I Want To Change But I Don’t Know How

Morning friend,

I’d love to give you all a challenge for the month of March. There are 31 days in March and 31 chapters in Proverbs. If you are lacking wisdom or struggling with toxic and destructive people, you will gain a wealth of wisdom from this book. Each day read one chapter. Read it out loud to yourself. Pray and ask God to show you what’s important for YOU to pay attention to. Write it down, and then commit to doing it. Day by day, word by word, you will grow in wisdom and strength. 

Share in the blog what God is showing you. I’d love to hear.

This week’s question: I am enjoying studying and reading your responses in this blog. It’s breathing fresh air into my thinking. My question is, how does one truly apply God’s truth to their life after 24 years of being told the same “lies” day after day?

I want so badly to think new things about myself, God and even life, but I don’t know how to think otherwise. I also think this is why I have a harder time with my journey with Christ. In my mind he’s a man almost like the others I’ve known. I’m afraid to fully open up out loud to Jesus because of trust issues if this makes sense, so how do I get past the fears? Thank you for listening.

Answer: I think many women (and men) can resonate with your feelings of being stuck in your old familiar way of thinking, feeling, and living. Those familiar beliefs are comfortable and sometimes easier to believe than God’s truth. Even those who think they believe God’s truth are sometimes in for a shock when they realize that some of what they have believed (such as God hates all divorce), isn’t true. Those words were never in the original manuscripts. King James translated it that way, and more recent translations have corrected that error. (see article: https://margmowczko.com/divorce-malachi-2/)

It gets complicated when you’ve believed and lived a certain way for a long time. Change is difficult and sometimes scary, and it takes intentional effort on your part to break those patterns and develop new ones. Hard? Yes. Impossible? No.

God’s desire for you is for you to enter into a trusting relationship with Him. That’s why he sent Jesus, to show you what God is like and to rescue you from the dominion of darkness and bring you to the kingdom of light.

He promises you that he will not lie, he will not fail you, and he will not leave you. But nothing inside you changes if you don’t believe him. Therefore, this process of change begins with your decision to believe what God says. For any one of us to grow and change, we must take an active role in putting off our “old patterns (read Ephesians 4:18-31), renewing our mind and being transformed (new patterns) by God’s truth (Romans 12:2).

But your question is how do you move from where you are (stuck in fear and lies for 24 years) to walking and living in the truth consistently? I’m encouraged by John’s words to his followers when he said, “I have no greater joy than to see that you are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4). And there is no fear in love, God’s love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18). Read it again. Ask yourself: Can I believe this? If not, why not? Jesus tells us all that the work of God for us is to believe what God says over our own thoughts and feelings. (John 6:29). (And sometimes it’s hard work as the young father said when he told Jesus, “I do believe. Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:23-26).

Friend, this is God’s will for you – to learn to walk in God’s truth. To train yourself to be godly (1 Timothy 4:6-8). Notice the word is train, not try. Training is following a consistent program for transformation over time. Trying is giving it a shot and giving up if you don’t see immediate results.

To train: First, decide to take ownership of your problem. You said your problem now is you aren’t where you want to be spiritually, or emotionally. You live afraid and in lies and don’t want to continue that pattern.

It’s always easy to lay the blame for this problem on other people. For example, your parents who failed you, a husband who abused or abandoned you, friends that let you down or hurt you, and people who should have taken care of you but didn’t. And it’s true. People have let you down and now it’s hard for you to trust Jesus or even God.

This decision to take ownership or responsibility for your problem is not a feeling – it is a choice. Making that choice even when still feeling afraid will be life-changing for you because once you do, the path forward becomes much clearer. On the other hand, when you stay living with a victim mindset (people messed me up) and are afraid to move forward, then you continue to feel powerless to change.

Now please do not misunderstand. I’m not denying that people in your life didn’t mess you up or hurt you or break your trust. I’m sure they did. But those people aren’t in charge of your life anymore, you are. They cannot determine how you ultimately feel about yourself or what steps you take or don't take to get well. Even if they wanted to help you now, it’s still up to you to do the work. They can’t do it for you. That’s why you must develop a new mindset, and become convinced, “this is my work to do if I want to get healthy.” 

Once you make that decision to train, then there are different ways you can learn how to think differently and live differently. Here’s an analogy that you may find helpful. 

Let’s say that as a kid your parents fed you horribly. Lots of processed foods were your choices, and you became an adult who now has multiple problems with your health. You have diabetes, your cholesterol is high, your joints ache and you’re not able to participate in the things you enjoy because of your body isn’t functioning as it could. But eating this way is all you know. It’s your pattern. You have no idea how to regain a healthy body or even how to eat healthy food.

