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Furnish Your Mind

Updated: Apr 25

I recently heard the story of a woman who had been imprisoned in a Soviet gulag for political dissidence. She had been a scholar and professor of literature.

After serving her long sentence, she was interviewed by the great literary critic and philosopher George Steiner. He asked her how she had survived such a dark existence.

She explained that she knew many poems and could recite them from memory. She mentally translated them line by line into each of the languages she also knew. This practice filled the long, lonely hours and exercised her mind, which benefitted her mental health and mood.

Inspired by this woman's resilience, George Steiner posed the question, "With what kind of furniture is the temple of your mind furnished? What resources of memory could you draw upon in time of need."

Maybe you don't have a repertoire of poetry to call upon. But what inspiring memories do you have that can buoy you up on dark days?

What is held in the memory banks of your mind that fills you with light and hope?

If you live with a loud and persistent inner critic, the furnishings of your mind might be cluttered with the tendency to wallow on unpleasant memories; ones where you were weak or unsuccessful. Your critic will return to those memories to keep you in Victimhood; safe from risk and criticism.

But stuck in the darkness of self-loathing. Which at times, feels as hopeless as a gulag.

Your mind is always scanning for danger and filing away important information. You will need to intentionally and compassionately bring to the forefront the bright and enlightening memories you have.

Just as the Russian prisoner turned each word of every poem over in her mind to help her thrive despite her situation, choose to focus on each individual moment where you were cheerful, alive, and contributing; The moments when love was expressed and forgiveness was served. See the colors, hear the laughter, feel the light and hope.

Furnish your mind with the things that speak to your soul and when you need them, your soul will bring them back to you.

And moving forward, Purposefully fill your mind with information that will create beautiful "furnishings"; great writing, inspiring cinema, connecting conversation and powerful music.

Furnish your mind with quality inventory that will serve you now as well as in the future.

Some of my favorite furnishings:

2 Tim 1:7, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Remembering the first time I saw each of my babies

The music from Les Miserables

When my oldest daughter and I attempted to save a baby bird

My daughters' weddings

2009 trip to the Oregon Coast

Remodeling the basement with my husband

Thinking of my grandchildren

Playing Pictionary and Sorry at our family cabin

The last 3 days of my mother's life

Focusing on these memories makes me feel joyful and moves me forward!

Simply noticing when I'm looping in hopeless or victimhood memories reminds me that I can re-write their stories in life-giving ways: searching for lessons learned and qualities built.

Furnish your mind with the things that speak to your soul and when you need them, your soul will bring them back to you.



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