Lately I’ve been paying attention to the words people use. I’m noticing a pattern – especially after my 3:30am Battle the other night. Some words are like a trap door – if we’re not careful, we will fall into believing they are true. Here’s a list of deadly words that are often used:
- No one
When we use these words, it is rarely accurate (meaning there is deception in there somewhere). Often these words are used to manipulate our emotions – to bring death to our soul instead of life. Whether we speak them or someone speaks them to us (or we simply hear them in our head), they make the situation seem hopeless. That’s deadly!
- Nobody listens to me.
- No one cares what I have to say.
- Nothing ever works out for me.
- Everybody has a _(job, car, spouse, child, etc)_ except me.
- Everyone else has it better than me.
- Everything is my fault.
- I’ll never get that job I want.
- I always get blamed for everything!
I once had a male friend that whenever his girlfriend would say, “You never …” or “You always …”, he would reply. “Darlin’, I’m not that good. I never always do the same thing.” and he would kind of chuckle with a twinkle in his eye. He was trying to lighten the mood while also reminding her that he was just as human and unpredictable as we all are.
When we use sweeping words like Never, Always, Everything or Nothing, it can make us feel like our circumstances will not change. It saps our hope for the future. It can make us feel powerless to make changes for our good – which actually becomes kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy. My husband often tells me, “If you believe something, life has a way of proving you right. So if you believe nothing ever works out for you, you’ll be proven right. But if you believe things will work out for you, they often do.” It goes both ways.
When those sweeping words are used against us, it’s usually an accusation. And like my friend said – we’re human and unpredictable and we rarely ALWAYS do the same thing.
It’s good to pay attention to the words you use (or are used against you) and determine if they are TRUE. Especially when that voice in your head says them. [Remember we recently discussed God’s Voice vs Other Voices: How Can You Tell the Difference?]
Context is Key
It occurred to me that the positive side of these statement can also be manipulation and deception.
- Nobody can do this as well as you can!
- No one stands a chance against you.
- Nothing can stop you now.
- Everybody wants to be your friend.
- Everyone admires you.
- Everything you do is amazing!
- You’ll never regret taking that job.
- I’ll always be there for you.
Most of these sound like positive, encouraging statements … except that they are deceptive. They are focused on inflating your ego with false expectations – not good and not realistic. A set up for disappointment.
How Do I Get Out of This Trap?
So how do we keep out of the extremes? Think carefully about what you want to say (or what you hear). Keep it balanced. Try substituting words like Some or Might. Notice how changing these words takes the “bite” out of those negative statements:
- Some people don’t listen to me.
- Some people don’t care what I have to say.
- Some things don’t work out for me.
- Some people have a _(job, car, spouse, child, etc)_, but not everyone.
- Some people have it better than me but not everyone.
- Some things are my fault.
- I might not get that job I want.
- I might get blamed for some things that I didn’t do.
Pay attention to the accusations you hear in your own mind. Change the wording. See if that seems more accurate. It will empower you to take action instead of feeling like a victim.
Don’t allow these words to manipulate your feelings – leading you to a sense of hopelessness that things will “never” change. That’s not God speaking to you, I promise. His words bring hope.
There’s always hope.
(See, there’s a healthy use of the word “always”. There are a few of them. Use it sparingly.)
At 1:30am, I awoke to the voice of God. It surprised me. I wasn’t expecting it – I had been deeply asleep.
How do I know it was God?
- It came out of nowhere. I didn’t initiate this.
- It was full of compassion and love.
- It was a complete thought instantly – an immediate download of information that came with such sudden depth of understanding that I did not have before it came. It was instant insight that took me 9 paragraphs to record in my journal.
What did it “sound” like?
Like my own voice in my thoughts. But I knew it wasn’t MY thoughts for several reasons.
- I couldn’t have made this up. This was entirely new insight that I didn’t have before.
