Let go of self limiting beliefs, get ready for change, set goals, develop an action plan, and step into the life God has planned for you!
Welcome back! This is the second post in this series, if you haven’t had a chance to check out the first one, you can find it here. This week, we are going to jump right into an issue that can derail our hopes, dreams, and our lives if we allow it: the lies we believe as truth.
Remember when God delivered the Israelites from slavery? He led them to their promised land, which had been given to them generations before through Abraham. All they had to do was seize the land and take the victory that had already been promised to them. What got in the way of them actually achieving their destiny? 10 guys got cold feet. They were afraid of the obstacles facing them, and they spoke their defeat into existence even before they even fought one battle. Their fear clouded an entire nation’s judgment and cost them 40 years in the wilderness! If the enemy could cause that kind of turmoil in the minds of men who had seen the power of God firsthand, who had literally just been delivered from hundreds of years of slavery, who had seen the flooded waters of the Red Sea part, and who had witnessed the mighty hand of God move in plagues and attacks on the Egyptian people, what do you think he can do to your mind?
Do not doubt this my friend, the enemy knows if he can sprinkle seeds of doubt and insecurity, create feelings of fear and trepidation, and place confusion where God placed promises, then he can put a wrench in God’s plans for your life. He will not win the ultimate war, but he’s seeking to gain ground while he can, to steal your joy, to get you off of the battlefield and into a hiding place. This has been one of his tactics from the beginning. It worked then, and it is still working now. Jesus called Satan the father of lies (John 8:44); every lie that you have ever been told, or ever believed, or ever will believe, originated with him, and he will not give up or quit. So we have to decide, do we believe the lies, or do we believe God?
One of the biggest lies I believed about myself almost kept me from a major accomplishment in my life. I grew up in Richmond in subsidized housing in the 1980’s. We were pretty poor by US economic standards, and I felt that everyday as I got older. I knew I needed to go to college if I wanted a better life, but no one in my family had ever attended, and it seemed like a far away dream. Because we were low income, I was able to take the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) for free, and though I had no prep classes and few opportunities to study for it, I signed up anyway and hoped for the best. On the day of the test, my mom drove me to UC Berkeley, and as I entered one of the beautiful, lofty buildings on campus I immediately felt out of place. As that test was placed in front of me, I began to feel even more out of place. That campus had always had a special appeal to me – it was somewhere I’d hung out with friends pretending to be in college, and it was fun to be an imposter on Friday nights. However, that Saturday morning there was no fun in the charade. After I left the SAT that Saturday, I knew that there was no way I would ever be back in a classroom in that university. I was ok with that, because I didn’t belong there.
I actually did terrible on the SAT (no, I will not be sharing my score, it’s still too embarrassing even 20+ years later) and knowing that my grades and SAT score would make it hard to get into a four year college right out of high school, I opted for community college where I took a few classes before dropping out my first semester.
When I had my oldest daughter at 19, I knew that I needed to take control of my life and do better for her. Getting an education would allow me to provide a better life for her than I had growing up, and that became my focus. Between working and raising a small child, it took much longer than I would have liked to have enough classes to transfer to a four year college. When I was about a year from transferring into a university, I met with a counselor at my community college to discuss my progress and what I needed to transfer into a four year school. He asked what I was majoring in (political science) and then asked if I was applying to UC Berkeley, which at the time had one of the best undergraduate political science programs in the world. My immediate thought was, is this guy crazy? Did he not see I had been in and out of community college for 4 years, hadn’t he seen my high school transcripts and SAT scores??? I managed to blankly reply no, I hadn’t planned on applying to Berkeley and he asked why not. My reply was that I had never thought about Berkeley, which was true; I had disqualified myself on the basis of my past. And this counselor, as if he had read my mind, replied to me you have the GPA for it, you have a compelling story, and they have a great transfer program for reentry students (reentry students are people who over 25 years of age entering college, which I would be by the time I transferred). Then he said to me I think you should apply to Berkeley, you can get in. And that report was like the words of Caleb, only one of two spies who believed that the Israelites could win the victory over the inhabitants in the land God had given them.
You see, while the 10 allowed the enemy to cloud their mind with fear and doubt, 2 spies – Joshua and Caleb – believed God. They believed His promises, they stood on His covenant, and they were ready to fight and seize their promised land. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I chose to believe this counselor knew what he was talking about and that there was a chance. The quiet voice of the enemy that had told me years before that I didn’t belong was replaced by a voice that said I can and I will. I’m sure you can guess the rest, I applied, I got in and in August 2001, almost 10 years after that fateful SAT day, I walked onto that campus as an undergrad.
Refusing to allow that lie to determine my path, led to me not only being the first person in my family to graduate from college (and from one of the best schools in the country, no less!), it also changed my belief that all things are possible when you stop listening to fear and start to step out in faith. I had a mustard seed of faith, and God moved those mountains of doubt and fear. There were times when I wanted to quit, days of procrastination when I couldn’t read another word or write another page, and I prayed through it. I would have never made it through without God, because there were many days during that time that I still felt out of place. I was often the oldest “kid” in class, and I was only in my late 20’s. When other students were doing after school events and clubs (and partying), I was taking care of my daughter and working part time at night. But I did it, I achieved my dream and you can too!
So what dream has God put in your heart that hasn’t been fulfilled because the devil has filled you with lies and pushed you to the sidelines in your own life? Wherever you are, God sees you, and He wants to deliver you from the bondage of fear and manipulation. He made a plan for your life before you even took one breath. And His plan for you is good!!!! His love and his faithfulness never change, and any belief that we have that He isn’t what the Bible says He is comes from the enemy. It’s time to stop believing the lies and get on with the awesome life God has given you.
If you’re willing, spend some time thinking, then writing, the answers to these questions. Then spend some time in reflection and prayer. I’ll see you soon for the next post in this series!
1. What is the one (two max) thing you would do if you knew you were absolutely guaranteed success?
2. What is stopping you from working to achieve your dream? Write down exactly what you tell yourself when you think of what you want to do.
3. Is what‘s stopping you based on fact or fiction? Based on fact would be an actual concrete reality – I can’t be a pilot because I don’t know how to fly a plane; fiction would be I can’t be a pilot because I’m not smart enough to learn how to fly a plane.
3a. If based on fact, what could you do to work towards accomplishing your dream? In the pilot example, a step could be taking flying lessons.
3b. If based on fiction, where did the lie that’s holding you back come from? Are you willing to challenge that negative thinking? (More on challenging negative thoughts in the next post).
4. What would be the worst thing that could happen if you tried and didn’t succeed?
4a. Why would this matter to you?
5. Is this a God given dream or a selfish dream? IE, is the desire to achieve your dream based on selfish ambition or glory, or based on a heartfelt desire to use the talents and abilities God has given you to His glory?
6. What would happen if you stepped out in faith and worked to accomplish your dream? Visualize what that success looks like, how you feel, what changes would happen in your life if you succeeded.
7. Be honest with yourself – are you ready to choose faith over fear and take a step towards accomplishing your dream in question 1? If yes, what’s your next step? (If you need help, see my smart goals post). If no, what do you need to work on in order to take that step?
I hope you found these questions helpful – you can download the questionnaire here, and please leave a comment below if you find this helpful!
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