A life controlled by lies

A Life Controlled by Lies

Events happen in life, and we can get controlled by the lies we believe as truth, but there is hope. 

It is a memory seared into my brain.

I’m at an age now I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, but this is among those memories that I doubt I’ll ever forget. And it is a memory I want to retain, painful as it is.

It was my night to be the on-call chaplain at the hospital, and I was summoned to the emergency room because a man had been brought in, and the staff needed me to interface with his family as they arrived.

First to arrive was the man’s daughter, who was probably 11 or 12 years old, and her brother, who was perhaps two years younger, along with their stepmother. I guided them to the family waiting room and told them there was no news from the medical staff yet.

The daughter largely ignored me the rest of the evening. She was the perfect hostess for the other family and friends arriving. Her brother mostly stood silently in one corner of the room, staring blankly into space.

I made several trips to the treatment room and knew the man would not survive. When a patient did not survive, it was the doctor’s job to inform the family, but in situations like this, it was my task to pave the way for bad news by saying things like, “It’s not looking very hopeful right now,’ and then doing my best to comfort the family.

About 45 minutes passed before the doctors finally conceded that they could not revive him, and the primary ER doctor summoned me and asked me to pray with him before we went back into the family waiting room to give them the terrible news that their husband, son, father, and friend was dead.

If I had been a better daughter

The doctor assured the family that every measure had been taken to save his life but that they could not revive him.

There was an immediate outpouring of profound grief, but the young daughter finally turned to speak to me for the first time. With tears welling in her eyes, she asked me, “Chaplain, if I had been a better daughter, would Daddy not have killed himself?”

Then she collapsed against me and began to sob. Huge, uncontrollable sobbing. Her younger brother came over to me, collapsed against me, and began sobbing. 

I felt my tears join theirs, and I looked up to realize that the man’s mother, the children’s grandmother, was looking at me through her tears. She had now lost a second son to suicide. She asked me a question.

She was not angry. She just really needed to understand. She asked, “Why Chaplain? How can a good God let things like this happen?”

She didn’t expect an answer, thank God. She just needed to express what she was feeling.

I have no idea what I could have told her then that would have helped.

I have no idea what I could have told the man’s daughter that would have helped.

When her sobs abated somewhat, I finally was able to tell her that what had happened was not her fault and that sometimes people do things we do not understand, and that what her father had done did not mean he did not love her.

I am curious to know if it sank in.

I have doubts that it did.

Children’s misconceptions

Children usually think everything is about them, and words do not usually prevent that misconception from taking hold,

I’ve often thought of that young girl over the years. She would likely be in her early 40s by now.

Has she lived under the terrible burden of believing her father’s suicide was her fault?

Have her relationships suffered because she feels like she is damaged goods?

Did she ever find the comfort of Christ?

That has been my prayer for her – that somehow she experienced the love of Christ, who is the only one who can heal soul wounds like the one she suffered.

Her grandmother has likely moved on from this life, but I wonder about her, too.

I’m sure, like Job, she never got an answer to her questions, but did she, like Job, experience God in such a way that the questions did not matter anymore? That was my prayer for her.

A life controlled by lies

So many of us live a life controlled by lies life tells us.

Life seems tilted that way.

Advertising only serves to reinforce those lies.

I watched a little television recently and intentionally watched the commercials for a time.

I learned some interesting things about myself. I was too fat, my gray hair was off-putting, and I needed to restore it to its original dark brown.

Because I suffer from ED (Erectile Dysfunction), I’m less than a man, and no woman would ever want to be with me.

I drive the wrong car, use the wrong toothpaste, eat the wrong food, wear unhip shoes, wear the wrong clothing, and use the wrong telephone.

Apparently, I’m of no use to anyone.

If it weren’t for the love of Christ that assures me that I am loved, I, too, might be tempted to end it all.

So what lies still govern your life?

You probably have to dig into your childhood to find the root of many of the lies, but, like the grandmother in this story, some lies attach themselves to us as we go through adulthood, too.

The enemy lies to us continually.

Jesus warned us that he would. He called him the “Father of all lies.” John 8:44

Jesus though is the truth, and, as he said, the truth sets us free. John 8:31-32

Many of us do not understand that the truth that sets us free isn’t some spoken concept – it is a living person – Jesus. It is an ongoing, vibrant relationship with Jesus that keeps us free from the lies the enemy wants us to believe.

I’ve struggled with guilt and shame for much of my life because of things that happened to me when I was young and the things I’ve done as a result.

When I mess up as an adult, those feelings of shame and guilt can well up inside me again, and it’s easy for me to think I’m nothing but a failure.

But the words of Paul at the end of Romans chapter eight have become bedrock for me, calling me back to life and reminding me who and whose I am.

“For I am convinced that neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

Thank God for the One who is the truth!

Quotes to consider

  • The warfare that the Christian is involved with is the battle between true and mistaken beliefs. It is warring for reality against the delusional world of lies. Which side will you take? David Riddell
  • The chief thief is the belief beneath, the subconscious is always the power behind the decisions we make and the outcomes we experience. David Riddell
  • God meets us where we are, not where we pretend to be or wish we were.  My job is to pay attention to where I am.  When I enter my reality (my red-dot truth), He brings His reality, His truth, into mine.  Truth is a two-way street.  When I avoid my truth, I nod politely, and I might even smile or say amen when I hear His.  But not much happens.  God’s truth does not set free a pretending or hiding heart. Larry Crabb
  • The journey into total mental health begins with a commitment to come out of delusion into reality, no matter what the cost. D. Riddell

Questions to answer

  1. What experiences have you had where you have realised you have been living under a false perception or a lie?
  2. What does advertising want to tell you about yourself?
  3. What was your heart reaction when you read that little girl’s belief that if she had been ‘better,’ then her father would not have killed himself?

Further reading

How is it With Your Soul?

Sitting with Sadness

Why Was I Even Born?

This is a guest post from Bruce Swartz Bruce Swartz

Bruce Swartz is a husband, father, and grandfather to a family he loves. Both he and his wife are abuse survivors. God eventually lead him to undertake training as a trauma therapist. Even in retirement, he occasionally walks beside a wounded person who needs a companion in their journey of recovery. He lives in Champaign, Illinois, USA, and can be reached by email.

Other posts by Bruce –

The Problem is Not the Problem

Photo by Fernando Rodrigues on Unsplash



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