Lately, the mean voices are particularly loud. On repeat, the angry mantras march through my thoughts, echoing their erroneous chorus and stifling the realities I know to be true.
When I hear it enough, I start to believe it. “You are ugly.” “You are fat.” “You are a failure.” “You’re dumb.” “You’re not [good/smart/fast/strong/beautiful] enough. ” Objectively, I know these things aren’t true. I know the false words are self-fulfilling and are beating me down and causing me to believe the very lies I am being told, but I can’t always see it. I definitely don’t always feel it.
These are false words I take as truth, while the true words I am unwilling believe. I am attacked by three untruths, in particular, that I have to verbally, audibly battle with Scripture. The battle is daily, hourly. It’s a lesson in persistence and diligence. It’s not easy. But it’s real. As I fight the lies with Truth — the Ultimate Truth — the battle for truth is no longer mine to fight alone, but the victory is Christ’s and the struggle is in His strength and not mine alone. “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:14)
False: “You’re ugly.”
No one has ever said this to me, but I still believe it. I meet a friend at Starbucks and immediately evaluate how she’s more beautiful than me. I pass a stranger on the street and articulate mentally the ways my outfit is inferior to hers, how my hair is less styled, and how my makeup isn’t hiding my imperfections perfectly. I look in the mirror and see only my flaws, nothing else.
Truth: “God made me in His image, so I am beautiful”
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”(Psalm 139:14) I am not more or less beautiful because of how I measure up to society’s standards or my own ideals, I am fundamentally beautiful because I am created in God’s image. His works are wonderful, so I am wonderful.
False: “You’re fat.”
I was thirteen when the kind-hearted friend of my mother came to visit. “You’re so beautiful! Have you lost weight?” In her attempt to encourage me, she unintentionally provided the formative compliment that sparked years of a battle, fighting the false correlation in my mind between weight and beauty. Yes, she was intending to be encouraging and kind, but in reality she planted the seed in my brain that I would not be beautiful unless I was skinny or losing weight.
Truth: “My beauty is not dependent on my current condition.”
I am God’s perfectly hand-crafted child whether I am sedentary or fit, whether I am gaining weight or losing it, whether I am in a sweat suit or a power suit. I am in His image regardless of my outfit, my makeup (or lack thereof), my fitness level. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13) My God created me and He loves, no matter what. I repeat: no matter what.
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come , nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37, 39)
False: “You’re a failure.”
“You’re so talented! You’re going to do amazing things!” she’d been told, over and over again. We were curled up on our respective couches, eating candies and sipping teas. My friend had just returned from a two year project overseas and was squirming under the implied pressure that after such an “amazing” international career step, she would have to do something “more amazing” or risk letting down her friends and family. She was living in the false reality that talent assumes the acceptance of an awesome-resume-building job climbing the corporate ladder.
Truth: “Bringing glory to God is the ultimate success.”
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17) The powerhouse career woman who decides to stay at home to focus on raising her children is a success because she’s doing it for Christ. The young woman who was accepted at an Ivy League school, but decides to attend a local college where she can continue to lead her Bible study is a success because she’s doing it for Christ. The talented pianist who was told she’d go on to sell out concert halls, but decides to give her career to politics is a success because she’s doing it for Christ.
Some days are easy. Some days are hard. Some days are utterly daunting and absolutely impossible. But no matter what the day, no matter what the battle, Scripture’s Truth is bigger, stronger, more powerful than any of the lies that threaten to overwhelm. No matter what lies confront you, don’t let yourself dwell on the lies, but instead fight victoriously in the Truth.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. (Psalm 25:5)