I smiled at the nice volunteer at church who handed me a copy of Winning the War in Your Mind. But my inner critic was already skeptical. Books are great, but they don’t change lives, I thought to myself—especially if you barely have time to read one chapter, let alone the entire thing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hater of books. In fact, I’ve always said reading is one of my favorite hobbies. Yet as I thumbed through the first pages, it struck me that I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d read a book that wasn’t assigned to me or required of me in some way.
So then I started thinking about hobbies. I asked myself, “When was the last time I actually took time to do something fun?”
My inner critic promptly shut down that thought by firing back my running list of responsibilities—at which point I remembered that abandoned load of wet laundry in the washer.
So I shut the book, feeling guilty for even wasting the time it took to have that internal dialogue with myself. Thus ending my two seconds of hobby time for the day.
Little did I know, that moment was actually the turning point God would use to help me start overcoming my inner critic and identifying the first of many lies I believed about myself.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve believed the lie that I must do it all. Therefore, I can’t take time to rest—let alone do fun things. At least, not until everything else is finished. That’s the responsible thing to do, and I am nothing if not responsible.
Then God challenged me to go a little bit deeper toward the root of that lie. It turns out, I was believing the lie that my worth was tied to how much I accomplished each day. I believed I wasn’t worthy of taking breaks or having time off. I thought that “fun” was equivalent to “selfish” as long as there were things left on the to-do list.
And even when I tried my hardest to cross everything off, there was always that nagging feeling that I could’ve—should’ve—done more.
Until recently, I hadn’t realized how ridiculous that sounds when you say it out loud. I just thought everyone lived that way. However, as I came to find out (once I finally made time to start reading), a lie believed as truth will affect your life as if it were true.
Relationally, I was always worried I wasn’t measuring up to the expectations of loved ones. Academically, I was constantly wondering if I’d studied hard enough, if I’d done my best, or if my extreme effort would show in my performance. Because what if it didn’t and I failed (or got a B, which was essentially the same thing in my mind)?
This even impacted my relationship with God. I found myself striving to check off all the “good Christian girl” boxes. You know the ones: Show all the fruits of the Spirit at all times, complete a minimum of three YouVersion Bible Plans a day, and spend an hour in the Word each morning (after working out, making a homemade breakfast, and showering). And naturally, I’d need to do it all before my 8:00am class.
Totally sustainable, right? Wrong.
Because all those things were so easily justifiable to me—and because I’d been living with this inner critic for so long—this was my reality. So, what happens when “reality” becomes unrealistic?
Thank goodness we serve a God who doesn’t leave us to figure out this whole life balance thing on our own. He actually gives us caring spiritual leaders who write helpful books. Books that I believe can guide us—if we let them—through the truths that have always been available to us.
With the great resource of Winning the War in Your Mind literally in my hands, I asked God for help. My circumstances didn’t immediately change, but I believe God began the process of changing me by giving me glimpses of the freedom available to me if only I’d surrender control.
I decided I didn’t want to be defined by old habits and unsustainable lies. Using the tools Pastor Craig outlines in his book, I defined the lie that was holding me back so that I could combat it (and my inner critic) with truth. Then, I went to the Word of God, and you know what I found?
I found a new definition of worth that’s rooted in the truth of God’s Word.
- His Word says I am enough for what He’s called me to, before my feet even hit the floor in the morning.
- God says I am wonderfully made in His image, worthy because of who He is.
- God’s love, His character, and my relationship with Him are what define me.
- God delights in every detail of my life, and what He has begun in me, I trust He will be faithful to complete.
Slowly, I relinquished my false sense of control. I identified a lie that was holding me back. I replaced it with truth, and I wrote that truth down. I thought about it constantly. I confessed it daily. It’s an unfinished process, but I believe it more and more each day.
I still don’t think I was entirely wrong on the whole “books don’t change lives” thing, but you know who does change lives? My God. And there is no doubt in my mind He used this book to change my life.
My life is different because of the freedom God shows me each day. He is renewing my mind as I embrace the new reality I have chosen to live by—the truth of His Word. He was working in my heart before I began reading this book, and now I can say that this book will change lives.
So what are you waiting for? I can’t wait to see what God will continue to do as we—the Body of Christ—identify the lies that hold us back, replace them with truth, and step into the freedom we’ve always had access to.