Storming the Fortress of a Deeply Rooted Lie
A few years ago, I was in a season of confronting a lie I had internalized from the time I was very young. Frankly, I felt like I had rooted out that lie several times before (and I had!). I would feel incredible freedom then suddenly in a different situation – bam– the lie would surface again. It was quite confusing.
It happened that during that time, every day we passed a crumbling Spanish ruin. The roof was completely gone, as were several of the walls. Only one wall remained along with various inner pieces of the structure. One day I sensed God saying, “This is the stronghold of the lie you believe. It’s coming down, wall by wall. Yes, you have freedom looking many directions, but looking from other angles— you are still blocked. Just keep cooperating with me— you’ll know when it’s time to knock out those last walls. Relax!”
And so it is with certain types of deeply ingrained patterns of behavior: People pleasing. Fear. Control issues. Addiction. Perfectionism. Anxiety.
Imagine a little fortress up on a hill. The location is strategic – on a high bluff, difficult to approach without being seen. The walls are reinforced with windows to allow the dweller to take shots at any threatening intruders before they get too near. It’s a well-defended, well constructed structure… not easy to be taken.
Inside all of us are little fortresses of belief. Our lives and decisions are deeply impacted by the voices coming from within these fortresses— particularly when they are built on lies— and many times, we are not even aware of the influence they have over our behavior. And they are defended by all kinds of different mechanisms such as anger, blaming of others, humor, pride, hiding from others, or wearing masks.
Usually the foundations of these fortified mental structures are laid somewhere during a vulnerable time in childhood when we were unable to recognize and defend ourselves against a lie. So the parent who was never pleased helps to lay a foundation in a child’s mind to “Try harder. Do better…I must be perfect to be loved.” And a little fortress of perfectionism solidifies in this child’s psyche.
Then that stronghold of belief is fed and nurtured over time … the closer he is to perfection, the more accolades he receives (“It’s true! I am more loved when I’m perfect!”). But it starts to affect him in twisted ways as well… he starts to wrestle with great anxiety when things are not exactly in order. Then he even begins to project his standards of perfection on others and becomes critical, judging others when they make simple mistakes. Add the complicating factor that by nature, this is a man very competent with a gifting towards excellence. Before you know it… that little fortress has fused into a seemingly impenetrable citadel and perfectionism is running his life.
Since our belief systems are quite well-defended, it often takes a major crisis to push us into confronting the lies head on. So our stronghold of people pleasing has a wall imploded when all of the sudden we are forced to make a major decision that, no matter which direction we go, will be hurtful to others. Or the stronghold of control suddenly gets the roof blown off when our loved one gets cancer and we have to sit by helplessly. Or our stronghold that we don’t really need God starts developing cracks as we begin to face our own mortality.
In these times of upheaval, our defenses are down (or being bombarded from multiple fronts) and there’s an incredible opportunity to root out the lies that have kept us from moving forward in health… IF we choose to cooperate.
Not that we sometimes can even NAME the lie in the moment … some strongholds take years of chiseling through the layers of lies and our defense mechanisms to get down to a foundational core lie… usually a lie about who we are or who God is.
And we will need others from outside to help us to see what is going on because the nature of crisis leaves us incredibly disoriented. This is a particularly difficult process when the core lie involves trust, because the healing process almost always involves entrusting yourself to others and to God— and all in a season when the walls are coming down and we feel most vulnerable.
But the pursuit of inner healing means we lay assault to those fortresses. We cooperate with where God is leading us. We have the courage to admit that lie isn’t really working its magic anymore. And we are willing to sit exposed in a crumbling fortress for a season until we get the clarity to get up, take a sledgehammer to another wall of that lie, and begin to build our beliefs on the Truth of what God says.
Of course, we may find ourselves taking refuge back in the lie for another season until another wall is blown out. A stronghold fortified over a lifetime sometimes takes stages of demolition. But as we mature, we discern the lies more quickly and run more often to the Stronghold of Truth.
Perhaps you find yourself today having some faulty belief system under siege. Maybe you are newly retired or just experienced a spectacular failure, and your stronghold is founded in the lie that “what I DO gives me value.” Now you are not doing anything in retirement. Or what you did was a failure. Maybe you are having to come face to face with a lie about where your value lies.
No matter what lie you are facing today, may you have the courage too pursue Truth. He actually has a name— Jesus. When we build our lives on His promises, even crisis can’t rip the roof off. Even the winds of transition can’t blow the walls over. And you will be able to say as David did in Psalm 62:6, “ here He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.”
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