My first car was not the regular 1979 but the upgraded Buick Century, the model with a spoiler on the back. And spoiler alert: your grandpa’s Buick did not have a spoiler! What color, you ask? C’mon, what color car do you think someone with my unbridled coolness would have? Brown. Yeah, my car was an ugly brown. Yes, even the spoiler.
But wait! Did I mention the eagles? My Buick Century had an eagle sticker on each side, on the quarter panels just above the front tires! Those majestic eagles were descending from flight, talons out, ready to grab a tree branch and proclaim liberty for all. And I was ready to wow the ladies as I cruised into the school parking lot.
Only one problem. No, not my eighties shaggy, almost-a-mullet hairstyle and unibrow. The problem was the factory model stock stereo system Buick had installed in the car. I couldn’t really fault them, though. Buick had no idea that I, someone as suave as Don Johnson on Miami Vice, with the dance moves of Patrick Swayze and the sheer animal magnetism of Maverick from Top Gun, would be driving their car in 1986. But I was. So I had to upgrade my ability to drive down the road with some thump-thump-thump rocking power.
I landed myself the coolest used Alpine stereo system I could find. Yes! Finally, I could blast some REO Speedwagon, some Van Halen, some one-arm-drummer Def Leppard. Now I could hear my favorite bands in full surround, supersonic, we-will-rock-you, make-my-ears-bleed, rock-your-face-off, I-can’t-drive-fifty-five, we-built-this-city-on-rock-and-roll, quadraphonic super bass sound.
There was only one problem. Spending all my money buying the stereo system meant I couldn’t afford to have it professionally installed. No, not a problem; I could install it! How hard could it be? But I was and still am technically challenged. I can barely install a piece of bread into a toaster. Putting in my new car stereo in those pre-“watch a YouTube video to learn how to do anything” days was a nightmare. After working on the install all day, I still couldn’t get the thing to work. Finally, by evening, with the eagles on my car soaring under the moon in the dark of night, I got my Alpine stereo to work! As the sun went down, the volume went up. Praise God from whom all blessings flow; He put the rock in my roll!
But the next morning, tragedy stuck. When I started my car and pushed the power button on my Alpine, I anticipated hearing a perfectly equalized version of the Police singing the stalker anthem “Every Breath You Take.” But nothing happened. My self-installed, only-gently-used stereo didn’t work. I pressed the button again. Pressed it harder. Nothing. Why?!
I could not get it to work all day long. Then, magically, that night it started working again. The next morning, dead. That night, mysteriously back to life again. Day after day, the same thing. During the day, nothing. Every night, perfect.
I figured out the pattern, but I could not find the problem. Some of you who are smarter than I was in 1986 have diagnosed the issue, haven’t you?
Why would my car stereo work only at night?
Well, what electrical device do you tend to turn on at night in your car? Bingo!
I had crossed the wires.
Instead of wiring my car stereo to the proper source of power, I had wired it to my headlights. I could crank my tunes only with the lights on. So for the rest of the life of my 1979 Buick Century (with a spoiler; did I mention the spoiler?!), I was the dude driving around at two in the afternoon with my headlights on so I could listen to Bon Jovi. Sadly, I was not livin’ on a prayer. I was livin’ on the power of my headlights.
Why does it seem like our lives aren’t working when we need them to work?
Why do we lack the power to live the way we want?
Why do we often make so many irrational and self-defeating decisions?
Why do we try so hard to change but end up doing the things we hate?
We have crossed wires.
You’ve seen it in yourself, right? I mean, why do you
- commit to stop arguing with your spouse, then keep arguing with your spouse?
- worry nonstop even though you know it’s a waste of time and makes you sick?
- exaggerate to impress others even though that’s not the kind of person you want to be?
- freak out because your credit card bill is so high, then continue to make more unnecessary purchases?
- scroll on your phone for hours instead of talking to your spouse and kids, who are sitting only a few feet away?
- decide you are going to lose weight and then find yourself grabbing a soda and candy bar when you stop to get gas?
You have crossed wires. We all do it.
The reason we make these poor decisions is because of how our brains work. So we need a solution that works with the way we think. We have to not only recognize the unhealthy patterns but also figure out the underlying problem. Stop the car, crawl under the dash, and find out what went wrong.
If we want to win the war in our minds, we have to be willing to rewire our thought patterns, rewire our brains.
Recognizing Your Ruts
In this exercise, I want you to write down any places in your life where lies have crossed your wires and created ruts in your thinking.
Whether or not you can discover where these things began, the primary goal of this exercise is to write down and face any and every harmful, hurtful rut that has been created in your mind. You are walking through a personal journey, one step at a time, that can lead you to a renewed mind and a changed life.
Excerpted with permission from Winning the War in Your Mind: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life by Craig Groeschel, copyright Craig Groeschel.
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Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
— Romans 12:2
Where are the “crossed wires” in your life? How can you begin to rely on God to help you rewire your thought patterns and renew your mind? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!