The other night at my men’s life group, my co-leader Levi was reading from a book by Dr. Chris Thurman entitled “The Lies We Believe”. (One of our strong bonds is our continuous pursuit of learning through reading that we both share.) The focus of the book is dealing with lies and deceptions that we tell ourselves and how to replace them with the truth.
One of the phrases that he read said: “simply put, truth is reality as it really is.” And the acceptance of truth is what promotes mental, emotional and spiritual health.
The problem here is that truth may promote health, but not necessarily happiness – and that is why we might resist it. Although there are many different ways we can lie to ourselves (and the book goes into them), I would like to focus on one in particular – denial.
Denial is a very powerful and destructive lie because it keeps us stuck. People can deny all kinds of things from minor things (they can’t really be completely sold out), to major (the doctors must have made a misdiagnosis.)
I have seen people not accept that a relationship has really ended and kept the fantasy alive. I have seen people keep trying to use a credit card that has been denied repeatedly. I have had alcoholics try to convince me that their drinking is not a problem. And I have had people try to convince me that their sin is not a sin and is acceptable to God. And let’s not even get started on problems related to the IRS and back taxes.
To accept reality under these circumstances is to enter into a period of grief. Yes, my finances really are that bad. No, I really wasn’t shown adequate love and care as a child, and my Mom is still incapable of meeting that need, even as and adult. And the list goes on and on. But telling ourselves the truth, even when painful, is the first step towards a new and healthier life. Once we break this denial and grieve our loss, we can come up with a new plan.
This plan might include setting limits with ourselves or others, quitting a bad relationship or job or making some other bold but needed move.
Are you being prodded right now as you read this? Is there a lie you have gone along with that you know is a lie? Are you afraid to tell yourself the truth and deal with the implications? Or is your problem that you don’t want to consider any form of self-examination – even if it might yield some positive results, simply because it might not turn out the way you want? Unfortunately what you don’t want to know might actually hurt you.
Right now there is roof repair that is needed on my house – if I do not deal with it before the rains come again there will be a bucket in the middle of my family room when the weather turns. That’s reality – and I can’t pray it away.