Have you ever had to tell someone to stop being so hard on themselves because of something they said, something they did, or the way they look?
A few years ago, I was looking at myself in a lighted, magnified make-up mirror and pointing out all of my flaws out loud. My husband quickly silenced my complaints. He looked at me and firmly said, “Quit talking about my wife that way.” He reminded me that I would never bully or belittle another person the way I was bullying and belittling myself. Why did I think my negative behavior was acceptable?
I shared this story with a friend, who told me she practiced the same bad habit until her husband interrupted her and said, “You have to stop announcing every flaw before I start to see them.” What a statement about the powerful force of the words we utter! They have the ability to bring something—even if it’s untrue—into existence.
As I tried to understand why I saw myself in such a critical light, I thought about the image of myself I had built over the years. I came to the conclusion that a younger version of myself made the lasting decision to shake hands with a lie. Like many of us, compliments went in one ear and out the other, but negative comments made a lasting impact! Criticism permanently impacted my self-image.
Our propensity to invest in lies goes back to the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. In the book of Genesis, Satan spoke through the serpent. He suggested to Eve that she misunderstood the truth by asking, “Did God really say . . . .” Satan’s “suggestion” caused her to doubt herself and—even worse—to doubt the Word of God. In this first example of gaslighting, sin entered the world when Eve chose to receive a lie and reject the truth. Eve faced the danger of listening to the wrong voice for the first time, ushering in consequences that we still feel today.
Words are powerful. Your voice has the ability to bring good or evil into your life. There’s an interesting passage in the book of Job that asks the question, “Who has helped you utter these words? And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?” (Job 26:4) We must always remember that we have an enemy who loves to whisper lies in our ears and has the power to bring those lies into the world through our mouths. Our job is to discern which voice we listen to and be careful about what we say, think, and believe.
Don’t shake hands with a lie.
“The greatest source of suffering are the lies we tell ourself.” - Elvin Semrad