The Lies we Tell Ourselves, and Truths to Counteract Them
Nearly a year ago, I was thrust into a community of some of the most broken and incredibly beautiful hearts that I've ever met. Yet despite how beautiful, compassionate, selfless, and incredibly wise these new friends are, many of them often tell themselves a variety of lies. I've done it. You've probably done it. We all do it. We are our own worst critics and we can easily fall into a cycle of verbal self-abuse.
In talking with my community and in examining my own thoughts I noticed several common lies that grieving hearts tell themselves.
“I’m broken beyond repair.”
"This is my fault. I’m to blame."
"I'm unlovable and I'm a burden to others."
"I have to be strong."
"I have it all together. I’m okay. I won’t let this hurt me.”
Friends, we need to stop lying to ourselves and talking down to ourselves. Myself included. It can be so easy for these lies to become more than just a thought and to burrow themselves deep into the crevices of our heart. The more we repeat these lies to ourselves, the more we begin to accept these lies as truth. And, in time, we can convince ourselves to the point where we can no longer determine what is true.
These thoughts are natural. There is no shame in struggling with these thoughts. The problem is when we begin to dwell on and accept these thoughts as fact.
Let's tackle these.
I’m broken beyond repair.
We are hurt and we are broken. It’s a fact. There is no shame in that. But in our weakness, and in our brokenness, we are not worthless nor are we beyond repair. We were formed by God, intricately knit together in our mother’s womb. We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-15).
Our scars, our story, our hurts can become something beautiful. No person living on this earth is beyond the reach of God’s redemptive grace. If you know Jesus, when God looks at you, He sees someone that has been justified and cleaned.
1 Corinthians 6:11 says, “And that is what some of you were. (Talking about sinners.) But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” If you know Jesus (and if you don’t, it’s not too late), when God looks at you He does not see a liar, a murderer, a worthless person. He sees someone who has been washed and justified. He sees Jesus.
This is my fault. I’m to blame.
There have been times when I’ve looked back and wondered what I could have done to save Ethan. What if I had gone to the hospital sooner? What if I had made it to L.A., where my doctor planned for me to deliver? What if I had exercised less? What if I had exercised more? What if I had eaten more of this, less of that?
It can be easy to fall into the deep hole of “what if” questions, and to let the guilt begin to gnaw away at you.
Our world is broken and full of pain. It can be crushing at times. You may be broken and you may have made plenty of mistakes, but you never asked for this. This world is inherently broken. God knows that the world is broken. He knows that it is hard. He never promised us an easy life. In fact, Jesus promises us that we will face trials. But he reminds us to take heart because he has overcome the pain and the sorrow of the world. This pain is temporary.
One story that has brought me comfort when I have started to feel heavy with unnecessary guilt is the story of a blind man in John 9. Jesus and his disciples were walking when they say a man who had been born blind. The disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” And Jesus said to them, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” The man didn’t do anything to be born blind. His blindness was a result of an imperfect world—and his circumstance became an opportunity for God to be glorified and for others to believe and become children of God, and have the opportunity to spend eternity in Heaven.
Okay, let’s stop for a minute. I can debunk this lie right now. Every time I meet another hurting heart, especially one that has lost a child, there has been an instant connection. It’s as if our hearts understand one another and the compassion for one another is instant. If you are hurting, I care. I know. I wish I could cry with you and tell you just how much I think about all of you…all of us.
Sometimes it’s hard to feel loved when you’ve become isolated. When people don’t know how to talk to you anymore. Or, when people do talk to you, but their words feel cold and insensitive. Through this past year I’ve come to find that, 99% of the time, these insensitive comments are actually love that has gotten lost in translation. People are so uncomfortable with seeing you uncomfortable that they don’t know what to say—the discomfort stems from a place of love and concern.
Most importantly, God loves you. He sent his son Jesus to die for you. He knows this world is broken. He’s coming back for His children. God collects your tears. (Psalm 56:8) If you have Christ, you are a conqueror. Nothing will separate you from the love of Christ! (Romans 8:37-39)
I have to be strong.
Ugh. I’m so bad at this. I hate feeling like a burden. I have been so guilty of trying to hold it together in front of certain people, because I feel like they don’t really want to know what’s really going on. It’s not that I don’t want to appear weak—I know that I’m weak. I know that I’m imperfect. I know that grief has exposed a lot of my flaws. I’m completely owning that. But what I have a difficult time with is feeling like a burden to those around me.
But the truth is, we don’t have to be strong. We need one another. We need to carry one another’s burdens.
I think that this struggle often stems from insecurities about the last lie—of being unlovable. Of feeling like people wouldn’t want to have to “deal with you”. Of feeling like you're weighing everyone else down.
We don’t have to be strong. We need one another.
My favorite scripture is II Corinthians 12:9- “My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in your weakness.” When we quit trying to be strong, we give God the chance to shine.
I have it all together. I’m okay. This won’t hurt me.
This happens when we stuff our feelings down and try to forget them. At times I have to step away from everything so that it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. Some days, I need to step out of routine, listen to upbeat music, go to the beach, get some fresh air, and pretend like everything is normal. Those activities have been healthy for me. It’s good to care for your heart. But on the same token, we also need to be careful that we do not ignore our feelings. Sometimes we need to ride the wave. It’s okay if you have hard days. It’s okay to break down. It’s impossible to be perfect. Tears are healing.
I’m no expert at any of these things. I’m learning, right there alongside you. I truly believe each of these truths, but I’ve had to go back and reread them for myself multiple times this week. We need to remain rooted in the truth, no matter how hard the winds of despair blow at us.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5