May 9, 2019
Have you ever believed a lie that started with the truth? That’s what I did the other day. The words, “It’s not all about me,” kept going through my head – over and over – like the song of one of the fabled Sirens. And just like the Sirens’ songs lead sailers to their destruction on rocky shores, this thought sought to destroy what should have been a fun day.
It started out all innocent, like most lies do. My husband and I were attending the PGA Show in Florida and it was our last day. The trip had gone really well, but to be honest I was tired. Instead of using the trip as a vacation, I used all my spare time to work. It was “fun” work, but work nonetheless.
This morning we were all set to walk around the show again. Jonathan had one meeting, but otherwise it would just be the two of us looking at all things golf related and discussing what would make this golf season a success … romantic right? Honestly that should have been my viewpoint.
Instead as I got ready, all my thoughts were about me… My feet hurt. I’m not ready for that call I have at 12:30. Do I really have to be interested in all this golf stuff again today?
Then the thought came … It’s not all about me. I took that thought and held on hard. This thought would help me rise above my selfishness and concentrate on my husband. I clung to that thought and it grew throughout the morning causing other thoughts spring off of it. As you listen in to my internal conversation, see if you can spot where the truth turned into a lie.
My feet hurt.
It’s not all about me.
That’s true. In fact this trip isn’t about me at all.
This trip is about my husband and his work.
It’s not about me.
As a wife I should support him and be interested in his work.
This is stuff he really enjoys. A good wife would enjoy it too.
My feet hurt.
A little bit of sacrifice isn’t a bad thing, especially when it is for someone you love.
It’s not about me.
Wow! Did time stand still. How much longer?
Remember it’s not about me.
That’s right. Today is a day where I should sacrifice for him.
It’s not that long and my feet don’t hurt that bad. SACRIFICE.
Remember stay interested. Ask questions. Today is about him.
S A C R I F I C E
Did you spot where the truth turned into a lie? It was actually early on in the conversation… (the “at all” I tacked on to line 3)… but because I had already agreed with the initial “truth,” everything else seemed like truth as well. The lie grew bigger and bigger like an enormous Venus flytrap about to swallow me. But what was really damaging was not the lie I believed, but the shadow it cast.
You see, the lie I began to believe cast a shadow on my husband and his heart for me. The lie implied that Jonathan was self absorbed and not interested in my pain or desires. It implied that a good wife was one that sacrificed and that my husband probably felt the same way. That shadow started to brew in me a sense of resentment towards Jonathan. I became sulky and irritated. Instead of the initial thought helping me to come out of selfishness and make it possible to enjoy the day, it sabotaged me and created the very thing I was trying to get away from.
Thankfully Jonathan knows me so well. He was able to spot the self destructing spiral before I recognized it myself and we were able to salvage the rest of our last day in Florida. But I was angry with myself for allowing the lie to grow so big and cast such a huge shadow. You see, I know better. I’ve seen shadows like this before.
The most dangerous shadow
As I said at the beginning, the easiest lies for me to believe first start with the truth. My enemy knows this, so he tends to fill my mind with truths that become lies and cast a shadow. The Bible says that our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 1:8) and he knows exactly what my weak spots are.
For years it seems my enemy would use these truths-turned-lies to cast shadows on God’s heart for me. The lie would almost always start with some truth about God’s sovereignty…
– God protects those who love Him, right?
– God knows what the future holds so when you ask Him what path to take you can trust His guidance, right?
– God is ultimately in control of all that comes into your life and will work it out for His good purpose, right?
Once I acknowledged “Yes” to any of the questions above more questions would come…
– Why did God allow you to be sexually abused? He could have protected you, but He didn’t.
– Why do you think God directed you to say yes to an engagement when He knew that man would break it off with you?
– What good purpose do you think God has planned in allowing two of your children to die in your womb?
My enemy’s goal in these conversations was not to have a theological discussion or to find out if I could correctly argue against what he was throwing at me. Instead, his goal was simple… to shed a little doubt on God’s heart for me. The more I argued in my mind and tried to think my way through, the more the doubt or shadow would grow. Even if I won the conversation in my mind, the shadow would still be there.
Hear me carefully, the enemies goal is not to have a conversation with you to completely change your thinking. He doesn’t even care if he wins the conversation going on in your mind today. His only goal is to cast a shadow of doubt on God’s heart for you. Think of Eve in the garden and satan’s words, “Did God really say.” (Genesis 3:1-7) What does the “really” imply? That’s what satan’s goal is… to imply that God’s heart is not for us. That God is holding out on us. That He does not love us as well as He could.
So what do we do? How do we stop the shadow?
- Look for the shadow. You can’t stop something if you don’t even know it is there. Look past your internal conversation to see what that conversation is implying about God, your spouse, your coworker. You need to address the shadow, not the conversation. Often I don’t even know that a conversation is unhealthy until I start looking for the shadow.
- STOP the conversation. You don’t have to answer every thought that comes into your mind. When I get bombarded with any of the thoughts above I think clearly, “NO, not going there.” and then I focus on something completely different. Sometimes I find myself saying that sentence what seems like 100 times in the span of five minutes, but if I refuse to entertain the thought, it will go away. It helps to remember that the goal is not to win the conversation because even if you win there is often still a shadow that is cast. Get out before that shadow can grow.
- Find the truth. Think about what truth combats the shadow you discovered in step 1. For instance to combat the shadow of Jonathan being self absorbed I remembered that he cares much more about me than golf and if I would only talk to him about how I was feeling, Jonathan would easily find a way for us to both enjoy the day. Remember the truth you are finding should combat the shadow, not the internal conversation.
- Dwell on the truth at the right time. It is important to dwell on the truth you’ve uncovered. Think on that truth throughout your day and saturate your mind with it. There are two things to remember as you are dwelling on the truth… Don’t allow this truth to turn into a conversation. Keep it pure, fully contained. Don’t let it become a wandering thought with implications and shadows of its own. The second thing to remember is don’t dwell on this truth when that initial conversation pops up again. It is tempting to use this truth you’ve found as ammunition to the conversation that cast that initial shadow, but remember you must get out of that conversation, not win it. Don’t allow the truth that you’ve discovered to repeat the pattern.
As you follow these steps the shadows will shrink, the implications will cease, and the real truth will be able to ring out clearly.
There is a lot more about this subject that I want to say. I hope in the months to come I will be able to expand on the concepts presented so briefly here. I want to delve into how to easily recognize when our thoughts are out of control and then explore how to take those thoughts captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). For now, I would like to leave you with three verses that have been instrumental in my fight against the shadows that like to creep up and tell me that God does not care for me.
I am fully known.
Psalm 139:1 – You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. (NIV)
God’s heart is always FOR me.
Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)
God is good.
Psalm 34:8 – Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (NIV)