“I struggle with not telling myself the truth.”
This surprising confession from Jennifer Rothschild, author of Me, Myself & Lies and a guest on LIFE Today this week, actually applies to most everyone. But for her, the awareness of this deception became a springboard to help others overcome this crippling condition.
“I grew up in the church,” Jennifer says. “My dad was a pastor. I became a Christian as an older child and I’ve loved Jesus my whole life. When I was 15 years old, I was diagnosed with a disease in both of my eyes that caused me to become legally blind and, consequently, caused me to be totally blind.
“But what’s interesting is that at the age of 15, God really implanted this truth within me: it is well with my soul. And it really genuinely is. But I began to notice it wasn’t feeling so well with my soul. By my late 20s, I thought it is not so well with my soul.
“I’ll never forget the morning I woke up and before my feet even hit the floor I was barraged with this: You’re not a good mother. You can’t do anything right! You shouldn’t have said that to your husband…and on and on. I was so defeated before I even stood up!
“I asked God, ‘What’s wrong with me? It is like I’ve got this undertow. On the surface of my life it really is well. I love you. I know you’ve given me peace, but I’m fighting against it, this undertow trying to suck me down.’
“It was as if I heard God say to me that until I learned to control my thoughts, my thoughts would control me.
“God began this journey within me, taking me on a quest, learning what I was saying to my own soul, what was truth and what was a lie…and it has been an incredible journey.”
Jennifer focuses on our inner dialogue – the hundreds of words we think to ourselves every waking minute. While most are innocuous, such as self-instructions on getting through the day, many can be damaging. Thoughts like, I’ll never make it or God really doesn’t care.
Expanding on Paul’s decree to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5), Jennifer lays out three practical steps to what she calls a “thought-closet makeover.”
First, we must recognize what it is that we say to ourselves. “You need to look at what you say to yourself and see if it falls into one of two categories,” she says. “Is it constructive or it is destructive? Ask yourself, ‘Would I say this to another person?’”
Would you write down everything you say to yourself and give it to a loved one and say, “Here, I want you to talk to yourself this way so you’ll have peace and freedom.” That, she maintains, exposes the reality of our self-talk.
Second, we must refuse the lies. We must reject the ideas that clearly are not of God. Jennifer says, “I began to recognize the difference between what I struggled with and who I really was. So I would not let that thought enter until I rephrased it with truth.”
This third step, to rephrase an errant idea with the truth of God, places those captured thoughts under the obedience of Christ and sets our minds in accordance with God’s word.
It is critical, she points out, to fill ourselves with God’s word so that we know how to rephrase thoughts correctly. “You cannot rephrase a lie into truth if you don’t know truth,” she says.
Doing this takes daily practice. We must trust God more than we trust our own impulses. “We don’t tell ourselves the truth,” Jennifer concludes, “because we don’t know the truth or because we trust our feelings more than we trust the truth.”
By learning to recognize the contents of our “thought closet,” refusing to keep destructive ideas, and rephrasing the lies with God’s truth, we can renew our minds with the power of God’s word and walk more confidently through life as a victorious servant of Jesus Christ.