Discovering new insights about God, ourselves and others brings freedom. Sometimes our most freeing insights reveal themselves in packages we normally wouldn’t choose. When this happens, it can take time to unpack the benefits coming from uncomfortable insights.
I’m reminded of a quote by James A. Garfield: “The truth shall set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” When I first saw this quote, I smiled and thought, “Isn’t that often the way it is?”
If you appreciate the healing journey, you’ll appreciate this topic. Feel free to grab a cup of coffee, and let’s consider some things concerning Secret Formulas…
It’s wise to know that many of us have developed personal formulas concerning how we will approach life. Our early years form some of the most ingrained ones, which are often exhibited throughout our lives. Unfortunately, if we’ve had a dysfunctional family system growing up, we may find that our secret formulas for getting through life are faulty. They need adjustments. Parts of our foundational beliefs may even need to be excavated and rebuilt.
Even if our foundations are broken, crumbling and off center, God has a way of showing us the treasure in them. Not everything in our life needs to be changed or eliminated. Instead, we hold on to the good while taking on the new. In the meantime, the Holy Spirit enlightens us to new ways of doing life as we yield to Him.
The reluctance to recognize our faulty survival formulas isn’t unusual. After all, we’ve used these familiar lenses for years. They seemed normal to us because of how we were raised and that was how the people closest to us did it.
To top it off, there’s a physical manifestation that supported what we chose. Studies have shown that our brain creates pathways to align with our mindsets. These pathways come from our deepest heart motivations which often come out of our foundational thinking. There’s an idiom in the Bible which refers to this called to set the heart upon. This means we ponder and consider, deciding how we will feel or what we will believe about something. It solidifies a decision deep within – good or bad.
To make new choices in how we think and approach life takes courage. It can feel like a catch 22. To run away from the new adjustments will keep us stuck. To step into a new approach will challenge us in ways we hadn’t considered. It’s comforting to know that as we pray about our options, the Father will reveal the clarity we need in order to take the next step.
Sometimes we don’t realize our ways of getting through life are not working well. Other times we’re frustrated because we know something is amiss, but we don’t know what to do about it.
If you’re frustrated with negative patterns that keep cycling in your life, the following list may help. You might try a little exercise: As you review the list, make a note of the ones you can relate to. Then consider the behaviors you’ve practiced because of them.
- If I love someone enough, they will change.
- If I treat my children the opposite of how I was raised, then they will be alright.
- If I ignore my problem, it will go away.
- God doesn’t help me, so I have to do it myself.
- I must give it all I’ve got, or else do nothing at all.
- If I act helpless, others will take care of me.
- I must pretend I’m someone else; otherwise, people won’t like me.
- I give people complete trust until they prove otherwise.
- We should never argue or have any conflict if we love each other.
- I always have to be right in order to feel safe.
- If I’m walking with Christ, I should always be happy.
- We should forget our past and keep moving on.
- My friends should always be there for me.
- I don’t stand up for myself because I don’t want to hurt others.
- If I don’t dominate others, they will control me.
- Only my positive feelings are acceptable.
It’s interesting to note that some of these formulas can sound quite noble. However, if we examine them a little further, there are some problems associated with approaching life this way. In part two of Secret Formulas, I’ll explore this list a little more. We may find some interesting material that sparks new understandings.
The journey of healing isn’t easy, but God promises He is there with us. Some of us were fatherless and maybe our mothers weren’t able to give us all we needed in order to deal with life. Nevertheless, this shouldn’t hold us back from learning better ways of doing life that are more fulfilling. God has a way of bringing us good teachers and we can discover something new at any age. He will help us change our misguided secret formulas and we can practice new skills that actually work. This brings inner stability, deeper faith, and joy to our journey.