I have many strong beliefs. They come in all shapes, sizes, kinds and intensities. I have beliefs about God, myself and others. Beliefs have been shaped in the core of my being since birth.
My beliefs are based on truth, experience, a trusted source or what someone I loved and valued told me. My Grandma told me and modeled for me that doing good works is integral to faith.
When I saw my father going to visit the sick in the hospital or taking food to those who were hungry, it further built this belief. When I read in the scripture that faith without works is dead, it solidified this belief. This core belief is so ingrained in me that I will not willingly challenge myself regarding its truth.
This belief, along with many others, has become a fortress for me. Tall and strong the fortress of my mind protects me against anything that might storm the gates to break through to me.
Yet, is it true? Because if it is not true, then this core belief I’ve built my life on becomes a prison rather than a fortress.
During a life group study on Galatians 3, this core belief began to unravel before me. It felt a little like a ball of yarn all tied up neatly had just been thrown to a boxful of kittens and the result was a tangled mess.
On one hand helping people, sharing your heart and life is always a good thing. I believe God smiles when we do this. Doing it to earn brownie points with God, though, doesn’t work.
It’s what Paul was trying to tell the church at Galatia. He was telling them that faith was the only necessary element for salvation; we are justified by faith and faith alone. They were trying to follow the law to earn God’s favor. But the action of doing something in order to have God’s attention in order to be Christian is a backward belief.
First, I have to be in relationship with God. I accept the free gift of His son’s sacrifice for me.
Out of that relationship, will flow the natural desire to do good works, whatever they might be. Because I do these good things I have more love, joy, peace and abundance. They are natural by-products of who I am.
My belief that doing good works will earn God’s favor is a falsity. I know my father and grandmother didn’t really believe that. I don’t really believe that but, stuck down deep in my core belief system this raises its head from time to time and sucks me in.
The idea that a core belief can become a prison is new to me, but I can see it in my own life. I don’t want to let go of a belief that seems like without it I might crumble.
Yet it is not the belief holding me. I hold the belief. I have power over what I believe. It only becomes a prison when I won’t challenge myself to change. Then, it is a solitary confinement of my own choosing.
There is one really awesome, blind-blowing truth about this prison. I am on the inside, but I have the key to let myself out. The key is being open to change, open to transformation.
It can be a chrysalis that results in metamorphosis. The chrysalis serves its purpose to feed and protect the caterpillar while it changes. When the time is right, it claws its way out and emerges standing triumphantly on the chrysalis, wings beating the air as if to say I made it. I have become.
What once was life-giving is now only the shell of a prison. A transformation from old to new has occurred. Beauty abounds.
I don’t want to live in a prison. No one does. I want a fortress of beliefs that are real and true. For me, I see beliefs as a chrysalis to feed and grow me into who I am becoming.
My fortress keeps me safe only as long as it contains the beliefs that are true and working in my life. When they become a prison I will realize I hold the key to set myself free.
What about you? How open are to changing beliefs that aren’t true? Have your beliefs changed over time? Does it frighten you or empower you to know you hold the key to your beliefs?