Finding Freedom: Part 2 – Exchanging Lies with the Truth
“The thief [Satan] comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I [Jesus] came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” John 10:10 (AMP)
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” John 16:13 (NIV)
Wouldn’t it be nice to find out which of the messages rolling around in your brain were actually telling you the truth and which ones ought to be thrown out with the garbage?
On Monday, I introduced you to a concept that is very dear to my heart: it is the idea that our minds are, in fact, a battlefield with competing messages vying for our attention and subservience. I confessed to you that there is a tape reel of self-deprecating thoughts that habitually find a way to plague my mind (and likely yours too) at any given time.
In light of that, I’d like to let you know about a technique that has helped me tremendously with this issue. The practice itself is quite simple, but it does take a few minutes and requires its participant to slow down, tune out the world around him/her and tune into what is going on inside oneself.
(Heads up: In the next few posts in this series I will share personal stories of times God and I have hashed through this practice together. But first I wanted to give you an idea of the basic process.)
Would you be so kind as to give this a shot with me? (It will likely take you around 10-15 minutes, unless you decide you want to take longer.)
I call it “Exchanging Lies for the Truth.”
Grab a pen and a couple pieces of blank paper (or a blank page in your journal) and find somewhere to sit and write that is least likely to allow you to become distracted. At the top of the page write the words “I Give.”
Once you have found a quiet place and have removed or minimized the potential for distraction, tune in and ask yourself: what are the messages you are hearing today? Write down whatever you hear— no matter how horrible it is. (Don’t worry; no one but you will ever need to see this piece of paper.) Some of the messages you hear might be blatant lies that have been spoken over you (i.e. by a parent or a boyfriend or a classmate or an in-law). Some of the messages you hear might be seemingly innocuous little thoughts tickling the back of your mind as you’re going throughout your day, arguing with your spouse, getting offended by your friends, etc. So ask yourself: What is the tape reel playing in your mind?
I gave you a few personal examples in the opening sentences of Monday’s post, but here are a few more common messages I or my friends tend to hear on a regular basis:
- You are a fool.
- You don’t have what it takes to get through this.
- You are dirty.
- You are a failure.
- It is hopeless.
- It’s all his/her fault.
- It’s all your fault.
- No one wants you here.
- You are a mistake.
- You are a burden.
- You are so high maintenance.
- Your story is not important.
- No one likes you.
- You’re ugly.
- You’re lazy.
- You are all alone.
- It will never get better.
- You are broken beyond repair.
Take as much time as you need— at least 3-5 minutes— to take a deep breath, slow yourself down, and really purge yourself of all of those types of messages. Just get them on paper, without judgment, and put them in word form so that you can look at them square in the face. (P.S. Feel free to put on some quiet, calm, instrumental music in the background if you think it might help you out with this. Here is one primarily-instrumental song I enjoy. Or, if you are like me and get overstimulated easily, total silence works fabulously as well.)
Why don’t you go ahead and do Step 2 right now and meet me back here when you are done?
[That sucked, right? Yeah, I know. So now let’s get on to the best part!] Okay, so now, either on the right side of the page or on a fresh piece of paper, write the words “I Get” at the top. And then ask God this: “OK, Lord… Here are the messages I am hearing… What do YOU have to tell me about all of this?” And then write down whatever you hear. By the way, try not to judge whether what you hear is or isn’t from God— just write down whatever comes to your mind. (You can sort through it later to determine what was and was not from Him. Right now what’s important is to just get your stream of consciousness on the page.)
And can I please just make one side note that I think is really really important? God is not limited by language. Yes, He might give you words that are corresponding to what He’s telling you. Or He might remind you of a verse that speaks a truth you need to hear. Or He might remind you of a song and something about that song is going to conjure up the truth in you. He might speak truth to you via a conversation with a friend or through a sermon or through a great book or podcast. Or He might even give you a vision or bring a picture to your mind as a way to get His truth into you. Please just write out whatever you can— and if He gives you a picture, just try to describe that picture in as much detail as possible.
So go ahead and do that now: step away from this screen, play some soft instrumental music if you want, and then ask God “What do YOU have to tell me about these messages I’m hearing?” Write down whatever you hear. Take as much time as you want. And I know I just said it a moment ago, but it bears repeating: Try not to judge whether what you hear/see/think about is or isn’t from God— you can sort through all that later to determine what did or didn’t come from Him. If you’re not a fan of silence, here is an instrumental song that might help facilitate this moment for you.
Sift through all you wrote down. Determine what from the “I Get” List brings you peace or satisfies you. And keep allowing Him to bring you new levels of insight and healing and freedom as the days and weeks progress. And I want to encourage you— especially for those of you who may have grown up in the church and, by now, many Bible verses may seem cliché to you because you have heard them so many times: If the first thing you wrote down feels cliché, or feels like a pat answer, or doesn’t bring you any sense of peace or comfort or satisfaction– KEEP SEARCHING! Keep asking God to speak to you on that one. (I’ll share more about my experience with this situation in a later post, but for now I want to encourage you: Don’t stop begging God for more until you have gotten an answer that really brings peace and freedom to you.)
Keep in mind: This is an ongoing process. You likely did not get answers/insight for everything on your list all in one sitting— and that’s okay. Keep coming back to God and keep bringing Him your new lies/messages/toxic tape reels. Eventually, incrementally, ultimately, you will grow in freedom and peace and joy. You will find yourself more and more able to distinguish His voice from your own. You will grow in discernment and in the ability to quickly recognize both the internal and external lies when they start to creep up and get you off-course. Life is messy and will remain messy— but you can and will become more mature and complete, just as the ancient author James once wrote:
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
I’m proud of you today, friends. This was a big day. I pray with all my heart that God will use today’s practice to start you on a newfound, joy-filled, crazy-awesome path to greater Freedom.
Jesus, may Your will be done in our lives. Break through the sludge and the garbage that wants to bog us down and sidetrack us from the abundant life You have planned for us. Thank You that you are here and that You continue to pursue us. We welcome You, Lord. Amen.
[This is Part 2 of a five-part series unpacking the process of learning how to tune into what our good, truth-telling God wants to say to us about the (sometimes toxic) messages we hear in our minds. Click here to get to the landing page with links to each post for this series.]
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What about you?
What was today’s practice like for you? Would you be so courageous as to share with me any newfound (or long-lost) truths you discovered today?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.