- It was not a logical progression of thoughts, one by one, like what normally happens when I am trying to figure something out. It was like a waterfall of instant understanding. (Like Neo in The Matrix receiving instant information about how to fly a helicopter.)
- I was asleep and was awakened just as it started. That’s not normally the way my mind works. It takes me awhile to wake up and start thinking clearly.
- It was full of love and compassion.
- It started with, “It’s not what you think it is …” Why would I say that if it was my own thoughts?
I write this as an example for those who are unfamiliar with hearing from God. There are times like this where you KNOW it’s God. It’s not always this clear. And that list of how I know it was God is not a checklist – it doesn’t always happen that way.
What IS pretty consistent is the waterfall of new insight – to me that’s a clear indication that I’m hearing from God. You can’t make this stuff up. And if the insight is connected with selfless love and compassion, you can’t go wrong. Some people tell me they are hearing from God, but I wonder about that when it’s not leading them toward Love.
Always look for the Love – the insight should come with love, or move you toward greater compassion. That’s the litmus test of authenticity that you are hearing from God. Look for the Love! ❤
Learn to be still.
In our society of rushing here and there, constant mental stimulation from the media and multitudes of distractions, it can be very hard to simply learn to be still. This is an important aspect of prayer that many do not mention. It’s not fast, fun or easy. It doesn’t appeal to our desire for self-gratification. Learning to be still is very important because it teaches you to wait on the Lord and quiet your mind.
Invite God to speak to you.
We not only talk to God when we pray, but it is also a time for us to listen to God. Tell Him you want to hear from Him. Open your heart and be willing to receive whatever He says (even if you don’t like it). He knows whether you will listen and obey Him or not so be sincere in your request. Lay down your natural willfulness and be open to what He has to say.
This is part of waiting on the Lord. Just like in a conversation – you speak and then you wait for the other person to respond. Sometimes the Lord is quick to reply, but often He waits to see if you really want to hear from Him. It may try your patience. Just sit quietly and wait – sometimes He answers right away and other times He answers later, sometimes days later.
Obey – do whatever He tells you to do.
Obviously, if God tells you to do something, you should do it. Henry Blackaby says that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not like our thoughts. They are so different that sometimes what He tells you to do may seem wrong or crazy. However, if you notice the pattern in the stories in the Bible, every person who was asked to do something by God knew it was God. It wasn’t like “well, this could be me or maybe this is God”. They KNEW. If you’re not sure, then wait for Him to confirm it. Usually you can tell because it stirs your heart and you just KNOW you better do what He said. And often it is not easy – not something you would have come up with on your own.
He really, really likes it when we trust Him. It’s a big deal. We like it when someone trusts US and we get offended if someone does something that demonstrates they don’t trust us, right? Why is that? Because we want people to trust our character and the intentions of our heart – that we will do what we say we will do. God is like that too – He likes it when we trust His character and His intentions, when we demonstrate that we believe He will do what He says He will do.
If you’d like some practical ways to get closer to God, I recommend the course: Developing a Close Relationship with God: A Simple Method. The course teaches you how to focus so you can pay attention to God without distractions. You will also learn to recognize God’s voice and become familiar with the different ways that He communicates. It provides simple activities you can do to interact with God. It’s short – just 15 minutes a week for 4 weeks. It’s online so it’s available whenever you are. You can listen to it while you drive or when you exercise. It can make God more “real” for you – and that’s priceless! 🙂
If you want to go deeper into having a relationship with God, I also recommend the book Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. The workbook version gives you exercises where you can practice talking to God and hearing from Him. It’s a lot of fun and it will also s-t-r-e-t-c-h you spiritually. I’ve read the book, done the workbook and taken a class on it. I’ve also taught the workbook with a small group once or twice. It is really life changing – you’ll never be the same after you learn how to recognize the voice of God in your every day life. 🙂
“You will not obey Him, if you do not believe Him and trust Him. You cannot believe Him if you do not love Him. You cannot love Him unless you know Him.”
-Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God