Belief – How Do I Change My Beliefs?
In this series about belief, we have discussed the importance of beliefs, how they are formed, and highlighted two of the most powerful beliefs that shape what we say and do - our view of God and ourselves. We established the connection of our beliefs to our behaviors and submitted our need to recognize and address false beliefs. All these topics are foundational to answering the question of the last blog in this series, “How do I change my beliefs?”
To effectively change our beliefs, we need to intentionally reshape them by exposing lies and replacing them with truth. This is a challenging task, as our beliefs tend to get locked in and can be difficult to identify. However, there is hope, and transformation begins when we shift our focus to the source of truth - God and His Word.
We often say, “I believe…”, but in reality, it might be more like, “I am trying to believe…”, “I wish I believed…”, or “I hope it is worth believing.” It can be very difficult to choose to believe what God says when it seems to conflict with our life’s experiences.
Several years into my marriage I had a wakeup call. I was raising our two small children, my husband and I were building our business, I worked from home and my husband traveled over 100 days a year. I was driven, stressed, and trying to juggle my roles as business partner, wife, mother and church goer. Though I had been a serious Christian since I was 7 years old, had graduated with a graduate degree in Christian theology, and was serving faithfully as a small group leader, my stressed-filled, anxiety-ridden life did not reflect what I knew the Bible described as the way of life for believers.
On top of that, I didn’t fit the mold of what I thought the Bible teaches about womanhood. I am a leader, teacher, and builder that tends toward cognitive rather than emotional. Whenever I would read books about how men and women are shaped, I related more with the man in many ways. In truth I had frequently skipped over or tried to ignore scriptures about womanhood that I didn’t like or didn’t make sense to me. In fact, everything I had heard and experienced blinded me to the fact that I actually had doubts about the truthfulness of God’s Word. Consequently, my lack of belief manifested through my words and actions, which wreaked havoc in our marriage.
With my marriage on the rocks and the onset of Graves Disease due to my drivenness and stress, I knew this was a come-to-Jesus moment. I committed to putting everything aside and every day coming to the Bible for hours at a time to study what God had to say about being a woman, wife and mother. I promised I would lay down my fears, emotional responses, confusion and just read what it says, call it good, and then let the Holy Spirit show me how His truth applied to my life, marriage and circumstances.
Those few months completely changed my life. Basically, I had to rewrite my worldview. Everything I felt, had experienced, and thought I knew, was challenged. The key was calling God’s Word good and true before I even opened its pages. Then committing to obey even before I understood the fullness of what it looked like. The fruit has been overwhelming in my life, marriage and family. That experience changed everything and was the beginning of Transformed Living.
Are you diligently shaping your beliefs according to the Bible or are you letting the culture shape them by default?
Your beliefs are constantly being shaped and reshaped as you hear, see and experience life. The question is are you diligently shaping them according to the Bible or are you letting the culture shape them by default? When we dismiss, take lightly, or explain away the Bible rather than embrace it, meditate on it, and wrestle with it until it becomes our belief, real transformation often eludes us.
It can be quite scary and humbling to set aside everything you've learned and approach the Bible with an open heart and mind. The process of transforming your worldview is a challenging one, and it often requires a lot of self-reflection and introspection. It's also important to acknowledge the role that your upbringing, culture, and experiences have played in shaping your beliefs and worldview.
We may also fear the unknown. What will it mean if I embrace this truth? What will I have to change? What regrets will I have to face? How does this new truth impact how I behave and make decisions? How will it impact my family and those close to me? The fear of outcomes can hold us back from changing our beliefs. So, you may need to resist trying to determine the outcome or the application until you have embraced God’s truth.
Changing one's beliefs can be challenging and complex, but it is possible. Unfortunately, what we are so often told is to try harder, and it frequently fails. What we really need is to stop trying and start trusting with a new focus. A focus on God and His Word - the Truth. I am referring to training your mind in wisdom and re-shaping beliefs. Paul calls it, “Taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5. Our thoughts are like grooves or ruts carved in our brains. We must recognize the ruts we want to stop using and create new ones.
The first step is to identify the beliefs that are not aligned with God’s design and ways. Ask God to reveal them to you. You might recognize them because they are causing harm, stress, worry or fear.
The first step is to identify the beliefs that are not aligned with God’s design and ways. Ask God to reveal them to you. You might recognize them because they are causing harm, stress, worry or fear. Identifying false beliefs can best be done through applying God’s Word and examining the evidence and experiences that supports His Truth. It may require some adjustments in our lives. We may need to let go of thought patterns or behaviors not aligned with God's truth. We need to let the Lord reveal our beliefs beginning with what we believe about Him and what we believe our ourselves.
One powerful tool in reshaping our beliefs is meditation on God’s Word. We can intentionally immerse ourselves in Scripture, meditating on verses that speak to our specific struggles or areas of doubt. As we meditate on God’s truth, we can ask Him to reveal any areas where we may be believing lies or holding onto false beliefs. We can then ask Him to help us replace those lies with the truth of His Word.
Rolfe had some strongly held beliefs about who God was which were based off his experiences and the teachings he had been under in his early years of faith. He realized that the damaging beliefs about God and himself were wreaking havoc in his life. He had been in the church for decades, and yet, the beliefs persisted despite hundreds of sermons and teachings. It wasn’t until he wrote out the truth and began repeating it over himself every morning and every night that things began to change. He then had me partner with him to speak these truths over him every night as well.
Another important step in reshaping our beliefs is to surround ourselves with a community of believers who are also committed to seeking God’s truth. We can seek out relationships with people who will encourage us and hold us accountable, helping us to stay focused on God’s Word and reminding us of the truth when we are tempted to believe lies. We were not designed to walk alone, we succeed when we are in relationship with others who provide support along the way.
Finally, remember that changing beliefs is a gradual process that takes time and effort. It requires consistent practice. By repeatedly behaving in ways that align with your new beliefs, you can reinforce and strengthen those beliefs over time. It is not always easy. Setbacks and challenges are inevitable. Be patient with yourself. With persistence, openness, and a willingness to grow, you can effectively change your beliefs and experience what Jesus desires for you, a transformed life conformed into His image.
As you are on your journey of transformation, remember that it's okay to ask questions and seek answers. Don't be afraid to seek guidance from a trusted mentor, a spiritual growth coach or find resources that can help deepen your understanding of scripture. Above all, stay open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and allow God to guide you on your path.
Romans 12:2 "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will."
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