It’s Time to Settle This
We have some things to straighten out, my friend. The past is not doomed to be your future.
You know me, I’m all about helping you become healthier, feel better, and be happier.
But I woke up this morning worried about you, and your ability to do those things to improve your life.
Remember: you can’t change your life until you change your mind, and we need to get something cleared up.
So today on the YST podcast, we’re going to get real, go deep, and settle this.
Are you ready? I hope so, because it’s time to start today.
Welcome to You Start Today, the weekly podcast for real life change. If you’re ready to become healthier, feel better, and be happier in your mind, body, spirit, work and relationships, keep coming back every week. And every day, start today.
I’m Dr. Lee Warren, a brain surgeon slash writer who knows that life is harder than brain surgery. I’ve been on the ropes, but I’ve learned the secrets of not just surviving the war of life, but how to thrive. You can too, but you have to start today. And I know you can do it: it’s not brain surgery.
This is Episode 065: Let’s Settle This.
You can’t change your life until you change your mind. Sometimes you need a brain surgeon to help you do that. Let’s go.
I woke up this morning thinking about you, my friend.
I know, you’re thinking, “How can you be thinking about me? You can’t possibly know who’s listening to this right now.”
Well, you’re partly right. I can’t possibly know the name of everyone who will download this episode or where or when they will listen to it. This episode will be downloaded in over thirty countries and using thirty or more apps, in every state of the USA, and in every hour of every day. So, I concede that it is impossible for me to know exactly when and where YOU will be listening to this.
BUT, like I said, I woke up today thinking about you.
I believe that God communicates to us in our spirits. Look, I’m a pretty conservative Christian, and I don’t go around saying things like “God told me to say this.” Really, I believe that God mostly speaks to us through his written word, the Bible, and through the leading of the Holy Spirit.
But I am certain that he is asking me to speak this message to you, for you, today.
Before we get into it, though, let me tell you what I hate about social media.
My wife follows a lot of people on Instagram who do posts that start with a beautiful lady looking right into the camera and saying, “Hey Guys!”
One of my very favorite online personalities, a NYT bestselling writer and personal development blogger who has really changed my life with his work starts all of his posts with “Hey Guys!”
On and on it goes, people starting their posts addressing, it seems, everyone in the world.
It’s easy to understand why: addressing a group implies that you know many people are listening to you. It makes it seem like you have a large following. It makes you sound successful.
But it’s also very impersonal.
I don’t want to write books for millions of people to read, write blogs or newsletters for the whole world, or record this podcast to be listened to all over the world.
I want to talk to you.
Because, you, my friend, are worth the whole world. How do I know? Jesus said it, that Heaven rejoices when one person finds rest in him, safety in him, salvation in him. When one person makes it through. That’s in Luke 15, by the way.
You are worth the world to God.
And you’re that important to me, which is why I have to share this message with you.
Now, one thing you might ask is why me, a brain surgeon, is always talking about spiritual things. The answer is simple: I want you to become healthier, feel better, and be happier. And getting your spirit settled, figuring out the most important question in our whole lives, is the single biggest thing we can do to achieve peace of mind and clarity of purpose in this world.
Check out episode 024, You Bet Your Life, if you want the deep dive on why I’m a believer.
So, the rest of this episode assumes that you believe in God, okay? If you’re not sure, that’s okay, I’m not telling you what to believe, and settling the issues we’re about to discuss will be immensely valuable to you in your life, no matter what you believe. But if you want, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to discuss my belief in God. I’ll write you back, I promise.
Okay, here we go.
Like I said at the beginning, I woke up this morning thinking about you.
It’s a new year, and I want to make sure you aren’t dragging trouble from last year into this one.
I have a friend who struggles with letting go of yesterday.
A bad marriage, an abusive person, a major loss, all of these things have created a set of filters, lenses through which my friend views the world. There’s a constant sense of dread, of guilt, of shame, that makes every new relationship and encounter potentially hold some risk, some danger, or some sense that my friend doesn’t deserve the potential good, the blessing, the love, the opportunity they’re being offered.
Why? Because of the past.
Do you relate to my friend’s problem?
Every day, I spend some time thinking about mistakes I’ve made in the past. I beat myself up, say negative things to myself, worry that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, wise enough, whatever enough, and that maybe those things had something to do the various troubles I’ve had. Why wasn’t I stronger? Why did God let those things happen? Why why why why why?
And when I let that happen, when I allow myself to dwell back there, a huge overlay of guilt, pain, negative thought, doubt, anger at God, etc. can start to slide over my mind and my heart and it keeps me stuck, facing backwards, limits my future opportunities, hurts my present relationships, and most importantly, keeps me from starting today with the things I need to do to change my mind and change my life for the better.
