Towards the beginning of this semester, we had the honor to hear from Dr. JP Moreland. The distinguished professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University shared his knowledge of spiritual formation. With a rise in anxiety and depression unlike any generation has experienced, Dr. Moreland introduced solutions to combat anxiety including consistent prayer and identifying our habits of negative self-talk.
Dr. Moreland presented overgeneralization and emotional reasoning as two of the cognitive traps that are common amongst self-talk. Through his own experience with depression and anxiety, he offered tools to help us navigate the parts of anxiety and depression which are learned habits. If something can be learned, by nature, it can, therefore, be unlearned with the right practices and techniques. Repetition is the key ingredient to developing or disabling a habit. Dr. Moreland stated the brain and heart contain anxiety without the individual’s choosing.
For our generation, where many of our lives are affected by depression and anxiety, personally or through those in our lives, it is fortunate that God designed our brains with the ability to grow and change. Neuroplasticity is the ability to change our neuropathways in order to form new habits of thought.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalms 139:24-26
This verse had a huge impact on me because it reinforces the truth that there is no one who knows our hearts as Jesus does. With His power, we can transform our minds to function in a healthy way that glorifies God. I personally took what Dr. Morland said to heart. Growing up in a culture that has been so deeply shaped by anxiety and depression, I can see the need for the truth that Dr. Morland brought more than ever.