“This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11 NIV
Today was a good day. There were smiles and yes, even joy. She speaks about Thanksgiving and the gathering of her family with ease. It was a good experience even with a few of the past reminders of difficult times but she pushed through determined to keep a positive spirit in the day. The new behaviors she was choosing were working and now she was seeing her own truth recognized and respected. It had been a gradual deepening of knowledge and insight over what had seemed like a long period of time.
“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.” Romans 12:2 NIV
I believe that only truth renews the mind and this gradual renewal changes our direction to be in line with God’s direction for us. In Philippians 1:9 “discerning what is best” is our spiritual process of deciding what truth is. Our personal truth or core beliefs about ourselves formed while we were growing up came predominately from those who were in an authority position in our lives we trusted. So our core beliefs do not necessarily mean they are the truth, they may be someone else’s misguided version of what they think is the truth. There is one good way of determining what truth is. Children are especially good at figuring this out: What someone espouses is truth if the person practices it in their own life and it grows and multiplies in a positive way elevating the lives of others. It is truth if it is selflessly centered in love. The “pattern of this world” mentioned in Romans 12:2 is something we all need to recognize. Every waking hour of every day, we must decide what truth is for us. It’s not always a dramatic “ah hah” moment but can be nonetheless a defining one for us.
How do the Scriptures teach us to know the truth? Isaiah prophesies of the impact of Christ coming: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2 NIV
Matthew confirms the fulfillment of this prophecy: “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Matthew 4:16 NIV
In the book of John it states: “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (13 He was born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. KJV) John 1:1-13 NIV
This reference testifies to us that the true light which is the truth is Jesus Christ.
Today, truth is illusive. We even hear people saying that “everyone bends the truth” making it okay in their thinking. This is part of the gradual decline caused by conformity to a culture’s version of the truth. In Matthew 15 and Mark 7, Christ quotes Isaiah 29: “Well, hath Isaiah said ‘This people honoreth me with their lips but their heart is far from me, howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching the doctrines and commandments of men.’” It’s like the analogy used for brainwashing or going from the light into darkness – truth into ignorance and that is to put a living frog into a pan of cold water and turn on the heat. The end comes gradually, subtly unnoticed and then – final.
Truth in the dictionary online is defined as “the true or actual state of a matter; conformity with fact or reality; a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like; mathematical truths; the state or character of being true; actuality or actual existence; an obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude (and at last) honesty; integrity.
In my work, I see people walking in darkness and the results of it in their lives. It is jarring to see how the status quo we maintain in our families and communities has become the darkness that ravages people’s lives with misbeliefs. This is our self-talk that may be based on misbeliefs as our perception of the world around us and how it defines who we are. In order to understand truth, we need to begin with our perceptions as individuals.
William Backus and Marie Chapian wrote a book in the mid 1980s titled “Telling Yourself the Truth”. The following quote is how they describe our personal misbeliefs: “The word misbelief is an important word. In fact, it’s the most appropriate label we can think of for some of the ridiculous things we tell ourselves. The amount of suffering we experience due to sustained bouts of negative thinking and battered emotions is outrageous. . . “
Misbelief can be destructive in our lives. If we find ourselves in a situation that we would like to change, it’s possible by addressing the way we view it. It’s like the glass half-full or half-empty concept. For example, we can tell ourselves that we are a failure and that’s why we are in this unpleasant situation or we can tell ourselves that it’s okay to make a mistake and that you have learned one more way of being that you don’t want to repeat and then open-mindedly seek a solution and move forward. The person with the glass half-empty concept, doesn’t seek a solution, they just heap on the self-persecution and slide down even further. Alcoholism, drug addiction and even thoughts of suicide can begin in a place like that. Our self-talk, if based in misbelief, is a powerful player in our misbehavior and eventual ruin. Our emotions, behaviors and choices are controlled by what our core beliefs or our personal truths are. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” If our self-talk is filled with misbelief then, we will behave accordingly.