It would be tempting and easy to blame your parents and family for the “way you are now.” And even if that’s true, they can’t help you now. Only you can help yourself now. But you won’t help yourself if you stay stuck in feeling angry that they didn’t train you to eat healthily as a child. That thinking keeps you in a victim mindset and it’s prevalent in our culture. The only chance you have to get a grip on your health now is to take ownership of your health, your eating habits, and your exercise habits, and work hard to change them, so that over time you can experience a healthier body. 

Once you decide that, there are many different eating and exercise plans for you to lower your sugar and cholesterol levels, but it won’t happen overnight and it takes an entire lifestyle change for you to have long-term success.

In a similar way, when your mind is filled with a lot of lies about your personhood, your worth, and your abilities; lies about God, lies about other people, and lies about what’s going on around you, you can’t be healthy and will not function well.

But no one can do the work of renewing your mind with God’s truth but you. No one can take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ but you. No one but you can guard your heart, which is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

And if you choose not to do that, if you are not regularly practicing and being intentional about these things (training), then understand what will happen to you. God tells us that as sinful, limited, human beings our default mode is that we naturally exchange the truth for God for a lie. (Romans 1:25). Our minds and our emotions will not naturally gravitate toward God’s truth. 

As Christians, Jesus tells us that he gives us an internal GPS, who will guide us in all truth (John 16:13). This guide, the Holy Spirit, teaches us how to “see” things that we might not naturally see and how to think about things in new ways.

We start our 3-month group coaching program Walking in Core Strength in a few weeks that can help you train yourself in godliness. CORE stands for the four main areas of training:

C = Courageously committed to truth. You must identify the beliefs you have that are untrue or half true and learn how to do that on a regular basis because Satan aims to confuse and deceive you. (John 8:44)

O= Open to the Holy Spirit and wise others who help you gain self-awareness and self-knowledge. You cannot change what you do not see (Hebrews 3:13). We are never designed to train or grow in isolation or alone. Training always works best with a group of like-minded people who have the same goals and are training with you.

R = Responsible for yourself and respectful towards others without dishonoring your own self. Self-stewardship is a mandate of training in the Christian life, yet often it has been seen as selfish (especially for women). If you don’t take responsibility for your own safety, growth, health, and well-being as an adult person, who will?

Part of taking that responsibility is learning how to handle your own negative emotions when evil and foolish people harm you. You can’t change them but you must learn how to manage your own self. If we want to become more like Jesus, we feel our honest feelings (as Jesus did), and we also choose to treat people with respect because despite their deformity in sin, they are still God’s image bearers. God calls us to not be overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

E = Empathic and Compassionate towards others without enabling their sinful behaviors to continue to harm you or your children. When toxic people harm you it’s tempting to get toxic and destructive yourself. Empathy and compassion train you to love your enemy while having good boundaries. Proverbs 11:17 cautions “Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you.”

Training yourself to be godly is a mandate to grow into maturity. If you’d like to join our Walking in Core Strength group coaching program, there are a few spots left. Click here for more information.

Friend, what have you done to help you break long-standing habit patterns of lies and been transformed by God’s truth?

9 Comments

  1. Caroline Abbott on March 1, 2023 at 12:55 pm

    I love your response Leslie. Yes, it IS possible to change, and you have some great resources for helping people do this. I have personally found immense help through counseling with a therapist who uses Internal Family Systems. Sometimes individual counseling makes all the difference. https://carolineabbott.com/2021/04/why-we-do-the-things-we-do/

  2. Angie on March 2, 2023 at 8:29 am

    I love all of what Leslie shared. She has been a wonderful resource of truth through her resources that are Biblically based and follow the heart of God. Another resource that has helped me immensely is the book “Winning the War in You Mind” by Craig Groeschel. He guides you step by step as you learn to recognize the lies you believe and then replace them with the truth from God’s Word. He explains scientifically how we can retrain our brains when we do this. It’s fascinating and it works! The practice of replacing lies with God’s truth has been so life-giving and freeing for me! I highly recommend this book to you. God is with you each step on your healing journey. His desire is for each of us us to live life to the full – free from these lies that keep us stuck, hurt, and defeated. I am praying for you today. ❤️

  3. Jessica Arthur on March 2, 2023 at 9:47 am

    Wonderful…..so helpful.

