Had a conversation with someone today about the conversations we have with ourselves. I don’t know about you but the conversations I can have with myself can get pretty wacked. The things we tell ourselves – and worse yet – the things we LISTEN to that we tell ourselves – have power to harm or to help. I think mine have tended to harm more than help. Up until now that is.
Truth can be such an elusive quest. Pontius Pilate couldn’t even figure it out. Jesus is on trial for his life – literally – and Pilate is grilling Him about His kingdom. Jesus says “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Pilate questions Him again and Jesus says “…For this reason I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” OK – if that doesn’t confuse you about what truth is I don’t know what will!
Let’s take an example. Let’s say something happened to you and you’re not even sure how to describe it to someone else, so you don’t. A friend needed to talk and entrusted you with very personal stuff which made you late for an important family event. When you get there people get mad because of their assumptions about what you were doing (blowing off the event because you weren’t excited about it), but because you have can’t communicate what happened you just go with it. And people respond based on their assumptions, and in essence those assumptions are saying you did something wrong. They wouldn’t trust you if you COULD tell them, so why try? You get in trouble because someone thinks you did something wrong and because you won’t refute the statement you keep your mouth shut. Some may call that taking the bullet for a friend. Whatever you want to call it, somehow the reaction leaves an indelible impression on you for years that you never fully realize. You think your family doesn’t trust you or believe what you say and over the years it effects your family relationships.
Fast forward those years and you begin to slowly realize that one incident really affected you in ways you never imagined. It became the foundation upon which you built so much of your belief system – about God, about others, about yourself – and now someone else comes along and starts challenging that belief system. You are hit in the face that your foundation has been sand and you never knew it. Now your whole world is rocked trying to figure out what’s right , what’s wrong, what do you have to rethink, and what do you have to rebuild. What you thought was truth may end up being a lie. One big, fat, life-time lie. You feel like you’re holding a bag of something and you have to put the pieces back together again. You need a new foundation.
So you start building. You’ve torn down your faulty belief system and now it’s time to rebuild. But where do you start? At the beginning. I’m not trying to be a smart mouth. I’m just speaking truth. You start at the very point where things started to go offline, even though you didn’t realize it. You start with the incident and you start talking to yourself – not in the old way, the now comfortable and familiar way. You have to learn a new language (and I’m not talking Spanish). You have to learn to speak truth against all the lies of the enemy.
Let’s take the example. You’ve bought the lie that you’re to blame for messing up the important family event 25 years ago and your family has never forgiven you and that’s the reason the relationships are strained today. But instead of telling yourself ‘it’s my fault’, your new language is to tell yourself ‘it’s not my fault.’ YOU did not single handedly ruin anything. People’s assumptions fed into it and you are not responsible for what other people assume. (you know what they say when you assume…..’). They could’ve trusted that you weren’t just blowing off family but instead trusted you that something very important must have come up and they trust you to keep a confidence so it’s OK if you can’t talk about it.
And you build from there. You have to convince yourself that it’s not your fault and that you are trustworthy. You may have to go so far as to literally SPEAK it to yourself – have that one-way conversation with yourself out loud so you HEAR the words instead of just think the words. You may need to go a further step and look yourself in the mirror – right in the eyes – to HEAR and SEE yourself speak truth to yourself. Whatever it takes you need to start somewhere. You might want to say ‘but I don’t believe it.’ OK…not yet. But you can’t let that stop you. You HAVE to start. To fail to start is to continue to fail. You have a choice to make. As my former pastor Chuck used to tell me, ‘right feelings follow right behavior.’ So start. Now.
It’s a battle. And that’s not just a metaphor. It’s a spiritual battle, and God’s given you what you need to fight. Ephesians 6:17 gives it to you: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (see the rest of the ‘uniform’ in Ephesians 6:12-18). It won’t change overnight. You’ll get more opposition and be tempted to quit before you really even start. Don’t think the enemy of your soul is going to let you go without a fight (there’s that speaking truth thing again). But God has given you EVERYTHING you need to fight. He’s given you a shield of faith with which to extinguish ALL the flaming arrows of the evil one (Eph. 6:16).
I’m speaking to myself as much as I’m speaking to you. I have a lot of ‘rewiring’ to do in my head. What I need are people who will speak truth to me.
I love the lyrics to the old hymn ‘Wonderful Words of Life’. “Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life; let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life; words of life and beauty, teach me faith and duty.”
Speak words of life to me please. I need them just as much as the next person as I’m rebuilding my foundation, too. Let’s build together.
Here’s my word of life to myself today. Maybe it should be for you, too: IT’S NOT MY FAULT! Let God love you, hug you, heal you, and rebuild you. He’s big enough. He’s got it – and you – covered!