Have you ever heard people say that they don’t want to be like someone they know? You probably have. People say that they don’t want to be like their parents, their boss, their neighbor, or someone else they know. The funny thing is, though, the more they try to not be like that person, the more they actually become like them.  

I need to admit that have said the same things. There are people I don’t want to be like. When I focus on not being like them, I have found that I’ve developed some of the very same characteristics that I’m trying to avoid. I believed that rehearsing the wounds I received and then trying not to wound others was the best way to heal and grow. Instead, rehearsing wounds gives hurt the power to reshape us to be wounded people with responses we don’t want to have.

God made our minds to remember and rehearse and He intends on using our minds to bring about spiritual growth in our lives. When we focus our efforts on not being like someone else, we actually reinforce the characteristics of that person as a result of all the time that we think about them.

I’ve been thinking about how I remember and rehearse my thoughts. I’ve come to realize that I have the choice to remember and rehearse thoughts that move me forward or to use my thoughts to keep me wounded. The Scripture tells us that we can set our minds in a godly way and when we do, we can expect real change and healing.  We are to set our minds on kingdom truths and values which is what Paul meant when he wrote for us to set our minds on the “things above where Christ is” (Col. 3:1). When I learned to set my mind, I found that my mental and spiritual energy joined the work of the Holy Spirit to bring about change in my life.   

I have discovered that setting my mind on the things above is an important part of following Jesus. When I set my mind to follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit unleashes powerful change and His work in me is more effective for growth than me not trying be like someone else. Maybe this is why Jesus said over and over again, “Follow Me.”  He knows the power that is given to us when we do.  

Sometimes following Jesus is hard for me. Honestly, I don’t always know what to do to follow Him and I’m not always sure exactly how to set my mind. For example, I’m not always sure how to forgive people in the ways that the Bible tells me to.  

Fortunately, we have been given godly people to follow in addition to following Jesus. When I am unsure of what to do to follow Jesus, I look to another person who is following Jesus in the exact way I need help. Then, I do my best to think and respond in the same way.

One of the people I look to for this kind of help is my mother-in-law, June Schipper. She just turned 92 and she has spent her entire life listening to the gospel, embracing it, and living it out by asking herself, “How can I follow Jesus in a real way?” 

I have seen June forgive the same people over and over for their hurtful actions and comments. I’ve seen her go the extra mile to care for people who don’t respond with thankfulness. I’ve seen her loyal forgiving love for my father-in-law who passed in 2016. I’ve seen her unselfishly serve in the church until age 88 when she finally decided it was time to step down from the worship team. 

She has shown me how I can keep forgiving the same people over and over, keep love people who are not thankful, keep living a life of love and forgiveness as a husband, and keep serving the church even when it’s difficult. She has lived a life of forgiveness and I can follow her example when I’m not sure how to forgive. If she did it, I can, too! Her example of following Jesus’ life of forgiving others has never let me down.

Now, instead of focusing my energy on trying not to be like someone who has hurt me, I focus on following Jesus as well as the people who are following Him. Doing so has been the catalyst of godly change in my life. So, I no longer concerned about not being like someone else when I am learning how to be changed to be more like the amazing person of Jesus and those I admire who follow him.

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