“Lies, lies, lies… Breaking us down with your lies, lies, lies…” -Glen Hansard
Tell me if this sounds familiar.
They usually start with the little ones, the silly ones that you hear day in and day out, the ones you think are harmless because you know better. “‘Maybe she’s born with it…’ or maybe she just needed our product to cover up the flaws she was born with.” The classic, “This car = sex.” Or the much more understated (and highly manipulative) “This truck is for a man who is not just tough, but ‘Strong’, faithful, and good… that’s you, right?” Ooh, lets not forget, “Luxury is for everyone… even those with small little dining tables (in fact it’s better that way… could you pass the salt…), so get you some luxury!” And my personal favorite, for which I simply have no conceivable words… “I need to upload all of me, I need—no, I have the right—to be unlimited.”
Give me a break.
But that’s where they start; with a simple (and usually genius) commercial, or a comment from your spouse, or a comparison with that girl in your history class. He is the Father Of Lies… and the thing about a parent is that they know their kids inside and out. They know exactly what they need to be successful and what will cause them to fail. He knows, and he’s an exceedingly crafty parent. A baby is small, harmless can’t do anything to you, right? WRONG. Physically speaking, a baby is small and powerless, that’s true… but a baby demands every ounce of your attention, at all hours of the day or night. A baby sucks your energy, changes your perspective on the world, makes a whole lot of fuss for everyone around them. That is a baby’s modus operandi, it’s their only offensive move, and their only way to get what they need to grow.
So here’s what happens. We’re bombarded by harmless little baby-lies (whatever they are) and we laugh at their feeble attempts to cause us trouble with their silly little ideas. But as time passes, we find that it is hard to hear much else apart from their clamoring. So, we feed them… just to shut them up for a few minutes. “Ahhhhh. I can hear myself again. Oh, that’s right, I love how God made me so (_______). It’s a real strength I have.”
… however much time later… The raucous is back, building slowly, telling us the same things but somehow bigger and with more authority due to the sheer volume of it’s voice and constancy of it’s cry for attention. The babies have become grade-schoolers. By the time we realize what’s going on, we have been listening to their little voices for a while now and they make a little more sense, we’ve heard them over and over and over again. And while we still think they are ridiculous, it’s harder to remember what the actual reality is, what truth it is that they want us to mistrust.
… however much time later… We are now left with a vague sense of who we want to be that is confused with who we are and who the world says we should be. All the little babies with their ridiculous ideas and weak voices are all grown up, speaking with compelling arguments and appealing to our desire for something real with their imaginary solutions. … And we just. can’t. remember… is this true?
“Geez, what is wrong with me… I used to really like (_____) about myself… but I actually sorta suck.”
And that’s when it gets totally messed up… because, you see, the next voice to break in is exactly the one we want to hear…
“Honey, stop! Relax and take a deep breath… don’t listen to those lies. You are perfect just the way you are.”
… a deep breath…
“You. You are enough! You don’t have to be all those things. You have value in exactly who you are. You’re ok. In fact, you’re amazing and you need to show that ‘amazing’ to the world. You owe it to yourself to be perfectly you, an individual… you have the right to be amazing, and anyone who tells you you aren’t is just trying to sell you something!”
Did you catch it? Did you see what happened there. Do you know why my innards are roiling? He’s soooooooooo good. It’s scary.
All of those lies that we hear from our world, our media, our friends/enemies, our parents, our bosses or teachers… they are just that, lies that want your attention. And then a voice comes that sounds like the voice of reason. It is a response to the overload of un-truth that we collectively have realized we are drowning in. But, as is the case with most knee-jerk reactions, it is the swing of a pendulum just as far out of balance as the first was. For this lie holds much truth, but perverts it just enough to make it the goal. This little truth, that we are created unique and with purpose, becomes the big Truth so that we become the center… and it’s all about ‘me’. So we think we are marching on to a tune of freedom and peace and justice, while we step-by-step slip further into the cage of ‘me’… all the while ignoring that little tension in our gut that says, “but I’m not perfect… it isn’t really amazing, that thing that I did yesterday, it actually feels like it was wrong.” And we are uncomfortable with our ‘selves’ b/c something is just off.
The truth is, Truth lies in the middle and middle ground can be a real pain in the you-know-what to navigate. In fact we can’t do it… because we, ourselves, don’t have the eyes to see it. We ARE messed up or broken or sucky friends or bad at compassion or greedy or judgmental or not pretty enough for the world or not sexy enough to attract a hottie… And we ARE created to be something special and to have purpose and to love and to give our gifts to the world… But we’re NOT enough on our own, we’re NOT perfect as we are, we’re NOT amazing in everything that we do. You see, those two things balance when we cease to try to be so ‘me’ and we start to be who we were meant to be… We were meant to have a guide to navigate the custom design that we were given… We are meant to be totally unique inside of the identity we have in Jesus. When he becomes your center, the Truth drapes over your everything and you get to be unique, custom designed, exactly you covered over by one who fills up your cracks and faults and crap, and leads you through the Shadowlands of the lies and the truth that we are told about our identity.
It should be very telling that before Jesus ever did ANY scrap of ministry, before he was tempted in the desert, before he healed a broken person, before he told a single parable, before he stood up for the “sinner” and worked to turn the hearts of the Jews to the gentiles…
…before he went to the cross…
…before all of it, he humbled himself with a simple act and his Papi said, “You are my son whom I love, in you I am well pleased.”
Set who you think you are aside along with everything the world says about you. Humble yourself, and listen. You may just hear the exact same thing. And that’s a pretty good place to start.