I had a conversation with John recently about the importance of removing wrong negative beliefs that we hold about ourselves and replacing them with the truth. He used an illustration of a blackboard, which I found very helpful. I had been on holiday with my grandchildren last week and had spent time drawing pictures on a large blackboard in the Centre Parcs lodge which my grandson rubbed out with glee!
What we feel about ourselves is formed very early in life – it’s a combination of our temperaments (nature) and the environment and experiences we have, both in our early years and throughout our lives (nurture). Where that environment isn’t positive and the introvert part of us is missed and isn’t affirmed a series of negative impressions and beliefs start to form and go progressively deeper and deeper. It’s like what we feel about ourselves deep down is written on a blackboard and it sits there as a constant reminder of our failings and inadequacies. In the Understanding Yourself Step Two course John writes ‘How we feel about ourselves is, next to God himself, the biggest single influence in our lives’.
If we are going to change what we feel about ourselves at the deepest level the writing on that blackboard needs to be erased, we need to actively rub out all those inaccurate negative feelings that have formed over the years. The blackboard then needs to be filled with the truth of who we really are, the truth of what the Bible says God feels about us. The positive things which we hear in church, which our family and friends say to us need to register and be written on the blackboard, not slide away like water off a duck’s back, which so often happens. John encouraged me to write down the messages that have been inscribed on my blackboard for many years - and then erase them and replace them with the truth. I found it a very helpful, albeit rather painful experience. I headed one piece of paper ‘What is written on my blackboard that needs rubbing out?’ and the other ‘The truth that needs writing on the blackboard in permanent marker!’. I had no difficulty filling the first sheet of paper, rather I was shocked at how easily and fluently I could write out the negatives and how strongly I believed what I wrote. It was a painful process to see what I really feel written in black and white. The second piece of paper was much harder to write but, as I wrote out truths which have been said to me and which I know in my head to be true, I could feel the value in deliberately choosing to record and believe those positive messages. Paul writes, ‘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.’ (Romans 12:2)
Click here to read John's Bible insight 'Perfect love' which refers to this article.