I hope you had a restful Labor Day weekend. Fall is soon to be upon us and many of you are busy, busy, busy. But are you intentional in your busyness? Are you doing what is important for LIFE or are you merely busy?
Today I just reread the article I wrote for my January newsletter entitled, The Intentional Life. It caused me to press pause and evaluate how I am living my days lately. Am I purposeful? I am busy but is my life serving a bigger purpose than merely me?
2018 is two thirds gone. I find it helpful to regularly reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m heading. How about you?
If you need some help to move out of your old ruts or some inspiration to develop new patterns in your life, I highly encourage you to join me at the 2018 CONQUER Conference, Be Brave: Grow Strong on October 12 and 13th. Prices go up October 1, so I encourage you to sign up now. Click HERE to get your ticket.
This week’s question: I am enjoying studying and reading your truths, but how does one truly apply this to their life after 24 years of being told the same “lies” day after day?
I want so badly to think otherwise of myself but I don’t know how to even train myself 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’m afraid to fully open up out loud to him because of trust issues. 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 lies are comfortable and sometimes easier to believe than the truth. And when you’ve thought and lived a certain way for a long time, it does take intentional effort on your part to break those patterns and develop new ones. Hard? Yes. Impossible? No.
The Bible confirms this process. To grow and change we must take an active role in putting off these “old patterns” (Ephesians 4:180-31), renewing our mind and being transformed (changed) by God’s truth (Romans 12:2).
But your question is how do you actually get from where you are (stuck in 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). This is God’s will for you – to learn to walk in the truth.
First, you need to decide to take ownership of your problem. Your problem is that you aren’t where you want to be spiritually, or emotionally. You live afraid and in lies. It’s 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, 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 of your problem will be life changing for you. Because once you do, the path forward becomes much clearer. On the other hand, when you stay living in a victim mindset (people messed me up) 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 an owner’s mindset, and tell yourself “this is my work to do if I want to get healthy.”
Once you make that decision, 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 and you became an adult who now has a significant weight problem and it’s costing you 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 health and weight. But eating this way is all you know. It’s your pattern. You have no idea how to regain a healthy body or eat better.
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 you now. But you won’t help yourself if you are stuck in a state of being mad that they didn’t feed you right as a child. That is a victim mindset and it’s pretty prevalent in our culture. The only chance you have to get a grip on your health is to take ownership of your weight problem, your eating habits and to work hard to change them so that you can experience a healthier body.
Once you decide that, then there are many different eating and exercise plans for you to lose the weight, 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 lots of lies such as 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 aren’t healthy and can’t 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. Click To Tweet
But if you don’t know how to do that and aren’t regularly practicing and being intentional about these things, then you need to understand what will happen to you. As human beings, our default mode is that we naturally exchange the truth for God for a lie. (Romans 1:25).
Our minds or our emotions don’t naturally gravitate towards the truth. Because of sin, their default mode is corruption and our destruction. Yet as Christians, Jesus tells us that we have 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 a new way.
So here is an example from my book, How to Live Right When Your Life Goes Wrong. I call it The TRUTH Principle and it will help you be intentional so that you can learn to walk through the how to’s of renewing your mind.
The TRUTH Principle uses a simple acronym T.R.U.T.H. to help you remember the process of taking every thought captive and learning to walk in God’s truth, even when your own thoughts or your emotions are not always in agreement.
T. Gain a new perspective on the Troubles that God allows in your life. Instead of seeing trials as obstacles to be removed, you will begin to see them as opportunities to know God better and trust Him more. So when life is difficult, instead of asking God why me, ask God what are you supposed to learn so that you can deal with this difficulty or trouble in a more mature or godly way.
R. Come to better understand your Responses to those troubles. How are you feeling, thinking and behaving in the midst of your difficulties? Self-awareness of the lies you believe is key. Often we blame others for our response but Jesus tells us our responses to life come out of what’s going on in our heart (Luke 6:45). Are you growing to handle hardship like God would want you to? If not, then there is work here for you to do. You may need outside help – a counselor or coach to help you feel safe or to gain greater self-awareness without toxic shame or self-hatred for seeing the things about yourself that are hard.
U. Uncover the Underlying idols that hamper your efforts to change. God created us as worshippers and wants to be our first love. But often our heart is attached to other loves and we worship the wrong things. We want our way, we want people to approve of us, or love us like we want them to. We want power or control over our life or other people. When we don’t get what we want, and we fall apart, it reveals that our heart was attached to other “loves” which the Bible calls idols (Jonah 2:8).
T. Learn to discern the Truth of God’s Word. Our culture is obsessed with situational ethics and personal reality and feelings but Jesus said that he is the Truth and He was telling us the truth. When our thoughts and feelings are contrary to God’s Word, who wins? We can’t live both like the daughter of the King and an orphan at the same time. We will either live in one world or the other depending on whose reality (truth) we trust.
H. Develop a Heart’s response that draws you closer to the heart of God. Seeing the truth doesn’t profit us if it doesn’t change us. James 1:22 warns us that if we only listen to the truth, but don’t do what it says, we deceive ourselves. Surrendering our mind, our emotions and our will to God’s truth places us in alignment with the TRUTH. The more we choose to do this and practice it, the more transformation we will see in our mind, heart, and life.
Begin walking through these 5 steps as soon as you encounter a difficulty in life. As you grow to see life’s problems through the lens of God’s eternal perspective and you walk yourself through these five steps, your faith begins to be transformed from head knowledge to heart-based trust and your mind will begin to be renewed with God’s truth.
Friends, how have you broken long-standing habit patterns of lies and been transformed by God’s truth?