We were finally pregnant and had no idea that we were walking into years of heartache.
Tiffany, my wife, bought a bib that said, “World’s Greatest Grandpa” and brought it to dinner.
We had it all planned out: her dad would open the package, look confused for a moment, and his famously big smile would light up the room as he realized we were pregnant.
That’s exactly what happened, then the joy faded out of his eyes.
While we had come to tell him we were pregnant, he had come to tell us he had brain cancer and only three months left to live. We both felt like we had just been gut-punched.
Nine months after her birth the Chief of Neurology told us that our baby, Payton, only had ten percent of her brain function. She would never go on to walk or talk. I can still hear the echo of his footsteps down the hall as my world fell into a black tunnel.
That’s when depression took hold.
At rock bottom, we were both over 300 pounds and hope was in short supply. As Tiffany often says, “I was thirty-one years old and felt like I was 100.”
The problem was that we were waiting for things to change so we could change. Surprisingly, the change had to start not with our hands (what we do), but with our heads (how we think).
How To Change Your Mindset
Almost 2,000 years ago, the Apostle Paul gave us the blueprint for this kind of shift in thinking in Romans 12:2:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
In today’s terms, we call this renewed mind a mindset. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck defines mindset as:
“a set of beliefs that shape how you make sense of the world and yourself. It influences how you think, feel, and behave in any given situation.”
Surprise, surprise… Modern research supports biblical truth.
Our mindsets determine our behavior and our behavior determines our outcomes. What you think is what you get.
For Tiffany and I, our radical life change began with three mindset shifts:
- We partnered with desperation as our ally
- We saw it’s bigger than us
- We bet the farm on God
Mindset Shift #1: Make Desperation Your Ally
When you are desperate you will find a way.
You and I are capable of much more than we think. But sometimes, it takes hitting rock bottom to find that desperation-fueled grit you’ve never unlocked before.
I remember sitting on the couch watching a weight-loss TV show with four chili dogs on my lap.
I didn’t want to be over three hundred pounds, that’s for sure. But I wasn’t in enough pain—enough desperation—to ditch the chili dogs I buried my feelings with.
Being desperate isn’t about feeling bad about how things are, that’s hopelessness. Rather, being desperate is a mindset that says, “I am ready to do anything it takes.”
That mindset shift came into full effect when we focused on who needed us most.
Mindset Shift #2: We Saw It’s Bigger Than Us
Tiffany and I, like pretty much every parent, would have said that we’d die for our kids. The problem was, they didn’t need us to die for them—they needed us to live for them.
We weren’t determined enough to get healthy (physically and emotionally) for ourselves, but our children needed us. That was the spark.
We had twins in diapers and Payton needed us for literally everything, she couldn’t even roll over without our help. Once you lift your eyes above your own problems and pain you see that you have been called by God to care for more than yourself.
That lit a fire in us.
My friend, there are people in your life who need you to be your best self so that they can be theirs.
Mindset Shift #3: We Bet The Farm On God
God truly will use everything for good. I cannot emphasize this enough. With God’s grace, the very things that almost killed us gave us life. And this is why you’ll constantly hear me say: “There is beauty in the broken.”
Payton needed us. What once was a source of depression became fuel for my purpose.
Often true growth comes as you walk through the dark valleys of hard times. Our story might seem rare, but it doesn’t have to be. So many people give up too soon.
Your Stepping Stones
God will use the hard things as stepping stones for what’s next.
That’s not exactly a warm, fuzzy message. Because disappointment and depression are anything but fun. However, it’s true.
Our lives radically changed when we shifted our mindsets. And I know yours can too.
For more on our transformation story, mindset shifts, and practical tools to move forward in life, you can grab a copy of my new book, here!