with the truth proclaimed in Scripture? Do we even know Scripture well enough to answer that question? We cannot identify error unless we know truth. Study Scripture. If a woman struggles with anger, use the concordance in the back of your Bible to look up verses that relate to anger, forgiveness, and love. Let verses about God’s character and God’s promises be what you encourage her to fill her mind with. This will not be as easy as it sounds, and perseverance will be needed because it is a daily battle to combat deceptive thoughts and to speak truth to ourselves. If we’re not intentional in filtering thoughts that do not align with Scripture and replacing them with truth, then we will lose the battle.
- Experience the Effects of the New Belief – We can experience different consequences, positive consequences, when we dispute false beliefs.
Ephesians 4:21-23 states, “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
By renewing our mind, we are taking off the old self – our flesh – and putting on righteousness. In all of this, remember the grace of Christ – grace that He demonstrates in His loving sacrifice.
“Such grace should make us so in love with God that we cannot stand whatever in our lives re-soils us and offends him. Biblical grace makes us intolerant of evil in our lives” (R. Kent Hughes)
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:5-6).
Ashley Chesnut lives in Birmingham, Alabama, and works on the Local Disciple-Making Team at The The Church at Brook Hills. Having grown up in college ministry, Ashley has a passion for discipling college girls and for writing and teaching others about God’s Word. Check out more about discipleship and women’s ministry at the Brook Hills Women’s Blog.
Hurting Women category on this blog for supporting articles
Shepherding Women in Pain, Bev Hislop
I Will Carry You, Angie Smith
Women Reaching Women in Crisis, LifeWay Women Live web cast