Time to get serious. And personal about my stress. A primary breeding ground of long term stress in my life has been in the core lies I have believed. Because I allowed the core lies to go unchecked with truth for so many years, stress became a constant companion. So constant that I was used to it. It was normal. Just life. Oh there were definite and strong spikes but then it would subside. It was like living with a constant low-grade fever. Livable but unhealthy. And ultimately dangerous.
My core lie was that I did not have much inherent value and so my worth was dependent on what others thought of me. I tell the story of how this lie was planted in me as a child in my book Lay it Down – Living in the Freedom of the Gospel. Let me encourage you to read it as it is critical we understand how lies are planted in us, become our unseen master and then how to be freed from them.
Believing that my worth was in what you and others thought of me grew me into an addicted people-pleaser. Believing my worth was is in how others perceived me was:
Frightening. Having my worth in what others thought of me was extremely scary. What if they discovered the real me? What if they saw behind the mask I wore to make sure they were pleased? I would be found out. Rejected. And when your worth is dependent upon others accepting approval, rejection is painful. It triggers your shame that you really are no good. That there is something wrong with you.
Exhausting. I always had to be on my guard, making sure they never saw the real me. I was always trying to figure out what would be acceptable and pleasing to them. Was I making the right decisions? Using my time correctly? Spending my money properly? Dressed right? Attending the expected events? There was no end to the list.
Enslaving. Always having to be “right” is not only exhausting, it is enslaving. You can never be you. A lie is always determining your actions. You are not free.
Addictive. You live in captivity for so long it becomes your only reality. Your only “safe” place. You have become addicted to pretending. To pleasing. To wearing a mask. You are not only enslaved, you are trapped.
As I share in Lay it Down, this eventually lead me into burnout and depression. Serious burnout and deep, dark depression. So much so that it required a year of sick leave to recover.
What was the key to eliminating the stress of being a people-pleaser? It was this – replacing the lie with truth!
Here is the truth that replaced the lie for me –
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!” – 1 John 3:1
My worth is not in what you think of me but in being the beloved child of the Father. Finally I found freedom from the fear, the exhaustion, the slavery and the addiction of people pleasing. The shackles came off. Do I hear the former chains rattling behind me some days? You bet! But do the rattles have to control me? No – they are just rattles reminding me I have an enemy that loves to whisper lies in my ear. And they are a reminder I need to trust the truth.
In my freedom of not caring what you think, do I become disrespectful? Disobedient? Out of control? No I don’t. Why? Because as I immerse myself in this great love of the Father for me, it stirs in me a desire to love Him back…and I want to love who he loves and what he loves. In the freedom the gospel gives me I mature.
YOUR TURN: All of us have one, two, maybe three core lies that we need the truth to set us free from. Let me suggest you spend some time…perhaps extended times…asking God to reveal to you the core lie that continually creates stress in you. Stress that has been so continual you think it is normal. Once you can articulate the lie, you can ask God for the truth you need to believe that will bring freedom; the truth you need to come back to every time you hear the lies rattling behind you.
ONE MORE THING: Stress is epidemic. Not only do you need freedom from it, so do your friends. Do them a favor and forward this blog to them. Then after a few days, connect with them and see what they thought. You could even share what you are discovering about your core lies! Whoa – what might they think of you?