I grew up in the age of cassette tapes and VHS. Stories and music came on tapes that were played, rewound, and played again. My brother and I would record our voices and listen back as we heard our own voices singing songs and telling stories. I now live in this world of Netflix, DVDs, YouTube, and Spotify streaming, but if I’m honest, I still listen to at least two different “tapes” every day. Both tapes are full of statements I tell myself, people’s comments I’ve now ingrained in my memory, opinions and preferences of those I respect, and cultural rhetoric I’ve absorbed. The track listings sound similar, but if you could hit eject on my brain and hold these two mental tapes in your hands, one would be labeled Lies and one would be labeled Truths. And every day, I choose a tape and hit play, rewind, and play again.
The two tapes play at different speeds. The first plays fast, piling the tracks one on top of another in a seamless flow of words. “You’re not worth it.” “They don’t actually want you around.” “You’re not thin enough to be pretty.” “You don’t fit here.” “No one likes you.” “You can’t do it.” The list goes on and on. Lies I tell myself often enough to sometimes forget they are lies. They rush through my mind, taking me back to the moments those words were spoken over me. I clearly remember the tone, the facial expression, and the unspoken response going through my mind.
More often than not, this is my default tape, the tracks blaring loudly through my mind as I muddle through the day.
Play. Rewind. Play again.
I have to intentionally hit eject and switch tapes.
The second tape plays slower and softer, washing through my mind and cleaning out the residue left by the previous tracks. “I’m glad you’re here.” “You’re valuable.” “I like you.” “You did a great job with that.” “You’re worth my time.” This tape has fewer tracks, but they are deep and significant. This tape has been built over long periods of time, culled from moments precious in my memory, composed of indelible, powerful words.
These tapes are mastered and produced by two drastically different entities. The first is all sourced in lies, some from friends, some from society, but all ultimately from Satan. He is the Father of Lies, and he rejoices every time I play this tape over in my head. When I listen to these tracks my mindset changes, my outlook on the day gets drastically more negative, and my interactions with people are short, cynical, sarcastic, and passive aggressive. When I choose the tape of lies, I am choosing to allow sin to reign in that moment. But when I hit eject and switch tapes, I am choosing to live in the truth that God speaks over me.
The base for the tracks on on this second tape comes out of Ephesians, where Paul talks about how God sees me. Chosen. Adopted. Redeemed. Forgiven. Made alive. Purposed for His glory. Predestined. Lavished with grace. Promised an inheritance. Sealed with the Holy Spirit. God sees me as valuable and lovely, worthwhile and wanted. When I fill my mind with these truths, I respond with grace to unexpected circumstances, my outlook is joy-filled, and I speak truth to others in conversation. When I choose the tape of truths, I am choosing life.
This concept of lies and truths was around long before the advent of cassette tapes. In Philippians 4, Paul talks about replacing anxiety and quarrels with prayer and thanksgiving. He tells us to guard our hearts and minds, to dwell on that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul challenges us to take every thought captive to obey Christ. In Ephesians 4, we are taught to put off our old, corrupt selves, and to put on our new selves, renewed in spirit and created in the likeness of God’s truth, righteousness, and holiness.
When Scripture makes a command, we can know two things:
1. The change being asked of us is most likely contrary to our normal habits or natural desires.
2. In Christ and through the Spirit, we are able to accomplish the task.
As a child when I wanted to change the tape I was listening to, I would leave my crayons and coloring book, push up off my stomach, walk over to the tape player, hit eject, and switch tapes. A new story would start, and I would return to my coloring. It’s much harder to hit eject on my brain and change tapes, but it is not impossible, and the end result is much more significant than boring coloring or fun coloring. Living truth matters. My choice to listen to truth instead of lies impacts my outlook on the day and my interaction with others. It’s a choice for sin or for obedience. And it matters. Choose life. Choose obedience. Choose truth.
Eject. Play. Rewind. Play again.