In graduate school I learned not all lies are the same.
Some lies clearly announce themselves as lies, be that as half-truths or outright falsehoods.
Others, however, are sneaky. They present themselves as the truth. And because they are so believable, so apparently true, we believe those lies, never questioning them.
I had many North American colleagues with very good Chinese. If you say to me, “Amy your Chinese is better than Joann’s or Mike’s.” I would laugh in your face. Hahahah. Um, no. Not even close. Not even with years of study. No.
That lie is so outrageously false, it doesn’t stick to me. I have never thought, “Hey, my Chinese ability is as good as Jo’s or Mike’s.” Instead the truth of “I am so glad to know both Joann and Mike” stuck to me. Added to it was “I am grateful to have friends who can help me out in a pinch. I wish Chinese came as easily to me as it does to both of them, but it doesn’t; I have to play the cards God dealt me in life.”
Let’s play a game called Truth or Lie. Don’t overthink, what’s your gut reaction to each of the following?
- a) That’s true.
- b) That’s a lie.
- c) I’m not sure.
How about “Your supporters will stop supporting you if leave the field.”
Or, “You have to study the language if you want to be effective at all on the field.”
Or, “If your kids are not in the local school, you are not as dedicated as your teammates who have their kids in the local school.”
Or, “If you faithfully serve me, I will provide you a husband.”
Or, “You are not as beautiful as ___fill in the blank______.”
Or, “Dye your hair purple, you’d look great in purple hair!”
Now, here comes the fun part of the game. Who decides if you are right? What if what you think is the truth is in fact a lie? And what you think is a lie, is in fact the truth.
This line of thinking brings me to this week’s theme: myth.
A myth is a story we tell. Some myths are true in the sense that they hold wisdom and teach us. Some myths, however, are myths in the sense that they masquerade falsehood as the truth, making them all the more believable. Some myths are merely good stories, they don’t pretend to be more.
We know that God loves story.
We know that Jesus taught using parables.
We know that the Bible is rich with metaphors. (Read Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God by Lauren Winner if you’re interested in the Bible and metaphors.)
We know that the last hundred years have returned us to our story telling roots. Just look at the plethora of book, blogs, audiobooks, podcasts, TV shows, and movies.
What I am less convinced of is our ability to discern the myths swirling around us.
So, today, I want us to slow down and spend some time in prayer, asking God to help us accurately see the stories we are telling ourselves. After reading this list, go on a walk and see what the Holy Spirit brings to mind. Or spend time journaling through this list. Or sit in silence and see what God brings up.
Some of our stories are on autopilot and we do not even notice them. Some only come out in certain settings and we forget them. Some are the foundations of how we organize our lives. God knows the stories you tell yourself. Which are half-truths that he wants to bring into full-truth. Which are false and need to be replaced. Which are true and need to be nurtured.
What story do you tell yourself about God? About his love? About what he wants from you? About how he wants you to behave?
What stories are commonly told when your family gathers? How do they inform how you see the world?
What stories do you believe about your body? Your mind? Your abilities? About being a woman?
What stories are you drawn to about cross-cultural work?
What stories are told at your stage of life? I am convinced that each stage comes with a different story. In my 20’s the story was “You can change the world!” As I’m nearing a new decade, that’s not the story I hear.
What story do you tell others about your marriage? Your children? Your parenting style? Your singleness?
What stories do you believe about rest? Play? Work? Study? Maturity?
What stories (passages) in scripture are you drawn to? What passage is currently ministering to your soul?
What story about yourself are you afraid to share with those close to you?
You do not need to answer all of those questions. (Whew!) But I don’t know what is going on in your life or where God wants to replace, restore, or feed a storyline in you. Did one or two of the questions catch your eye? Start there. Go for a walk, journal, or sit in silence.
Right now do you feel more a part of an epic myth or a subplot? How do you like to review your life with God? Do something physical (like a walk), writing/journaling, or in silent reflection?
This is The Grove and we want to hear from you! You can link up your blog post, or share your practices, ponderings, wisdom, questions, ideas, and creative expressions with us in the comments below.
Here’s our Instagram collection from this week using #VelvetAshesMyth. You can add yours!