Thursday, August 7, 2014

The power of belief

I've been dwelling a lot recently on the power of what we believe in and how it has the ability to define our entire lives from the inside out. I've put together a few points outlining what I believe in regards to how belief can shape our lives and how we need to go about changing those beliefs we need to change that are holding us back.

1. We are not always consciously aware of what we believe in.

One of the most powerful lessons I have learned over the past 12 years of being a Christian is the truth about the power of wrong thinking and how that defines us. When I came to Christ I was carrying overwhelming spiritual baggage which had been passed down to me via the generational lines. Receiving deliverance for these issues was only the beginning of the healing process. I realized that the spiritual baggage I was carrying had created layer after layer of wrong thinking and wrong belief systems operating so deeply within my mind and heart that they would affect my actions and personality on a daily basis without my realizing it. These belief systems - such as the belief that people were constantly trying to kill me - were so deeply rooted in my mind and heart that I didn't even know that they were there and would operate in a constant mode of heightened self awareness and self protection without even realizing it. God took me on a journey where He forced these wrong belief systems out of the buried depths of my heart into my conscious mind where I was forced to face it. This was a painful process but it was the only way to begin to free myself of the wrong thinking I was carrying within me as operating out of a constant place of fear due to this wrong thinking was wearing me out and draining my enthusiasm for daily life.

Though my beliefs were not in my conscious mind - but deeply buried in my subconscious - they still constantly influenced and affected my daily life. The hardest part was when something happened that upset me and forced the painful truths in my life to the surface. I would often react badly to the circumstance and could completely blow it out of proportion. It took many years of walking closely with the Holy Spirit for me to realize that the pain I felt in these circumstances was not connected to the circumstances itself but that the circumstances were simply being used to bring the deeply withheld wrong thinking to the surface so that I could begin to break free of it. During this process I had to rely heavily on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help me to accurately define what I was actually feeling even if it wasn't what I thought it was. But as I continued to embrace this process of facing myself and understanding the depths of the wrong thinking created by the spiritual baggage I had been carrying around my entire life I began to get freer and more whole as a person because I wasn't medicating the problem by trying to control or change my circumstances - or people around me - but I was actually getting to the problem at its root and beginning to change it.

2. Our lives are shaped by what we believe.

Everything we do and everything we are in life is a direct consequence of what we believe in - be it consciously or subconsciously. One of the most powerful belief systems in my life has been the belief that I have been powerless, weak and unable to make a difference in my circumstances and unable to change anything. This wrong belief system has been a huge contributor towards depression in my life and it has also daily shaped my behaviour by causing me to try and shy away from conflict and not to fight for anything - even if it's something that needs to be fought for - because I've felt that I am too weak and powerless to make a decision and to be able to convince others that I deserve respect and that they need to acknowledge me and what I am saying. Over the last few years God has taken me through a hard process of training for leadership which has involved speaking God-given truths into people's lives whom I once considered close friends and are willingly acting in sin, then trying to justify it both to me and themselves. This process has involved God directly telling me to give words of knowledge to people and then telling them afterwards that if they refuse to acknowledge the spoken word of God then I could not maintain a friendship with them.

This has been an incredibly hard process and I have seen several once close friendships fall through due to the actions I have taken. Even with the spoken word of God behind me I still have felt a constant nagging sense of doubt and unbelief which has lead to me coming to God and asking Him "Have I done the right thing in this situation?" God's reply to me has been the following - "Yes Graham, you have done the right thing, you've done exactly as I asked you to do. Your problem now is that you don't believe that you have done the right thing because you don't believe in yourself and your own power enough. You also don't believe that you deserve respect and that your words have the power to change things. Continue to walk through the wrong belief systems in your life with Me and you will learn to be at peace with doing what I've asked you to do in this situation." I began to realize that my fear and doubt in what I had said and done was not because I was in the wrong but because I simply didn't believe I was in the right - even though I was.

3. You can do something you don't really believe in - but it won't last.

You can do something out of a place of unbelief - but only for a while. Eventually the truth will begin to come forth. About 5 years ago I was working for a company that sold cellphones and had just launched a new cellphone network. As an outbound sales consultant I was expected to be bringing in businesses and switching over all of their mobile phones to this new network as well as selling it to personal, individual customers. At the time I was a very shy and restricted person - not a good place to be as a salesman. I also knew that this network was still very buggy and besieged with constant problems and network crashes which left many people very unhappy (and quite understandably so). I did not believe I was to be in this job long term and I struggled to believe in my own ability to do the job - not to mention I had no belief whatsoever in this new network that seemed to create more problems than it did solutions. Needless to say - I struggled in the job.

I did my best to "fake it till I made it" as the old saying goes but the deeply withheld belief systems needed to succeed in this job simply weren't present in my life - not to mention the network gave me no confidence in wanting to sell it. It didn't matter how much I tried to succeed in this job because things just kept on getting worse. Eventually I just gave up and stopped trying because I realized that I was getting nowhere. Fortunately I was able to get another job working for a Christian camp which I really loved and took to like a duck to water. I excelled immensely in this job simply because I believed in where I was and what I was doing which helped me to believe in my own ability to do the job. As I later found out I got out just in time as a few weeks after I left the new cellphone network I had been hopelessly trying to sell crashed completely and wouldn't work for days on end which lead to the store being filled with angry people demanding a refund on their product - needless to say I am glad I got out before that happened!

4. If our beliefs as Christians oppose God's will then they will not last.

When I was younger I firmly believed I was going to be the next Kurt Cobain, or the next Kirk Hammett as a lead guitarist in a heavy metal band. I held onto this belief with a death grip and no one or nothing could tell me otherwise. Once I became a Christian God told me that He wanted to use me in ministry. I pushed this belief away and said that I knew that I was meant to be a rock star. However as time went on things began to change. I began to realize that I didn't really have the creativity or the talent to write and play music constantly as a profession and that my heart was going elsewhere. I certainly had (and still do have) abilities in that area but not to the extent I thought I did. As time wore on and I began to change on the inside I began to realize that being a stadium filling rock star was not my calling after all and that my gifting for music was to be used in a different way than what I had expected. I began to realize that if I had got what I wanted back then and been promoted to fame, riches and stardom I wouldn't have had the ability to last as my constant internal struggles would have destroyed me. In the end I was grateful to see that dream pass and I still get to play music to this day - but in a different way. Ironically, I think I have become a much better musician due to submitting my music gift to God's will as become more whole internally has freed me up to be more creative and to enjoy it more.

My belief throughout everything is that we need to be constantly asking God to show us what we believe about ourselves and for His help to change if our beliefs - whether conscious or subconscious - are holding us back from being who He has destined for us to become.

Take care.

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