Are you telling yourself the truth?

Do you remember the old game show “To Tell the Truth”?

My mother and I enjoyed watching that daytime show in the ’60s, but if you’re not familiar with it then or the later remakes, here’s the gist.

Three people introduce themselves as the same person–a real individual  who has an incredible story to tell. Of course, only one is telling the truth. Four celebrity panelists ask the contestants questions to try and determine whom they believe.

Sometimes my mom and I spotted the truth-teller, but other times we totally believed the convincing, but wrong person.

As a trained journalist, I like to think of myself as a diehard truth-teller. But while my writing facts are accurate, I know some of the things I tell myself (and believe) are not truth-filled. Especially when I’m physically tired and emotionally overwhelmed, my self-talk can sink into lies or at least half-truths. (I don’t know about you, but those old, discouraging “tapes” in my brain can really take over!)

Christian psychologist, the late Dr. William Backus defines self-talk as “the words we tell ourselves about people, self, experiences, life in general, God, the future, the past…all the words you say to yourself all the time.

Dr. Backus further explains that “In emotional and mental health, what you believe is all important…Other people, circumstances, events and material things are not what make you happy. What you believe about these things is what makes you happy or unhappy.”

That’s why if you don’t want to be fooled by untruths, Dr.Backus says you need to do three things:

  1. Locate your misbeliefs
  2. Remove them.
  3. Replace the misbeliefs with truth.

Here are just a few truths Dr. Backus recommends we tell ourselves:

  • Even if the thing I’m worrying about happens, I can face it without falling apart because God’s Word says my strength is made perfect in weakness.
  • I am not responsible for providing the solutions to everyone’s problems because others can minister as well.
  • God has created me as an emotional being so I can expect to have emotions. But God also has given me the fruit of the Spirit: self-control. I will control my feelings so they can’t control me.

Jesus explained the real source of lies is Satan himself: “He has always hated the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

In contrast, one of the phrases Jesus often spoke was “I tell you the truth” or “Verily, verily” as the KJV translates it. He is the ultimate truth-teller and can be trusted.

Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous?
Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. –Psalm 34:12-13

The psalmist might have been thinking about not lying to others, but I believe that spiritual truth applies also to what we tell ourselves.

So what are you facing that needs some truth-telling?  Illness? A chronic health condition?  Divorce? Financial struggles? A wayward child? Grief? Loneliness?

Whatever it is, dear friend, please tell yourself and believe this truth from Dr. Backus: “My circumstances don’t have to be pleasant or happy because my joy comes from my relationship with God and His unchanging faithfulness.”

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise…Then the God of peace will be with you. –Philippians 4:8-9

Open in your browser to hear the powerful song “Voice of Truth”  © 2003 by Casting Crowns. 

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