It can be so easy to feel that our feet are planted firmly in the truth of the Gospel and our minds are free from the debris of those entanglements we left behind. Our hearts at last can be more at peace. And those things can be true without recognizing a snare we can sometimes miss coming from the lies we have often told ourselves. Too often they have been a part of us for so long, we no longer recognize them as lies, so because of that we accept them and can subtly fall prey to the erosion they create.
We miss those lies because they were sown so skillfully and often not in one large obvious chunk. Instead one fragment was put in place and others added until the lie came into being in all its power to look like the truth to us. We accepted it because we tended to agree with it by that time.
If it happened all at once, we might recognize it for what it is. That is why the enemy of our souls is patient with his work.
The first time we do not succeed at something, doubt begins to creep in about whether or not we have what it takes. (Yes, we have all been there.) We question our ability, our effort, our worth, and more. What we decide to do then will determine how effectively doubt works its evil.
If we are encouraged by others to try again (especially others who believe in us) or if we determine there was something we could have done differently or better, we are less likely to concede to the suggestions that come from the doubts.
If, however, we do not receive encouragement or cannot see a way to have done something differently, better, or more, the suggestions that follow the doubt will begin to take root in us. We may succumb to telling ourselves we are less capable, less able, or not as good as needed. If we accept or keep rehearsing those thoughts long enough, we will begin to believe they are true for us. As a result, we will begin to lie to ourselves.
We might also succumb to denying our own lack of doing our part and how that contributed to the failure. Then? We will have learned nothing. We will lie to ourselves that we were right and everyone or everything else was wrong and we were the victims of injustice.
In Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, the author admonishes: “Above all, don’t lie to yourself.”
Joel Rosenberg in one of recent novels, The Kremlin Conspiracy, followed this quote with sobering reality in these words spoken between two characters in the story:
“The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him or around him. And he loses all respect for himself and for others – and having no respect he ceases to love.”
Lying to oneself is akin to consuming a little poison each day. It doesn’t kill us immediately so we believe it is safe without recognizing we are caught in a snare that will take our life in one way or another.
It is sad that we can fear the truth and be more comfortable with a lie as a result of so many influences of those who discourage us and those whom the enemy uses to believe that is what we deserve.
I appreciate so much what Maurice Maeterlinck has said:
“A truth that disheartens because it is true is of more value than the most stimulating falsehoods.”
Sometimes it can be hard to forget one of the powerful truths penned by C.S. Lewis as well:
“There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.”
We live on the battleground between truth and lies. Truth is God’s domain and lies are that of the enemy who seeks to defeat us.
Truth brings us freedom. Lies imprison us.
Truth leads us to the foot of the cross for grace and mercy. It pushes us to discover what Jesus says about who we are and what we are. It dismantles the pressure to be something we are not or can never be and instead allows us to discover all the possibilities that are a part of God’s design of us.