Belief – It's The Game Changer
By Lea Carawan
Have you ever reacted dramatically differently than you thought you would? Is it just me? There are times that we have reactions to events or situations that are quite different than we ever imagined. Most of us are usually confident that we know how we will respond in a given situation, until it occurs. Like the great philosopher and boxer Mike Tyson pointed out, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
When Rolfe asked me to marry him, my reaction shocked us both. The day before he proposed, I was on cloud nine. My knight in shining armor had come. However, when he proposed I went from floating on cloud nine to being agitated, fearful, and confused. Then I started crying—a lot. It was no secret that I loved him and wanted to make a life with him, but as soon as he popped the question, I dissolved into a great big puddle of tears.
I fled to my parents’ home in Seattle, looking for some answers. Alone, sitting in my backyard from dawn to dusk overlooking the Puget Sound, God revealed that my reaction and anxiety were the result of my core beliefs about marriage. Beliefs I wasn’t even aware I had. Despite having been in the church under great biblical teaching since childhood, I hadn’t observed healthy marriages. Though they probably existed in my church, I was never exposed to them up close. My experience of marriage gave me a very negative perspective. As I look back on that time, I realize that my beliefs about marriage had a significant impact on my ability to move forward with joy and anticipation.
It is absolutely crucial that we understand the impact of belief in our lives. As part of God’s incredible design He endowed belief with exceptional power. It wields mountain-moving power in both the spiritual and physical realms of creation. Belief can be understood as a catalyst for what occurs in our spiritual and physical lives; it moves us to action and moves God to action.
In the spiritual realm, our salvation begins with what we believe about Jesus, not what we know about Him or what we feel about Him, but rather what we believe.
In the spiritual realm, our salvation begins with what we believe about Jesus, not what we know about Him or what we feel about Him, but rather what we believe. Our belief about who Jesus is and what He accomplished for us on the cross causes our right standing before God. “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:10. And what we believe about Jesus impacts how we behave on a daily basis.
In the physical realm it begins with thoughts in our brain that impact our behavior. The brain is complex but to simplify this concept let’s call the part of the brain that filters our thoughts the Command Center. That Command Center receives conscious and unconscious thoughts to determine proper actions. Some thoughts have very little impact and others create immediate action. There are several things that impact whether your Command Center causes an action, and one of the most significant is whether that thought becomes a belief.
Those thoughts that are believed have the most profound and immediate impact on our behavior. In addition, impact is increased if emotions are attached to the beliefs (pain, regret, guilt, shame). One very important thing to understand is that it doesn’t matter what is “actually true” or “reality” in regard to your behavior, it is what you BELIEVE that counts.
We all live out of stories that we have created in our minds, narratives shaped by life and our experiences, things we believe. These stories impact our behaviors. What you believe about God, yourself, marriage, your job, how you should live, etc. has the biggest impact on your behavior. In addition to beliefs we also have assumptions that we consider true (beliefs we usually haven't taken the time to examine closely.) These all create a worldview out of which you make decisions every day.
Beliefs That Can Change Us
Why does any of this matter? Because if we want to change, to be transformed, our beliefs are the most important and powerful opportunity we have. Beliefs that change us are often ones that tap into either a positive affection or fear and pain.
A belief that leads to a new affection is a very powerful change agent. For example, falling in love with another person causes us to make changes that we would never have done before. Similarly, falling more in love with God can have the same impact.
In the same way, a new belief that leads to a healthy fear or recognition that the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain associated with change is also a powerful change agent. For many followers of Jesus, it was believing that they were destined for hell if they rejected Christ that motivated them to change.
One important thing to note here. We so often try to change our behavior using our will without changing our beliefs. We try to “will” ourselves to have a better attitude, to be nicer, to exercise more, and for a while we may be able to make some changes. But it is usually a short-term change. The reason using self-control by sheer will does not work over the long run is because self-control is an exhaustible resource. Unless our behaviors assist in changing our beliefs, they will have very little staying power.
Our lives are a series of choices. Those choices produce unavoidable consequences that can quickly multiply in ways we did not foresee. In short, the mess that some of us make of our lives did not happen overnight. As we seek to shape our marriage and family relationships (or help others shape their relationships through coaching) in our quest to experience the abundant life in Jesus, we need to make sure our own house is in order.
“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
“As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the person.”
God’s Word tells us over and over that what is in our heart will determine what we do and say, how we will behave. The heart was seen in biblical times as the seat of belief, what people clung to deep in their souls. We can comprehend the relationship between belief and behavior more fully by meditating on verses like these: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”—Proverbs 23:17; “As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the person.”—Proverbs 27:19
It is incumbent on every one of us to examine our beliefs and assumptions. The people we influence, mentor and coach need us to be like a “tree planted by streams of water” Psalms 1:1-3 and “a house built on rock“ Luke 6:46. Too often we say that we believe something but it is more likely we are trying to believe, we wish we believed it or we hope it is worth believing.
With beliefs playing such a vital role in our life, I invite you to explore your beliefs for yourself or with your clients as you seek to understand why decisions are being made. With such a significant impact on our life and choices, is it any wonder that the Belief Principle is one of the foundational concepts introduced in Transformed Living Coaching? If you transform your belief, you transform your life. Or as we like to say, “What you believe to be true, you do.”
To find out more about Transformational Life Coaching click here.