Romans 5:8, 2 Corinthians 5:21
I don't know if you noticed, but the quote I selected for this post says, "You are what you believe yourself to be." I think that sounds really nice on the surface, but when you really think about it, this isn't true. I could think myself to be all kinds of things that don't correspond with reality. Most of us don't sit around seriously believing we're things like astronauts, or famous singers, or world-renowned chefs when in reality we are not. But how many of us truly believe ourselves to be less than, weird, unworthy, or any other host of things that are untrue, without challenge?
Many of us, myself included, just went through life allowing our circumstances and events of our life to define us. We allowed our parents, teachers, youth group leaders, and peers to define us, and we likely didn’t even give these definitions a second thought. Once I had a third grade teacher, Mrs. Ferdman, tell me I was a good writer. How do you think I saw myself after that experience? That’s right! As a writer. Conversely, I had peers tell me that “I thought I was pretty”, and so I began to believe that just looking the way I do was somehow wrong and that I needed to tone it down so no one would think that I thought I was “all that”. (Guys, some of this followed me into LAST YEAR! I’ll tell that story in another post).
Rarely, do we stop to ask if these comments about us are true. If we want to feel free and truly embrace our lives, we have to ask ourselves at some point: What is true about me? Who am I, really? Who does God say I am? And then let the shackles fall off.
After my parents divorced, I sought out relationships with boys to prove that I was worthy and desirable. Things got sexual pretty quickly. I knew this was “bad” because even though I felt wanted and desired in the moment, I was left feeling emptier than before. I didn’t understand anything about why I continued to do “bad” things, of course. I was too young. I simply thought this meant I was a bad girl. Bad girls do bad things, right?
Then I met Jesus. I’ll tell the whole story another time, but for this post, what you need to know is that when we really began our relationship, I went on a silent retreat ready to do battle. I knew I was messed up and had done bad things, and I wanted God to “deal” with me already so I could move past my past. I put this encounter off until the last afternoon because I was so scared of what He might say. (Clearly, I didn’t know Him at all yet!) I got down on my knees in this little retreat bedroom and told Him I was ready to confess everything I could remember that I had ever done.
He told me, “We can, but we don’t have to.”
I was like, “What? What do you mean we don’t have to?”
He said, “This is what Jesus died for. You are already forgiven. So, if you want to, we can, but we don’t have to.”
I was sobbing with gratitude at this point and asked Him what we should do now, He told me to take a nap. What a great Dad we have!
So, here I have the Creator of the Universe Himself telling me I was forgiven, but I didn’t FEEL forgiven. His word tells me I am holy before Him, unblemished, a daughter of the King. I am pure, I am righteous, and I am seated in heavenly places. I am His friend and I have His mind. I am loved and cherished beyond my comprehension.
So clearly, I had to renew my mind about who I am. I am not bad, like I thought all these years. I am everything He says I am. So much easier said than felt!
When we start to think new thoughts, they aren’t going to feel true. They’re going to feel like we are faking it or like we are a poser. But it doesn’t matter what our feelings are because truth is truth. Therefore continue to think the new thoughts and sit in the uncomfortable feelings until your feelings change to come into alignment with what the truth actually says.
So, I continued to talk to myself the way God talks to me, no matter how it felt. This is what people refer to as knowing the truth in their mind but not penetrating their heart. Trust me, continue to think these new thoughts and it will translate to your heart. Stand on the truth and REFUSE to entertain those old thoughts. Do NOT indulge in old ways of thinking. When they pop up, remind yourself that you don’t think that way anymore. You think what God thinks now. Your feelings will begin to change as you take charge of your mind.
Presently, you couldn’t convince me that I’m bad if you tried. God’s truth has penetrated my heart because of the renewing of my mind. My choice to focus on Him and what He says is true, regardless of how I feel about it.
There’s the truth of it. Try it out. Identify one area of your identity and ask yourself if it’s true. Is it what God says about you? If it doesn’t align with His thoughts about you, ask Him to help you become aware every time you think that thought. When you become aware, you can choose to think your new thoughts. Put up post its if you have to, but keep at the forefront what God says. Then choose to acknowledge the truth even if it feels downright wrong. Out loud works great. He will bring your feelings into alignment with the truth as you continue to renew your mind.
Would you give me an update on how this is going for you? Some of you know I’m an Enneagram Three and I love success, mine and yours! So bless me with some stories of how you have put this into practice and what has changed because of it.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.