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I hate weeds. Especially “johnson grass”. It is officially considered one of the 10 worst weeds in the world. And it grew in my parent’s yard. Which meant I was always battling it…
I learned that mowing it didn’t kill it. Pulling it out didn’t. Hacking it with a hoe didn’t. It became my biggest enemy, because it had a secret weapon. It was able to spread underground. What did that mean?
I had to first dig the plant up, then sift through the dirt with my fingers and pick out the roots. If I left an inch of root in the ground, it would come back in several weeks.
So, why do I mention this traumatic period of my life? Because the lies we tell ourselves remind me of “johnson grass”.
They take root easily and spread without being noticed. They can fool you for a while, but they will harm you if you let them stay. Then when you get ready to remove them you must be diligent if you want to “root” them out for good.
So, if you have lies you believe, how can you best find them? To start your investigation, it’s time to review your emotions because lies always leave evidence. And you will be able to tease them out with this exercise.
Pick a question. Write down one thing that comes to mind.
- What do I often get irritable, frustrated, or angry about?
- What am I currently feeling afraid or fearful of?
- What are my dominant worries, the kind that creep into my mind when I get quiet?
- What am I obsessed about currently?
- What patterns do I see in my life where I do something and don’t get what I expect?
Now that you have a written idea, let me illustrate what to do next. It is an example of a lie I found in my life. What I noticed was this.
“When someone wakes me up, it irritates me. Doesn’t matter if it is a nap or in the morning. I just get irritated at that person, even if it was an accident.”
So far, so good. I have identified a repetitive emotion of irritation about something specific.
For years I had ignored this irritation. Then one day the Holy Spirit brought it to my attention. Hmmm. What is going on, I thought? Lou Ann doesn’t get angry when I wake her up. My kids don’t get angry. My friends don’t get angry. Why me?
So I took a few minutes to think back about my life and to identify where I might have some history around waking up and being irritated.
Bingo, it came to me!
It was from my teenage years where my dad would come in and wake me up at 5 or 6am on Saturday mornings. He just wanted someone to hang out with. I had usually gone to bed late (like teenagers do) and I wasn’t even ready to think at that time in the morning.
So, now I had found a possible starting point of this irritation. Now I needed an explanation of why this would affect me decades later.
I then asked myself, what beliefs might be leading to this reaction. That’s when I began to see the lie.
It was this, “I believe anytime someone wakes me up, they are trying to selfishly get something they want at my expense. They don’t care about me or my sleep.“
For me this was fairly close to experiencing an angelic visitation. I was stunned that I had let this lie create irritation with my family for years. I decided right there that I didn’t want this controlling me anymore.
I didn’t have a strategy for identifying a lie in my life. It was the Holy Spirit that gave me the insight and helped me expose this lie. He knew it would be one less point of irritation in my life. And that was good because that left me with just 99 others to find.
But maybe you’re not angry or irritated or frustrated. Instead you are fearful. Or worried. Or obsessing. Or you are in a loop where you do the same thing over and over for some reason.
Repetitive behaviors can be a result of an underlying lie. That’s why many of our sins become addictive. We do them over and over because the lie behind them continues to control us.
So remember this. When you see sinful and repetitive behaviors in your life you should take a second look. Especially when these behaviors are harming your relationship with God and others.
Ok, so here is an exercise for this week. Write down as many answers as you can to all of the questions. Next week we will take what you have found and discuss the next step.
Here’s a short guide to use.