Day Two: Discovering the Lies We’ve Been Believing (Core Lies)
I was a junior in college when I first learned about core lies.
The revelation of core lies began when a mentor named Cathy led me to her kitchen, offered me tea, and listened as I told her that I was an emotional mess, that I wanted things to change, but that I didn’t know what was wrong with me. And if you don’t know what’s wrong, how can you change? After listening, she pulled out a yellow notepad and began writing these words:
I am bad.
I am shameful.
I am forgettable.
I am not in control.
I am ugly.
I am stupid.
I am wrong.
I am a failure.
I am defective.
I am lazy.
I am not good enough.
She asked me if any of the phrases stood out to me or hit my heart. Several did, but two of them were most prominent: I am not in control and I am not good enough. She circled them.
Next, she wrote:
I must be good enough (perfectionist).
I must be in control.
I must be fit.
I must be smart.
I must be pretty.
I must be right.
I must be successful.
I must be wanted.
I must hide myself.
She asked me to circle the ones that hit me.
I must be good enough. I must be smart.
It was there, in that small kitchen with Cathy that I learned these beliefs, these “core lies,” are what we believe deep down about ourselves, in our core. God has given us longings to be loved and to make an impact, but I learned that day that we live in a fallen world where we have hurtful and painful experiences. More than that, as we think about and make observations about those experiences, we then come up with conclusions that aren’t necessarily true. Much of this is subconscious, something we do as children that stays with us.
We come up with lies (our interpretations or conclusions) about the world, ourselves, God, and others based on these childhood observations. And then, unconsciously, we form these goals that become demands. For example, if I think I’m stupid because I grew up with a parent who treated me like I was, I likely make an unconscious goal that I must be smart (to be smart = loved), and if you catch me saying something stupid, well, that’s a landmine in my heart because it means that you’ve exposed me, and it hurts because if I’m not smart, I’m not good enough and not worthy of love.
If we demand that people view us the way our lies are dictating, we will become manipulative and self-protective, and it will show up in our emotions with anger, anxiety, and depression.
But here’s the great news, and what I learned on that day in college: Jesus Christ paid with His life for all our past, present, and future sins, and we do not have to be whatever these lies are. Our worth and value is only dependent on how Christ sees us, and He sees us as righteous. He loves us. We are secure in Him.
Our deepest desire is to be loved and secure, and Christ meets that desire.
We don’t have to be good enough or smart enough or in-control or beautiful, or whatever the thing is that has you in invisible chains. How others view us does not determine our worth—only Jesus determines our worth.
Key Application: When you get angry, anxious, or depressed, write down what preceded the emotion, and include any thoughts that swirled in your mind at that moment. Then look for a pattern and ask God if there is a core lie you are believing.
Quick Guide to the Emotions that Help Guide Us Toward Our Core Lies:
Anger = a blocked goal
Anxiety = uncertain if we can accomplish our goal
Depression = an unattainable goal (this is different from clinical depression)