True story: A good friend of mine grew up playing hide and seek in the coffins stored in the basement of a funeral parlor. Where she lived. For her whole childhood. Her parents owned and operated a funeral home, so growing up was marked with phone calls in the middle of the night, bodies laying downstairs being prepared for the funeral, and a stream of people grieving sudden losses and tragic accidents.
That will leave a mark.
A few years ago, we sat in our living room with these friends, talking through some of the perspective she had toward life. – she lived with a constant sense of foreboding and anxiety about the future. And it could be paralyzing. So we dug down into the assumptions she was making about life. Summing it up, she lived with a constant expectation that something bad was going to happen, because it always does. Somewhere along the way, she’d believed this was true. It was a subtle, subversive thought that she agreed with. And this agreement had authority and exerted control over her life.
“By agreement I mean those subtle convictions we come to, assent to, give way to, or are raised to assume are true. It happens deep down in our souls where our real beliefs about life are formed. Something or someone whispers to us, Life is never going to turn out the way you’d hoped, or Nobody’s going to come through, or God has forsaken you. And something in us responds, That’s true. We make an agreement, and a conviction is formed. It seems so reasonable. I think we come to more of our beliefs this way than maybe any other.”
Most of us were not raised playing hide and seek around dead bodies. But we all have these agreements. Events in our life happen, and we interpret them as an indictment against us. The enemy of our souls whispers, “You’re not enough. See, you don’t have what it takes. That joy, that hope, that future – that’s for other people, not you.”
And something in us breaks and says, “Yeah. That must be right.”
As Tad was teaching, this memory came flooding back. As we sat in our living room that night, we talked a lot about anxiety and it’s source. We discovered (or at least started to discover) the lie behind my friend’s agreement. It sounded something like this:
Something bad is going to happen. Most likely to the people I love. They will get taken away.
The enemy had whispered this into her soul starting at an early age, and it had kept her trapped in anxiety. As she began to address the agreement, the lie behind it was exposed. She confessed to God that she’d bought into it. And then she broke the agreement.
Days later we spoke and I asked how she was doing. She said it was like a weight had been lifted. There was still some work to do…there always is…but a sense of life and joy had flooded in instead of anxiety and dread.
Jesus reminds us that there is an enemy that is out to “steal, kill, and destroy” the life that God has for us. He lies about who we are and tries to destroy our hope in Jesus by convincing us he’s right. That’s what he does. Our negative emojis are often a window into these lies. And when we allow Jesus to unearth these agreements, He steps in and starts to clear them out. Instead of believing the lie, we begin to live in the knowledge of what’s TRUE. And like Jesus said: when we know the truth – about who He is and who we are – it sets us free.
I pray we live as people who walk in more and more freedom.