Thursday, February 16, 2017

Transforming My Mind One Telephone Pole at a Time

Post by: Nicole Stegink

I believe in the concept of synchronicity. Psychoanalyst Carl Jung explained synchronicity as “events [that] are meaningful coincidence if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.” There could be long discussions on whether synchronicity really is just random chance or if it’s some phenomenon of science or nature, but for me when it happens, it’s a God moment. It’s God reaching out to me or instructing me through a set of seemingly unrelated messages that merge in some way to alter my thought patterns, re-direct me toward Him and help me recognize His will for me. I recently experienced a moment of synchronicity when a text conversation I had with a friend, an old photograph I had taken and a quote I like converged and caused an epiphany of sorts.

In one of my previous blogs, I wrote about how I navigated my way through my own painful divorce by connecting to God through photography. Since then I have discovered God delivers many of his messages to me through pictures I have taken. And sometimes it takes one of His acts of synchronicity, such as this story, for the veil to lift and my mind to be transformed.

My friend went through a divorce a few months ago. He expressed some of the challenges of achieving balance between work, being a single dad to four children and finding time to heal and practice self-care. In this particular conversation he was without his children for the weekend, and struggling with a few things: fatigue, motivation and whether he deserved to take time for himself. His brain desired to get up early and go do an outdoor activity; his body wanted to sleep in the next morning; he heart questioned whether indulging in a “me day in the mountains” was selfish. The only thing I could think of to help him was to send him two things: a passage from Brendon Burchard’s book “Life’s Golden Ticket” which speaks to being present in your own life and a photograph I had taken a couple of years ago.

I had taken a photograph of a sunrise from my backyard, and I thought maybe if I sent my friend this photo it would inspire him to get up early. A kind of “see what you miss when you don’t get up early.” Part of me didn’t want to send the photo, because while the colors of the sunrise in the photo are stunning, there is a huge, unsightly utility pole featured prominently in the frame. It has always really annoyed me because my backyard is bookended on the east and west sides by large utility poles. Every sunrise and sunset picture taken from my backyard -- and believe me, there are hundreds -- is not without wooden poles, wires and cables interfering with view.

So I sent a text of the book passage. Then I sent the photo. Finally, I sent a text with my own message that taking time to recharge is not selfish, that practicing self-care is one of the healthiest things we can do and that maybe the words and my photo would inspire him to wake up early and head to a place that would restore his soul. He responded, “When I first looked at the photo, I saw a cross and a beautiful sky – which is always an inspiration. Then when I read your text, I was shocked that you took this picture and realized I was looking at a telephone pole! How cool is that?”

And in that moment of reading his response synchronicity happened for me. My mind instantly recalled one of my favorite Thoreau quotes, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” That quote, the photograph, and my friend’s reply all wove together and suddenly took on meaning. How had I not seen it? I had put so much focus on being irritated with what I was LOOKING at that I didn’t SEE. Clothed in my own earthly concerns and biases, my brain misdirected my heart and soul. I made the telephone pole be the thing that mattered to the point it inhibited my ability to see the cross. I had been looking with just my eyes so therefore, I was closed off to seeing with faith. That thought led my mind down a path of transformation, recognizing our human tendency to look rather than to see. I wondered if the Bible could offer any insight on this important matter of observation and perspective.

Researching passages in the Bible brought me to two verses: Romans 12:2 and Colossians 3:2. In the New International Version Romans 12:2 states, “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.” I also like the New Living Translation version which states, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

No doubt this passage means different things to different people, but for me it essentially explains the dichotomy between looking and seeing. I equate “Looking” as the part in Romans about being conformed to the patterns of the world. It is being rooted in our own minds, in our own perspectives, in our own problems, in our own worldviews, without the ability to open ourselves up to receive God’s will and God’s grace. There is potential to place more importance on our own take on things than God’s. “Seeing” is the part in Romans about being transformed by the renewing of your mind. It is changing our thinking, replacing human truth with God’s truth. And once we transform our minds in this way, we no longer look with human perspective, we see with God’s perspective.

Is there an area in your life where you are stuck? Where you have been “looking” and not “seeing”? Is there a way you can let go of this world and allow yourself to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” so that you can “see” God’s good and pleasing and perfect will for you?

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. – Colossians 3:2

Nicole Stegink is a Colorado native and currently lives in Arvada.  She is active in the music ministry of BUMC, singing for both the traditional & 505 services and has been a member of the church since 2010.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Creative Writing but currently works in the legal field and doesn’t get to exercise her writing skills as often as she would like which is why she is excited to be contributing to the church’s blog. 

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