When something truly changes my life, I start to hear myself talk about it.
In the last few years something inside me has drastically shifted. And it all happened because I started to dig up some roots; when I discovered that many of my feelings and fears weren’t due to the reasons I thought caused them at all:
I thought my anxiety about losing my job was because I didn’t like the thought of pitching a tarp in the park next door and having nasty cold breezes pinch my toes.
I thought guilt from my debt was because it proved I was still financially irresponsible.
I thought my fear of singing an original song in public was because I had a realistic perspective of my talent level, and it was clear that- in any given moment- I was surrounded by 50 people who could sing it better. (Think I’m exaggerating? Move to LA.)
But one day while sitting under the creaking bows of this tree of emotions, staring up at all the branches of obvious reasons I was feeling all these things, I rolled over and suddenly noticed something sticking out of the ground. The gnarled and wrinkled elbow of an old root had just barely breeched the surface.
I got curious.
Pulling out my pocket trowel with flourish (as one generally does) I starting digging around this root. What did this root have to do with my tree of feelings? The branches said it all, right?
As I began to dig little suspicions began to awake inside me, and I dug with increased speed and desperation. Finally I had dug all the way to the bottom of each root, and I sat back with dirt encrusted fingers- amazed.
At the end of each root- no matter which dark emotion it had produced- was a lie about my Father.
It had nothing to do with my ability or circumstances at all. It had everything to do with something I believed wrong about God’s character.
Fear of losing my job – “Your Father might not decide to take care of you.”
Guilt of debt – “Your Father isn’t good enough to help you out of your mistakes.”
Reluctance to sing – “Your Father gave you this desire just to tease you.”
Over and over…emotion after emotion…at the end of each root wasn’t something I was believing about myself, but about my God.
My God who has taken responsibility for my sin [Romans 8:3]. My God who said He was more than enough for anything I needed to have, or do, or be [2 Cor 12:9]. My God who PROMISED to never leave me or forsake [Deut. 31:6]. Who’s character IS love, and cannot be anything else [1 John 4:8]. Who crafted me out of kind design, not to watch me live hope-sick my whole life [Ephesians 1:5].
After realizing this I went to work. Every week, every day, every moment a dark emotion arose, I asked myself this simple question:
What does this mean I’m believing about my Father?
Once I answered that question and found a lie, I could never look Him in the eye and believe it was true.
I could never look Him in His gracious, sacrificial, love-pooled eyes and say “You don’t care about providing for me. You want to watch me struggle through mistakes on my own. You gave me deep desires just to tease me.”
For weeks I did this.
Until…one day…I just, didn’t need too anymore.
Oh the lies would still come knocking- cloaked in the vagueness of a cruel “emotion”- but they couldn’t even get through my skull. As soon as I felt even a finger of fear, anxiety, or worry- warning bells went off in my mind. I knew a lie about my Father was trespassing. For awhile I just looked at them and laughed. “You can’t be serious, you really want me to believe that about Dad, my Dad?” Then eventually even that took too much energy, so I ignored them all together.
So if you see a black-and-blue caravan of homeless lies camping about on sidewalks and street corners, chances are, they were mine.
It’s a lot less crowded around here now. But strangely…
much more full.