“Self-talk is our perception of what the truth is. If you tell yourself that you are a failure and nobody loves you then you most likely will become a failure. If you tell yourselves untruths or lies then you will certainly believe them too. Self-talk means the words we tell ourselves in our thoughts. It means the words we tell ourselves about people, self, experiences, life in general, God, the future, the past , the present; it is specifically, all of the words you say to yourself all of the time. What are the lies and half-truths you repeat to yourself? Which misbeliefs keep you unhappy and upset? First you must learn how to identify the misbeliefs in your life. Where do the lies and misbeliefs start? The answer to that is in your self-talk.” Telling Yourself the Truth
We need to go back to the Garden in the beginning to understand the ways in which Satan deceived Eve in order to cause her to disobey God’s commandments. He deceived her with a misbelief that God was not being honest about the consequences of them eating the apple as if God could ever lie to us. “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” Numbers 23:19 NIV, “. . . it is impossible for God to lie . . .” Hebrews 6:18NIV
Because Eve didn’t have enough knowledge about the death God was referring to if she and Adam ate from the tree, she believed Satan over God and ate from the tree of good and evil. It is very interesting that in Hosea 4:6, we find the words: “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” and also from Mark 12:24 NIV: “ And Jesus answering said unto them, ‘Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?” When we lack knowledge which is Light we are easily deceived.
Sally Lloyd-Jones explains the Garden incident in this way in her children’s book – The Story of God’s Love For You: “Now, God had given Adam and Eve only one rule: ‘Don’t eat the fruit on that tree,’ God told them. ‘Because if you do, you’ll think you know everything. You’ll stop trusting me. And then death and sadness and tears will come.’ You see, God knew if they ate the fruit, they would think they didn’t need him. And they would try to make themselves happy without him. But God knew there was no such thing as happiness without him, and life without him wouldn’t be life at all.”
Sally Lloyd-Jones uses the approach that Satan’s deception (the only power he has been allowed) was to lead our first parents to believe that God had not been honest with them and that he really didn’t love them like he said he did or he would let them eat the delicious fruit. It seems that misperception is in our nature, that we just can’t accept that we can be loved completely like that with unconditional love. Even though we know that salvation is conditional and on God’s terms, He still loves us despite what way we choose and thankfully, never gives up on us. Could this perception go back to our beginnings? Do we buy into lies and half-truths because we just can’t believe we are that important to anyone even God our Creator? Lies and half-truths deceive us and cause us to stumble and make mistakes that impact our lives negatively.
In John 14:6, Christ proclaims “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by me.”
“13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:13-18 NIV
Emotionally and mentally, what you believe makes all the difference. “Other people, circumstances, events and material things are not what make you happy. What you believe about these things is what makes you happy or unhappy. . . misbeliefs cause us to deny ourselves pleasure as well as the good blessings of life in Christ.” Telling Yourself the Truth.
The help I bring to others is to give them support so they will have the courage to recognize and change their misbeliefs by knowing that God loves them and only wants them to have their best life by changing their self-talk to be positive and hopeful. I also provide information for them about the skills they need to change the self-talk that is misleading them resulting in the misbehavior that is ravaging their lives. I refer those to a therapist who are in need of therapy due to a mental illness or disorder.
Alice Miller writes: “The truth about our childhood is stored up in our body and although we can repress it, we can never alter it. Our intellect can be deceived, our feelings manipulated, our perceptions confused, and our body tricked with medications. But someday the body will present its bill, for it is as incorruptible as a child who, still whole in spirit, will accept no compromises or excuses, and it will not stop tormenting us until we stop evading the truth.” Taken from “No Enemies Within” by Dawna Markova
The woman in the beginning of this writing was so broken from misbeliefs and years of spousal verbal and emotional abuse, even though she was no longer in that relationship, that there were times I wasn’t sure about her final outcome. The misperceptions held her captive as any prisoner behind bars that I have worked with. It is the normal pattern of an abuser to destroy a person’s self-worth by isolating, violating and finally eliminating the victim’s healthy boundaries and thus brainwashing in order to control them. In the beginning of my work with her I started very gradually, just dealing with her day and how it was going, building trust. She had a supportive family but she just couldn’t overcome her demons of how insignificant she felt she was in the bigger picture of their lives or anyone’s life. She would push down any good feelings she had as she continued the self-punishment with her misbeliefs. Gradually over the years, as she began to like herself and realize her importance in God’s eyes and watch her life transform with her new beliefs and behaviors, she began to take charge of her own happiness. She discovered that it was her healthy boundaries she set on others and herself and letting people know how they made her feel and how she would no longer accept that, or in other words owning her own truth, that there was finally a breakthrough. This process took several years. Her life still has its difficulties but she is finding a happiness in her spirit life again and trusting the new skills she is learning to be able to let go of old fears and allow herself to just be who she is in the moment and take in the loving assurance God wants to give her. I see her on an as-needed basis now in between our once monthly visits. I miss seeing her weekly and the amazing person she is becoming. She is also guiding her daughter to a much better place by empowering her to take charge of her own life and self-perceptions as well. “Many people are praying for mountains to be moved, when all they need to do is climb them.” Anonymous. Now, she is climbing her mountains with the truth in her spirit of courage and acceptance, no longer afraid because she knows she is loved and not alone.
