"...and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:32)
Lately a friend told me about a friend of hers who has an obvious (though not to her) eating disorder. When she looks in the mirror she views herself as overweight and in need of food discipline but she is actually dangerously underweight. Let’s call her Karen.
Something was spoken to Karen as a little girl that wounded her soul so deeply it crippled her adult life. She’s been in counseling for several years and realizes the large emotional impact the incident made but she has never connected the dots from those terrible words to one of the outcomes: her extreme thinness. Still, she knows how miserable she is. Sometimes her life seems too unbearable to continue.
Karen is a Christian and she wants to serve the Lord. She is a good person with a good heart. She works, goes to church, has friends and most would not suspect how much pain she endures every moment of every day. I’ve been thinking about Karen quite a bit lately. Is there a real solution for her, not just one to help her cope and limp through the rest of her life?
Though I don’t know Karen personally and have no access to her I know that her case is not at all unique. Almost all of us have wounds in our past, many of which still impact our present. As children we used to say, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me.” Wow! What a lie that was, huh? Wounds from sticks and stones are lots easier to heal than some words.
Well, what can we do about lies, whether from words or events? How can we counter them so they lose their power and allow us to break forth from limping to leaping? The solution is simple but don’t confuse “simple” with “easy.” Countering lies is hard work but think about it this way: it’s not as hard as continuing to live with them. Once free, who would regret their greatest effort?
Let’s start at the beginning—identifying lies. A lie only has power if we believe it. That may sound like a no brainer but think about Karen. She knows now as an adult that what was said to her as a child was not true (it was a lie) but at an emotional level she still believes it. How do I know? Because of the profound affect it still has on her life.
Self-examination about what we believe about ourselves unveils any lies that are lurking down in the basement of our heart. We can also start backward and look at negative results that we live with on a day-to-day basis. Like fear, self-condemnation, guilt, and shame or maybe being a control freak. A good way to expose lies is to try finishing sentences such as: “I will always be/have_________” or “I’ll never be able to________” or “It is impossible for me to________.”
Okay, so a lie is exposed. It’s a necessary first step but sadly it does not automatically kill the thing’s clout. This is where a lot of people are stuck and without knowing Karen I figure that might be where she is stuck. What is needed is that we start believing the truth instead. Jesus said that when we KNOW the TRUTH it will set us FREE (my paraphrase of John 8:32).
Acknowledging a lie as a lie is the “knowing” part. Do that and be sure to say it out loud. For instance: “When I was six Dad said I was______. That was a lie. I renounce it now in the name of Jesus.” Once may not be enough so repeat it every day until the lie starts to feel like the lie it is. Note: If your parents (or whoever) did pronounce lies over you, don’t also forget to forgive them and release them. Let that be between them and God. What’s next?
Countering with Truth
Sometimes lies have made a deep rut in our heart causing us to repeat over and over the same thoughts and perform the same negative behaviors. But know this for sure: no rut is too deep that truth cannot fill it. Truth will always trump any lie. Freedom will come, forming a new river of truth flowing deep and pure to the very bottom of our soul. That’s when we know all the hard work was worth it.
How do we start believing the truth? Since we already know how powerful words are, let’s use that to our advantage and counter lies with words of truth. I would start with the truth found in the Word of God. I’ll give the example of a child who was led to believe they weren’t wanted and it would have been better if they had never been born.
What might counter that lie from God’s Word? Psalm 139 is perfect for such a case. That one who has always felt rejected can speak out “My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.” (Verse 15) Thank you Lord that even if my parents did not want me, I was wanted by you!
“And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” (Verse 16) You loved me from my moment of conception Lord and you carefully planned for my birth and whole life. You have a purpose for my existence and I plan on fulfilling it for your glory. Practically every verse in Psalm 139 can be spoken and then turned into a prayer and declaration of truth. Find a portion of scripture that counters any lies affecting your life and begin to speak the truth over them instead.
Believing the truth
Do you recognize any lies affecting your life and would you like to adopt this approach to find freedom? I can guarantee that it will work because God’s Word always works but I cannot estimate how long it will take. In fact, you might want to declare at the end of your other declarations every day, “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed so I am freer than I was yesterday and I will be more free tomorrow!” (From John 8:36)
At first you may declare the scriptures that apply to your case but not really believe them. That’s where a lot of people give up. Don’t give up. It probably took some time for the lie to penetrate you enough to hold you hostage so why wouldn’t it naturally take a little time to do a rewind? Remember that you are doing a complete 180º turn. The more truth sinks down into your spirit the more it will affect your behavior and all the practical aspects of your life.
Suppose our friend Karen started believing the truth? Her weight would probably come into balance and joy would replace hopeless despair. What about you? Suppose you started believing the truth in an area where you have believed a lie. Ask yourself what it would mean if that lie weren’t true? How would your life be different? If the answer gives you a glimpse of freedom I hope it will motivate you to use it as your goal. That freedom is your future so believe it and begin!