Lies We Believe
Here’s the truth …
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV).
My first job out of college was teaching at a small, private high school. Although I loved that job and worked diligently at it—staying late to grade or plan or supervise some extracurricular activity—I vividly recall the tortuous process of calling off when sick. Schools today use some automated system, but such luxuries didn’t exist then. I had to speak to Camille, the secretary.
I don’t know if she was paid extra to do it or not, but she made you feel guilty every time you called in. And please know, I got sick maybe once a year, so it’s not like I abused the system. She would query with just enough doubt in her voice that you could read between the lines, hearing instead: “Are you really sick or just faking? You know subs are hard to come by, right? Did you want me to start my day with this added stress of finding a replacement for you so you could go frolic someplace because you're not really sick?” That’s usually what I heard through her exasperated tone. All I would think is, how awful! If people are sick, they should be loved enough by someone who should know their work ethic and actually hear instead a “feel better soon, sweet colleague.” Why add guilt that they have made her job more difficult to the list of their problems that day?
I lived by this verse, probably to a fault: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3 ESV). So, I certainly didn’t want to make things hard for Camille over a little cough. Even though I was legitimately sick and had every right to stay home, I often went to school sick to avoid that phone call. And it stayed with me for years, even after I switched to a public school where subs were always at the ready. I recall holding up my ribs while pointing to the board to review with my students, because I had a bad case of bronchitis and coughing so hard was painfully acute in the rib cage! You might think that’s insane, but I had already missed a few days and wanted to make sure the students had meaningful learning to do. It was only when the principal so happened to walk in unannounced, as they sometimes do for an informal observation, that he noticed my pain and sent me home for the rest of the day. I never wanted someone to make me feel like I was lying when I was telling the truth! It never felt so good to be made to feel like it was okay to be sick! It felt even better to be believed that I wasn’t faking it!
Why do we give a lie so much power?
Think about that for a minute. It’s very easy to get upset with Camille for believing that we teachers were lying, but it’s no different than believing lies we tell ourselves every day: I’m not important to God, I really have nothing to offer to the world, I’m a failure, I'm not smart enough to try for that position, I don’t cook well, I can’t dance, I can’t speak in front of others, I can’t do anything right.
We need to replace the lies with the truth that can only be found in God’s Word when we feel like we’re hearing a broken record playing in our heads. Paul tells us, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV).
So, what is true? What is true is that I am an educated woman. I have gone to school for over 26 years and have a lot of knowledge to offer to people. What can you say that is true about you?
What is noble? I have chosen to put aside career aspirations for my family. What can you say that is noble about you?
What is right? I have fought for causes that I believe in and that align with God’s Word. What have you done that is right?
What is pure? I tell people what I think, sometimes to a fault, but always with the best of intentions. What is pure about you?
What is lovely? I have poured into my child and have placed in her path countless others who have done the same. She, subsequently, follows the Lord with her whole heart. What is lovely that makes you smile?
What is admirable? I have chosen to sacrifice comfort as a champion for God’s truth. What have you done that others would find admirable?
What is excellent or praiseworthy? My marriage is one that many dream of having. It is the embodiment of the cord of three strands that cannot be broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12), because the two of us live life side by side with Jesus. My husband chose me, and that is worthy of praise. What is the one thing in your life that you know is worthy of shouting praises?
Whenever I start hearing voices that I am not good enough, I remind myself of all of those things that make me enough. I tell myself that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37 NIV). Satan can only steal your joy that you let him steal or perpetuate the lies that you let him perpetuate.
There’s a doubting Camille in all of us. But we should never trust her voice. You know the truth. Start speaking it forth.
… and that’s the truth as I know it.