And I know, when you strip everything away, all of us are very similar. My friend, me, and you all have some of the same tendencies, the same issues, and the same fears.
So today I woke up and was convinced that God was going to orchestrate this moment for you to be driving or working out or sitting at your desk and listening to this podcast and need to hear me say these words:
Yesterday is not today.
You’re not doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.
You’re not evil, you’re not guilty, and you have nothing to be ashamed of, because no matter what the past looked like, you woke up today with a super power you might not even know you possess:
The power to change.
You have a God who loves you.
And he sent you a message from thousands of years ago through a left-handed brain surgeon from Oklahoma speaking into a microphone in Wyoming in the United States to your ears and your brain and your heart right now, in this moment.
My dad, when he used to want to get my attention, used to say, “Look in my eyes. Listen to my voice when I say this.”
Sometime he would snap his fingers, just to make sure I was listening.
So, my friend, listen to me. Pretend you’re looking into my eyes and hear the message from Isaiah 1:18-20 and Psalm 103:6-18 (NIV and the Message):
18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient…
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
6-18 God makes everything come out right;
he puts victims back on their feet…
God is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset (as far as the east is from the west), he has separated us from our sins…
God’s love, though, is ever and always,
eternally present to all who fear him,
Did you get that, God says it’s time to quit looking back, and time to stop dragging stuff from last year, last month, last week, yesterday into today.
It’s time to change your mind, my friend.
Brain science teaches us one thing with absolutely no doubt: how we feel changes everything about how our lives play out, and how safe and secure we feel in our own skin as we try to navigate the present and future. But the trick is, NOTHING in your past has the power to determine how you FEEL. You get to do that, but you have to learn one important fact:
Your feelings are under your own control.
You are not destined to feel bad unless you choose to.
Listen friend, there are some things you can’t change with just adjusting your thought life. So if you’re struggling with severe depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders, GO SEE A DOCTOR. Don’t substitute my advice for that of your physician. I’m a great doctor, but I’m not YOUR doctor, okay?
But for most of us, the research is clear: How you feel is mostly determined by how you think.
So, if you choose to think about better things, you’ll feel better.
It’s not a magic trick. It’s science. It’s because your mood is determined by the neurotransmitter balance in your brain, and thinking positive thoughts improves the levels of the good stuff like dopamine and serotonin and decreases the bad stuff. See? Simple. It’s not brain surgery, except that it sort of is: changing how you think changes how your brain works, and thus changes how you feel.
All of a sudden, things seem more hopeful, more positive, the future seems brighter and the past seems farther away.
And one of the most important things you can do to change how you think is to settle the fact that God loves you, that he forgives you, that no matter what you’ve done or what’s been done to you, you’re not dirty or irreparably broken or stained or doomed to be alone or unlovable.
“Let’s settle this,” God says, “you’re white as snow” if you’ve asked him to make you so.
How far is the east from the west? That’s how far your sins, your mistakes, your past troubles, your old way of life, your bad habits, your insurmountable problems can be if you’ll buy into these simple facts:
You are greatly loved.
You have hope.
You have a future.
It’s not hard to believe, if you’ll try. It’s not calculus or differential equations or a Fibonacci sequence or rocket science, or dare I say it, but it’s also NOT BRAIN SURGERY.
You can settle on that today, my friend. But before you can change your life you have to change your mind. You have to settle this question of the past being unable to affect your future anymore.
This message isn’t for millions of people. It’s not for “you guys,” or for everyone.
It’s for you, for right now.
It’s time to settle this.
It’s time to draw a line in the sand for this year.
It’s time to start today.
If you have a question or a comment, email me via email@example.com
Remember: Life isn’t brain surgery; it’s harder. It’s a war. But even though life is hard, God is faithful. You can have the life you were created to have, but sometimes you have to be willing to tell God you’ll do anything, and you have to start today.
Hey, a lot of people have been asking me how they can get signed copies of my book, No Place to Hide. Now you can. Go to www.wleewarrenmd.com and right there on the home page you can click on my books and order them from the site! Make sure to put how you want me to sign it in the notes before you check out!
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I’m Dr. Lee Warren and you’ve been listening to YST. Be sure to subscribe via iTunes so you automatically get new episodes.
I can’t wait to talk to you next week, but you start today.
Theme Music is Blue Highway by Podington Bear, license courtesy of Creative Commons. http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Podington_Bear/Soul/Blue_Highway