In Matthew 9:29 Jesus says: “ . . . According to your faith let it be done to you;” “What if you believe that in spite of the ups and downs of life, you are not a failure, you’ll never be a failure; it’s impossible for you to be a failure! What if you believe that life is challenging and good and with Christ as the strength of your life, you’re a winner through thick and thin? ‘According to your faith let it be done to you.’ ” Telling Yourself the Truth.
In the 1970’s, science began discovering how the brain is physically changed by our misperceptions which affects our moods and behavior. Experiments were conducted to demonstrate that when misbeliefs were changed the results were dramatic where feelings like fear and depression were impacting behavior. You most likely know someone who is always self-denigrating with “Oh, dumb me!” or “There I go again, being my old stupid self” or “I can’t do anything right” and the really big one “Nobody cares about me anyway so why should I try to _____?______.” (Fill in with your own words.) In Women Rising, the strongest reoccurring misbelief is that “no one really cares so why try, again”, not realizing how much God loves them and wants to be in their lives. Their core beliefs include the strong misbelief that God is only a God of judgment and condemnation in whose eyes they have forever failed. This is a hard belief from which to free them. Only the truth about God’s love for them in spite of their mistakes can set them free to begin again.
Grief in loss can be a difficult time in dealing with negative self-talk. There is a story of a woman who had lost her husband and three children in a plane crash. After a grieving period she finally decided that she would always miss her family but she didn’t want to prolong grief and sorrow beyond the limits of God’s will. She believed that it was God’s will that she be happy and useful – and so she was. When we can start to be aware of the negative things we are saying to ourselves and others, with help and insight we can choose to stop them. “This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11 NIV
Recently I have found a new self-help program “Who Switched off My Brain” by Dr. Caroline Leaf. It is used to help people with drug and alcohol addiction and codependence issues. It includes a three cd presentation series that helps us understand how the brain works and how we can physically change the brain in just a short time by employing new self-help skills and following the Scriptures regarding transforming ourselves and honoring the Light we are meant to have. Remember, truth is the only source that renews our minds and that truth only comes from God. The Scriptures and the guidance of the Holy Spirit provide us with the necessary insight.
Dr Leaf states that just by changing our misperceptions which is our self-talk, we can think ourselves: clever, calm, healthy, out of worry and anxiety, out of bitterness and resentment, into forgiving, in control of our emotions and out of stress.
“Behavior starts with a thought. Thoughts stimulate emotions which then result in attitude and finally produce behavior. This symphony of electrochemical reactions in the body affects the way we think and feel physically. Therefore, toxic thoughts produce toxic emotions, which produce toxic attitudes, resulting in toxic behavior. The good news – these toxic thoughts, emotions and attitudes are controllable! And that means your physical and emotional well-being is controllable too.” Dr. Caroline Leaf
This concept is reinforced in II Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV. In this reference we understand that through the work of the Spirit, we can change our thoughts and take control of them in Christ’ name:
“3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Dr. Leaf resides in South Africa. You can view her presentations on YouTube and purchase these materials.
I would also suggest you purchase the self-help book “Telling Yourself the Truth” as well. These materials are still available along with other similar books written by these authors who use the Scriptures to back their claims.
What an amazing life we each could have if our self-talk could be positive. We could positively impact our family, then, our community in ways that could dramatically recreate the future. “Finding Our Truth” is meant to shine a light on our personal truths and how they impact the outcomes of our lives. “Guarding Truth” covers a broader spectrum. I will be posting it in March. It addresses sustaining the truth in the everyday world in which we live and how that can impact a different direction than the one we are on. Sweetwater Journey continues to shine a light upon positive change in our lives and our communities by showcasing the truths we are entrusted with in the Scriptures and the guidance we receive through the Holy Spirit.
May you rejoice at being yourself;
May you follow the song in your soul;
May you wander confidently outside the flock;
May you know the exquisite happiness of love;
May you travel the world, learning along the way;
May you face life’s inevitable challenges with curiosity, not fear;
May you always appreciate the qualities that make you uniquely beautiful;
May you contribute something special to the world – something only you can give.
(Taken from Drifka Adventures blog online)