Be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Romans 12:2b
What does it look like to change the way you think? Change is hard. The patterns that got you where you are today don’t just instantly disappear because you’ve decided it’s time to change. My wife, Kim, did a deep clean of the kitchen last week—one small way to try to bring some order to the chaos of our formerly serene empty nest lives. She spent hours taking everything out of the drawers, everything out of the pantry, everything out of every cabinet. The wedding goblets that we’ve never used, the mismatched Tupperware, the expired canned goods, the broken selfie stick, the random plates and pans—all found a new home with a college kid, Goodwill, or the trash. The entire junk drawer—gone! Out with the old, in with the new!
But outside of about $50 at Menards for some new drawer liners and a few baskets, we didn’t buy anything new. What was new was the system, the whole organizational system. Everything now has a place that makes sense. This drawer for the pots and matching lids that we use all the time. This shelf for just the coffee mugs. The old system never really made much sense because it was birthed fourteen years ago amid the chaos of a husband with cancer and three elementary school kids running around the house. Somebody else helped us put away things for the first time, and we just stuck with it.
Replacing an old system with a new system is hard. I have to think differently. If I don’t, I’ll drift back into clutter. My old habits are hard to break because they’re. .. . habits. The pathway from my pockets and my projects to the junk drawer is well worn. It’s easier for me to throw my random keys, pens, screwdrivers, and batteries into the junk drawer. But now the junk drawer is gone! I have to find new steps, new places to put things, new routines. The reality, though, is it’s not that easy. The junk drawer is still there in my mind, and my daughter’s old room could easily become the new junk room!
Changing the way you think is hard because it requires a system change. My only assignment in the kitchen project was cleaning the oven—a nasty job with its own spiritual lessons—but one that didn’t require much thinking. After half reading the directions on the can, I sprayed the oven, shut the door for 24 hours, and wiped it clean. I’m still not sure if I was supposed to turn the oven on or off for the final wipe off. But a little elbow grease and I could celebrate my progress. Real change that sticks is a lot more like Kim’s project than mine.
Paul tells us that transformation requires a “renewal of your mind,” a whole new way of thinking, a whole new system. For those of us who are trying to follow Jesus, wherever we are on that journey, God’s love for us is our new operating system. We love because he first loved us. We forgive because he first forgave us. We give of ourselves to others because he gave everything to us. The old system, the old pattern for me, always has a junk drawer labeled “I am in charge.”
How do you know that you’re changing? Simple. You don’t have to work and think so hard to put everything in its new spot. I naturally go the right drawer. Dallas Willard puts it simply, “Spiritual maturity is to do effortlessly what Jesus would do if he were in your shoes.” In other words, I become the type of person who loves like Jesus loves. That is what I want to do. So I do it. And I don’t miss the junk drawer.
Prayer Starter: Father, help me to see that your way is better than my way. Help me to change my wants. Give me the strength to take new steps.
For More: Read Colossians 3:1-17