Click on the name tag —–> and listen as you read.
Everyone knows the worst lies are the ones you tell yourself. Everyone knows the worst kind of deception is self-deception. Everyone knows about these mind games we use on ourselves, and yet every one of us still falls for them.
Lies. Self-deception. Self-manipulation. I made myself into the product of each of these. And before I knew it, I no longer recognized my own reflection.
Let me give you some background. As I entered my senior year of high school, I considered myself to be in “good standing” with the Lord. I read my Bible often, prayed with my family every night, didn’t use foul language, dressed modestly, and hadn’t engaged in any kind of inappropriate relationship with boys. At that time, I really thought I was a good Christian because of how I lived. What I didn’t realize was that my “I’ve met the minimum requirements of being a good Christian” attitude prevented me from building the strong foundation I needed before entering college.
Long story short: I went off to college. Made some friends. Then made some more friends. And some more friends. I was what people refer to as a “social butterfly on steroids.” No seriously, people really used to call me that. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. My one goal in life was to have fun and fully enjoy my college experience. Side Note: In case you didn’t know, college is SCHOOL. Not an all-expenses-paid theme park established solely for your enjoyment (although that’s how I viewed it).
This social butterfly on steroids started compromising her faith in the most
“innocent” ways at first. Conveniently leaving things out of conversations with the parents, brushing aside the pricks of her conscience, hushing the Voice telling her to refrain from certain things. Soon the compromises became more weighty. The behaviors she had once so vehemently swore she would never engage in were suddenly justified in her mind. Foul language was appropriate in certain situations – when you’re mad, you just can’t help what words fall out of your mouth. Modesty was a relational concept. As long as I was more covered than the rest of the girls, I was good to go. And then of course the whole topic of boys. So what if I had a lot of guy friends? It’s not like I was actively pursuing all of them – that’s different, that’s wrong.
I justified everything. Every foul word that came out of my mouth, every vulgar thought that ran through my head, every sinful emotion that sprung up from my heart. Y’all, the examples I’ve listed above are only the “little” white lies I told myself. As much as I want to be vulnerable and share my testimony in full detail, I don’t believe this is the appropriate platform to use. Somewhat because it scares me to do so, but mostly because exposing every dirty detail of my past wouldn’t do much good for anyone (I believe there’s a time and place for these things, and this is simply not it). All I can say is this: there was once a swollen black heart full of lies in me, a blackened, rotting heart that eventually burst into a million pieces.
At the end of two years, the sinful heart I had been harboring within the walls of my flesh, behind the guise of my fake smiles, exploded. At this moment, I realized one thing: I was a lie.
I claimed to be a Christian, but I didn’t live like one who knows the Lord, much less, like one who LOVES the Lord. Others labeled me as the “good little Christian girl” or the “church girl” or the “goody two shoes.” My “friends” knew to cover my eyes during the nude scenes of movies. My “friends” knew not to invite me out on Tuesday nights because that’s when Breakaway Bible study was. My “friends” knew that “Jesus was my homeboy” – literally, people used to say that to me. Mockingly, of course. But I laughed right along. My “friends” seemed to know me, right? Wrong. They didn’t KNOW me. I didn’t let anyone know the real me – not even myself. From the moment I stepped foot on that college campus, I was already re-wiring my brain.
“You’re too judgy, let people live how they want to live.”
“You’re being overly critical, it’s really not a big deal.”
“You were sheltered growing up, this is what the real world is like.”
“Your parents are too strict, this is normal for any other person; calm down.”
“They were only joking, it’s not like they’re REALLY making fun of your faith.”
“This is college, it is what it is.”
“You still read your Bible, so it’s okay.”
“Technically, the Bible doesn’t say you can’t do that.”
“But your intentions are pure, you aren’t angling for something sinful.”
And on and on and on…the compromises, the reasons, the justifications kept coming. I had mastered the art of self-deception. Of making myself feel better about who I was. My whole life was a lie. It was a superficial mess of all the things in life that didn’t matter. Anytime I felt the Lord tugging on my heart to return to Him, the devil yanked my body and mind back down to the earthly, sinful things of this world. And I didn’t reluctantly fall from the Lord, I skipped with joy back down to earth, hand in hand with the devil.
I let the lies define me. I lived out each of them to the fullest.
I was the “good girl.” As long as I didn’t go as far as everyone else, I would still be the “good girl.” I was “everyone’s friend.” As long as I did everything to please others, I would continue to be “everyone’s friend.” I was the “innocent one.” As long as I wasn’t hopping around, from guy to guy, I would always be the “innocent one.” I was the “crazy social party girl.” As long as I made it out to every frivolous excuse to party, I would always be everyone’s favorite “party girl.” I lived for my friends. I lived for the approval of others. I lived for the attention and praises of others. And all the while, I believed I was still a good Christian.
What a disgrace to my Heavenly Father. What a waste of life. I let the lies define me. The funny thing is, absolutely none of those things described me. I made myself into that person. From the moment I got to campus, I was busy molding myself into the perfect college girl.
There is nothing so terrible as living a life you don’t recognize as your own. There is nothing so lonely as living in a world where no one truly knows you. There is nothing more saddening than looking into the mirror of your past and not recognizing the person before you. I lived a lie. And I continued to feed it until it consumed me to the point of no recognition. In the process of living solely to please myself, in the process of trying to be everything to everyone, I ended up deceiving myself.
I had bought into the lie that Satan had sold me. He told me I needed to have a certain personality and lifestyle. He was the one whispering in my ear how to justify every sinful act. He was the one that kept reassuring me that I was still a good Christian despite all the sinful things I had done. I bought into the lie and in turn, started selling it everywhere I went, to whomever I met.
When my little bubble burst two years into my college career, I was overwhelmed. It was as if all the lies had been tattooed into my skin, sown onto my body. One by one, I recognized each lie that had reigned over my life. Lies others believed about me. Lies I had believed of myself. One by one, I ripped them away. Under each was a rotting hole that needed healing. I don’t think Satan was too thrilled that I had figured him out. Because at my moment of realization, he commanded a new wave of lies to engulf me: he told me that I was too far gone, he told me I was beyond repair, he told me that I would never, ever be free of the lies, that I would never be free of his dominion over my life. He whispered words of bitterness into my ears, he stirred up anger within my heart, and all the while he mockingly jeered, “You can try and try and try, but you will never loose these bonds, you will never be righteous enough for your God, you will never be pure enough for Him. You signed your life over to me for a few good thrills. I hope you enjoyed them, because now I own you.”
Sadly, I believed this for a long time. The reign of the first wave of lies over my life gave way for the second wave.
But the Lord was faithful. He reminded me that He died once for all so that I would no longer be enslaved to sin, so that death would no longer have dominion over me. He told me that I was His precious possession and reminded me of how He willingly gave up everything to gain my heart. As I started to chip away at the lies I had bought into, the lies that I had sold, the Lord filled my empty places, healed my broken places, and redeemed my ugly places.
It wasn’t easy, but He helped me scrub away each lie from my body. Where Satan had me convinced that I would always be buried under the lies I bought into and the lies that I sold, the Lord showed me He was greater, able, and always victorious. He gave me freedom from my sin, freedom from the chains that held me down. Once, I was buried alive, held captive, bound by chains, but now I am able to boldly say, “Hello my name is SET FREE.”
As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.