Have you ever considered what you believe to be true about life?
These beliefs shape your understanding of who you are and why you are alive. I remember Wes Roberts sharing with me that he loves to begin conversations with strangers by asking, “Who are you?” Most often the replies reflect what people do, rather than who they are. “I’m a doctor.” Or “I’m a wife and mother.” Or “I work for a Fortune 500 company.” All great answers, but they focus more on the externals than the core of who you are.
So what do you believe at the very core? Who are you?
Why do you hold these beliefs?
Sometimes our beliefs originate from other people’s perspectives, but when they are based on personal experiences they can yield unbelievable power. Consider this story of how one little girl’s life was transformed.
Imagine a bright, spring day in a small suburb of Chicago. The long, cold winter of 1957 is finally over. “Time to go upstairs and clean your bedrooms. Be sure to open the windows so the fresh air can get in.” The kids both know their parents mean right away.
A frail six-year-old girl and her older brother immediately trot upstairs to obey and disappear into separate bedrooms. “First things, first. I’ll start with the window,” the girl decides. Except the window won’t budge. Again and again the child strains to push it up, banging with all her might on the frame to loosen it, but to no avail. Tears of frustration begin to trickle down her cheeks as she realizes how inept she is.
And then a thought comes to her. In Sunday School the teacher said that Jesus loved her and that he was strong when she was weak. Maybe Jesus could help her open this window. Sitting on the bed she prays tentatively. “Jesus, I don’t even know if you are real, but if you are – I’m trying to do the right thing, but I can’t open this window. Could you please help me?”
Imagine her surprise when the window glides up effortlessly on her next attempt. She sinks down onto the bed in amazement. The proof is obvious. Not only is Jesus real and powerful, but he heard and answered her simple prayer in that tiny, attic bedroom. He cares about her personally. Jesus values her.
That moment transformed the little girl’s belief system. She no longer sees herself as weak and insignificant, but instead cherished and empowered by Jesus Himself! Naturally that answered prayer led to a lifetime of continued prayer and a heart’s desire to please her Lord.
And yes, I am that little child. My belief system changed in an instant.
The knowledge of Jesus’ love and care for me became core beliefs that offered powerful protection in ways I’m finally beginning to appreciate. Instead of crumbling during my parent’s bitter divorce when I was 10 or succumbing to physical and emotional abuse by a stepdad in high school, I clung to Jesus. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus loves and cares for me personally, so I refused to let my belief system be defined by my circumstances.
Statements such as these never became my reality:
I’m no good.
It’s all my fault.
I don’t deserve any better.
I’m just a victim.
Instead, I embraced core beliefs built on facts I knew were true:
God loves me.
Jesus hears and answers prayers.
I can do anything through Christ.
Evil exists, but God will triumph.
God’s protection in my painful experiences can encourage others.
These core beliefs formed my purpose to strengthen and encourage others as they discover God’s love, and that single-mindedness enables me to select opportunities that focus on who I was created to be.
However, just because I am armed with a purpose for my life and strong core values, it does not mean that I’m immune to believing falsehoods. Sometimes what we believe to be true about life influences us in unconscious ways.
I recently discovered that a belief I’d had for years held me back from experiencing a joyful new hobby. Maybe you have limiting beliefs in your head, too. What do you tell yourself you can’t do? “I can’t sing.” “I can’t be organized?” “I can’t _________________.” (You fill in the blank.)
For me the blank was art. Any kind of art. “I’m not artistic,” was a firmly held belief, so when a dear friend repeatedly asked me to join her watercolor painting classes, I just laughed. Nothing could be farther from my expectations for myself, and yet somehow a seed was planted.
Could I paint? Why should I invest time learning to paint and what on earth would I do with my creations?
I had no interest in producing large paintings that would become clutter, so this is where my life purpose provided a solution. What if I created small cards to encourage people?
Now my painting would have a motive that matched my goal of serving God by supporting people. After the initial investment for the paints and supplies this hobby would even save money, since purchasing cards is expensive.
And guess what? The drawings can be traced and then painted, so I don’t have to be an artist to use watercolors after all.