  4. Connie on March 2, 2023 at 2:28 pm

    One lie that I believed is that the Bible is like a book of magic incantations. You repeat a verse or two over and over, and that’s how you change, yourself or another. I felt unworthy most of my life, and I did this over and over. Tacked the verse on the mirror, etc. Then one day I looked in the mirror and asked God what He thought of me. In the next few days everything changed. Reading the Bible is knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but grace edifies. I think we want to be in control in one way or another. We can change ourselves if we follow yet another set of rules. 2 Cor. 3:6. The law kills, but the Spirit gives life. Confession means giving words to the truth. Now I tell God what troubles me, and ask Him all the questions. Yes, I read and memorize the Bible, but when I ask the questions, the Spirit drops one of those scriptures, or a hymn, or a story, or just a deep knowing in my heart. Let’s not make it too complicated. Jesus is our everything, our counselor, husband, brother, friend….I like to read posts and books and listen to podcasts, but I don’t stress it, and trust the Spirit to give life to the right stuff and spit out the pits. There are pits in all this information, we can fall right back into legalism SO easily. Be still and KNOW. Enter into rest.

    • Abby on March 2, 2023 at 10:55 pm

      Beautifully said!

    • Leslie Vernick on March 3, 2023 at 12:02 am

      Thanks Connie, beautifully said. I’m a how to I get from here to there kind of person so I can tend to complicate things that could be explained in more simple ways.

  5. Abby on March 2, 2023 at 10:51 pm

    I find this response to be very reliant on our own human strength. I hate to say it but a “pull your self up by your boot strap” mentality. When people have failed you over and over, when you desire for change and literally do everything in your power to not repeat last mistakes, take good care of yourself, read the bible, belong to a support group, pray, turn your life around but still find yourself struggling to believe in God and trust Him. I think it is healthy to say I need other peoples help, yet no one is there to help me and I have tried and nothing seems to change. If we can fix ourselves I see little room for being reliant on God. To date (38 years old) I have never had a healthy relationship with a man including my own father. I have prayed, relied on God, taken risks despite “feeling afraid” , pushed hard to be the women the women I thought God talked about in the bible, “trained myself” as you mention only to be stuck in a repeat pattern of relationships with men I could not trust (and yes I ended them because I saw they were unhealthy), I even went on to make a better life for myself becoming a nurse practitioner in psychiatry only to see things may never change. I would like to pose the question what do you do when you dont hear from God and do everything you have mentioned above … Then what do you do? Again back to your statement taking ownership, I dont blame anyone for feeling disconnected from God and yearning for trust yet never getting it. But when you see daughters going out to dinner with their fathers (which you never had) something strikes a cord that causes you to grieve what should have been. Are you proposing taking ownership such as “that is not me, stop wanting something you dont have, be happy in other things, go and make a better life for yourself?” I suppose I can be happy and grateful for my education and job BUT HOW DOES THAT EVEN COMPARE WITH KNOWING YOU ARE LOVED EVEN ONCE BY A MAN? HOW DOES THAT COMPARE WITH KNOWING YOU CAN TRUST A MAN OR GOD EVEN ONCE IN YOUR LIFE. Again I have tried everything the bible and you mention to no avail so I would agree with one statement you make… ” God help my unbelief!” That is to say I see no way out not even by my own efforts.

    • Leslie Vernick on March 3, 2023 at 12:00 am

      You’re right, you do need other people’s help. We can’t do this journey all alone. And I think sometimes our childhood wounds do leave some deep scars that make always have some sort of impact on us. I think I said that in my response but I’m so sorry your experience with people has been so disappointing. Perhaps spending a little time with the people here on this blog may encourage you (and it may also disappoint you). They do not all agree with me, but I do think they all agree that God loves you and God’s people (us) sometimes do not do a very good job showing love to one another as Christ calls us to. But we can learn and grow (if we want to). That doesn’t mean that other people won’t still disappoint us. Jesus was plenty disappointed in people. Think of Judas. Peter. And even in the garden when Jesus was pouring his heart out and asked his disciples to “watch and pray” and they fell asleep. Jesus was disappointed (and didn’t pretend he wasn’t). So people will disappoint us. And they will support and encourage us. And we need to find people who we can trust who do want to walk in the same direction we do. In that way we are more likely to get care and support (not perfection). Training in godliness is not a pull yourself up by your bootstraps mentality, it’s rather disciplining or discipling ourselves in godliness and God’s ways and that is always to be done in community with support. It can’t be done without God, but it is also us working out our own salvation (sanctification process) and training ourselves in Godliness, with the body of Christ together. So Abby, How can we best support you here?

    • Janice D on March 3, 2023 at 7:57 am

      Abby,my earthly father sexually abused me as a child…instead of protecting me,he used me for his own sick twisted need.Our Heavenly Father hates all abuse and oppression.He is my true father and I trust him to set all things right one day.I am so sorry for all your disappointments in your previous relationships.I too became a nurse ( so many caregivers come from dysfunctional backgrounds…I like to think of it as God redeeming our hurt and turning in into a way to bless others) You have so much more of life to live.I encourage you to keep your eye fixed on Jesus and his total and eternal love for you as his precious daughter. He is with you and for you. We are here for you as well.

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