There can be lies – deceptions, falsehoods – that we allow to set up home in our thoughts to the point they masquerade as truth. We grow so used to them, so adjusted to what they mean and so believing of their implications that we unknowingly design our world around them. In a best case scenario, they may cause a simple detour from a fullness of life. In a worst case, they may cause us to miss out altogether.
For years I allowed a self-deceiving internal narrative to play out in a way that could have left us childless. If not for divine intervention to start to unravel these untruths, by my choice we might have never had children. I had room for children on paper in the sense of my work, but I did not have room for children in my day-to-day heart. Had the self-deception continued, our lives would be devoid of incredible richness and joy today.
Let me clarify something. I am not proposing that you can’t have a full life unless you have children. Rather, I am suggesting you can’t experience true fullness of life until you deal with falsehoods rooted deep inside. In my case, I had a condition with the state of truth in my heart, and not being open to having children was a symptom for me.
Why would I write about this, some would ask. I do because I don’t believe I am the only one to go way off track in what I allowed to take hold inside me at some point. If sharing can encourage someone to avoid living misguidedly, then I am happy to offer the experience. And if processing and documenting the reflection seals the lessons for me, it is worth doing in the effort to avoid repeating the mistake.
If you have studied God’s word, you know that Paul wrote about taking captive and testing thoughts to submit them to the truth of Jesus – wise counsel from a different time, worth consideration for today. So what might be a filter to help identify which thoughts could benefit from a good capture and measure of truth?
As a starting place, consider evaluating ideas that focus along the following lines. And then learn from the examples of truths I was surprised could replace my lies.
I was made to… meaning, I am not willing to surrender.
I thought I was destined for a life of travel, culture, exploration and always-increasing leadership responsibility. I couldn’t imagine giving those up or slowing pace down, so I fought at anything that would bring a change.
What I never expected was to discover a previously unknown passion for roots and building a home, creating our own family subculture, discovering the world through my children’s eyes, and a new joy for co-leading my small tribe. I underestimated just how radically God could alter the desires of my heart by sending a couple little lives our way. Something enjoyable and good was complemented by something even better.
I can’t… meaning, I don’t think I can manage.
I truly thought I couldn’t handle a professional calling and a family calling at the same time. I was convinced it had to be one or the other because both could never be done well.
What I now see is that God doesn’t equip us for something only to take the talent away. He does, however, invite us into very different seasons where we need to alternate what is in the forefront of our lives. And as we respond to that, there is opportunity to develop new understanding or new skills that he will likely call us to use in unexpected ways in the future.
I’m not… meaning, I don’t think I am wired that way.
I always believed I wasn’t a “baby person.” When I held others’ babies, they smelled my fear and screamed. I believed I didn’t have the knack or the patience for dealing with an infant.
But I had no clue how God could add a completely new dimension to the heart and mind when he gave me a child. I have told people that to explain the dynamic of what happened to me is like trying to explain a color to someone who can’t see; it is unfathomable until experienced. There is such a miracle of love and instinct that he is able to gift that could never be studied or developed independently.
I’ll never be… meaning, I don’t feel worthy or capable.
I was terrified that I could never be a good mother. I had this belief that I would be doomed to fail as a parent and I would forever screw up my children.
What I now realize is, it is absolutely true that I’ll never be a good mom on my own. I need so much more than what I inherently have to give. Fortunately, God offers me the wisdom and ability to build character that equips me for this calling he has given me as a mother. It was never mine to have to do on my own.
I… meaning, it’s all about me.
In the conversation about family, I fixated on me, myself and I. I was more concerned with holding out for what I thought and wanted due to my untruths than being swayed by a new argument.
Now, however, I am so clearly reminded that Jesus taught we are to live beyond ourselves, loving God and loving others. I would say a great example is the way my husband patiently loved and waited on me while I grew more ready to love a child.
Of all the internal falsehoods I allowed a home for years, I know this one of self is one I’ll continue to have to work to evict. This is my very own, special inheritance from Papa Adam and Momma Eve.
Now I can see how absurd it was to root in and resist the blessing of children for the sake of these perspectives. But that is what lies do. They twist your thinking, cloud understanding, offer an alternative to truth, and aim to steal the best from your life. Had I been more committed to a discipline of capturing and testing thoughts, our story might read differently. We might have a teenager today. That said, I do believe wholeheartedly that God’s timing is perfect and that he can redeem anything in our lives.
There are benefits to having waited to start a family. Among them and as a colleague told me before the birth of our first, quoting someone else as he did, “The goal of parenthood is to help your children have to unlearn as few things as possible.” Having waited so long, my husband and I are more aware of some of our weaknesses and are resolute to not let them be our legacy.
Tolerance for longstanding, untested, joy-stealing untruths is one flaw from my side of the equation that I pray stops at me.
What thoughts do you need to take captive and test? In what way might you be letting lies rob from the fullness of today or from the joy of your tomorrows?
Pause, reflect… capture those thoughts, hold them up, shine a light… and allow truth to replace them where needed.