Change Your Mind

(Photo by Savannah Lawrence and edited by Selma Komisky)

Change Your Mind

By Kris Ann K. Erickson

I stood at the starting line, scanning the crowd for my mother’s face.  I wanted to see her see me. Still looking, I heard the announcer. “On your marks … get set … go!”  Still searching, I was nearly 50M into the 100M dash before I spied Mom’s smiling face.  She waved.  I smiled, waved in return and crossed the finish line … dead last. I was 6 years old.

The thrill of finding my mom on the sideline was quickly overshadowed by the disappointment and embarrassment of being the worst runner in the Kindergarten class. At home, I wept bitterly over my green participation ribbon. Mom consoled me, “Oh honey, it’s okay.  You’re just not a runner.”

That explained it. I was not a runner. I never questioned it.  It was simply so.

Forty years passed.

A friend invited me to check out her running group. She pitched it as a running group for people who don’t run!  “We’ll see,” I thought. I decided to go once.

The coach was warm, welcoming and full of encouragement.  “You are all runners! You can be the slowest, the least experienced, the oldest … it doesn’t matter.  If you can run at all, you are a runner.” Clearly, she didn’t know me.

As it turned out, she knew me better than I knew myself. Eight weeks later, I ran my first 5K. And I mean, I RAN the WHOLE thing!!!  My mind was blown!!! If I could actually RUN, what else was possible?  And why in the world had I so completely embraced that I was “just not a runner”?

A year later, I tripped across the answer in Kimberly Davis’s book, Brave Leadership.  Davis shared a story very similar to mine, and highlighted an insightful gem from psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.  Dr. Dweck believed that we filter the messages we receive during childhood through either a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.

People using a growth mindset believe that qualities like intelligence, personality and physical ability can be developed and improved upon. If I am not a runner at 6, I can study, practice and improve in that area.  I am just not a runner yet.

On the other hand, those using a fixed mindset believe that development is static.  We either have it or we don’t.  If I am a runner at 6, I am a runner forever. It is who I am. If I am not a runner at 6, I am not a runner. Period.

A fixed mindset short circuits our ability to express our unique one-of-a-kind selves in the world. In regards to my running ability, I had a fixed mindset.  That I was not a runner was my truth. But, it was not the truth.

God alone knows the whole truth about who we are … and are becoming. He thoughtfully and purposefully crafted each of us to fit perfectly into a unique space in this world.

In Romans 12:2, the apostle Paul writes, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

In other words, resist the temptation to pattern your mindset after the evidence you gather from your limited experience in the world. Because we can unconsciously fall into a fixed mindset, seek God first and foremost in all things.  He can – and will – transform your way of thinking when you fully submit yourself to Him, both through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, and through reading and meditating on His Word found in the Bible. Both God and His will are good, pleasing and perfect. The Life Application Bible Commentary on this verse says, “Believers who are being transformed, who know and do God’s will, also discover that what God plans for them is good, pleasing to God, and perfect for them.” God’s will for your life is uniquely perfect for YOU!

In what area of your life have you unconsciously embraced a fixed mindset? What if your own mind has placed a roadblock on the road God is calling you to run?

Dear friends, seek always God’s good, pleasing and perfect will for your one and only unique life. Don’t conform. Renew your mind. Read your Bible with the Holy Spirit … and maybe, just maybe, check out a running group!