Bring a hundred people together for a weekend retreat and there will be differences. Stories, influences, countries that have been traveled, experiences along the way.
This crowd of adults and children represented a variety of countries, opportunities, and what the cost had been for them to be present with us.
I’m not talking about money.
Recognizing differences is easy. Often it takes a brief conversation to understand that the person across from me isn’t seeing life through my grid. A disparity in language, gender, marital status, having children or not being able to have them, create a broad spectrum of possibilities for us to experience how we are unique from one another.
There will also be commonalities. Those are often harder to determine.
The easy ones are connected with our humanity. We usually have language, the general physicality of our appearances, and needs that include shelter, food, and clothing.
Our speaker pointed out a particular commonality we don’t typically discuss.
We all have lies we buy into, that we allow to loop in our brains to convince us of things that aren’t true about us. Those lies will differ from person to person, but we all choose to believe untruths that became part of our DNA as we’ve grown. They could be the result of an embarrassment growing up, a parent being critical, believing we let someone down we respect–any number of things causes us to believe lies.
I didn’t take long to come up with a list of things that feel shaming to me, often the result of some comment made years ago that stuck in my mind. One was the idea that if people really knew me, they wouldn’t like me. It goes hand-in-hand with another looping lie that tells me that appearance is everything, and if I don’t show up the way people expect, I won’t be accepted.
Saying those things out loud was humbling. We gathered in small groups to share the soul-searing deceits that so easily drain us of joy and hope with their insidiousness. It wasn’t a surprise we had things we were hiding, thoughts that poked hard at our identities and dreams, causing doubt and dismay.
It saddens me that we don’t share these honestly with those we feel safe with. Friends and family who know and love us. There’s anticipated fear in being fully known.
But there’s freedom in being fully known. Having our stuff exposed is often the best way to deal with fears.
Our speaker, Marc, spoke of how these lies distort the music of the gospel, the truth of Jesus loving us enough to die for our mistakes. Once forgiven, we can’t run out of God’s love for us. We become new people in Him, with new identities and futures.
Lies can’t remove that truth. But they can keep us from living in the legitimacy of God’s promises.
We’re all in the same boat. The lies we listen to may differ, but the effect is the same. Despair, which leads us to hide who we are, holding secrets that can destroy us.
Believing the truth of what God says about us frees us up from being crippled by lies from the enemy of our souls.
That is sweet music indeed.
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