For many years, I believed that I was damaged goods and could only have a second-rate life. I thought that the sexual and emotional abuse I endured as a child was somehow my fault, that it had happened because something was wrong with me. And I felt a false sense of responsibility to fix my circumstances. But I couldn't make that happen, which only caused more self-condemnation, and as a result, I didn't like myself very much.
For so long I believed this terrible lie about myself. And that's a very easy thing to do, because you simply don't know when you're deceived. The lies we believe become our reality because they are truth to us.
After I became a Christian, I thought that the only way God could love me was if I did everything right. That was just another lie that caused me to continually strive to do good, "impressive" things to earn the approval of God and people. I really thought I was something special when I was on the church board and in a leadership position.
Another result of this deception was that I found it easier to see what was "wrong" with other people. I was so critical and judgmental of others. But the truth was, seeing the faults in others just kept me from seeing what was wrong with me for a long time. And that was exactly what the enemy wanted.
In John 8:31-32 (NKJV), Jesus says, "If you remain in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
It's so important for us to know the truth, because the lies we believe—especially about ourselves—can cause many other problems in our lives. That can mean trouble in relationships, in our work, even in our health and other areas of everyday life.
But when we pursue a relationship with God and finally face truth—and that ultimately means the truth about ourselves—we grow spiritually. God is looking on the inside, on our heart. And He's concerned about the motivation of our heart. He's more interested in why we do the things we do than what we're doing.
I've learned to ask God on a regular basis, "Show me truth. Help me face the truth You show me—especially what You show me about myself."
Once God shows us the truth about ourselves, we can no longer hide from it. The Bible tells us the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. He knows just how and when to guide us, and He is gentle and always does what is best for us.
It's not always easy, but I want to encourage you not to reject God's guidance just because it may not feel good in the moment. Just because something doesn't feel good doesn't mean it's not good for you. Remember, God always has His best plan for your life in mind.
I remember when God prompted me to give away a dress a long time ago. It was a brand-new red dress that I'd bought and hadn't worn yet. I really liked it. I was praying for a friend of mine one day and asked God what I could do to bless her, and He spoke to my heart to give her the red dress. Well, I didn't want to give away my dress.
Immediately, I began to reason with God, "But it's new!"
He told me once more to give her the dress.
I tried again, "But God, I bought these really nice earrings to go with it."
He said to give her the earrings too!
So I prayed, "God if this is really You..."
Finally, I realized that red dress was too important to me. I had to face truth in that moment: Did I want to obey God or be selfish? I humbled myself and gave my friend the dress.
You know, it really wasn't about the dress...it was more about my heart. God was teaching me how to be a steward and not an owner of things. God may want to use you to bless someone else. If you are not so attached to things, it won't be hard to give away something if He asks you to.
We all have times like this in our relationship with God if we are willing to be completely honest with Him and let Him search our hearts. When we do, the best thing we can do is embrace the truth and let it set us free!
Remember, we are created in the image of God. To be like Him, we must learn to examine our motives and be honest with ourselves when God shows us something that needs to change, because it is always for our good.
Pray that you will know the truth so you can be set free from deception. And then face the truth God shows you—about you. Use each opportunity to grow and become more like Him.
Joyce Meyer is a New York Times best-selling author and founder of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Inc. She has authored 100 books, including Battlefield of the Mind and Get Your Hopes Up! (Hachette). She hosts the Enjoying Everyday Life radio and TV programs, which air on hundreds of stations worldwide. For more information, visit www.joycemeyer.org.
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