There are some things we grew up believing that are outright comical, such as, if you swallow a watermelon seed, a watermelon will grow in your stomach. Or, if you play with your belly button, it will pop open.
While the above examples are laughable, and fairly harmless, (you still shouldn’t play with your belly button), there are other things that aren’t as trivial that we really need to take a closer look at.
Hopefully, shedding some light on these mistruths will help you discern some of the things you thought were true as a child, but aren’t. Here are 10 things to consider:
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1. Beauty Is Everything
This childhood belief is terribly destructive to our emotional health and spiritual wellbeing, as we grow up striving to be beautiful enough, strong enough or simply “enough.”
From using lead eyeliner to coal dust mascara, women have gone to great lengths to cultivate beauty throughout history. But the Bible reminds us that “charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting.” (Proverbs 31:30)
The reason charm is deceptive, is because it is a form of lying. It’s the act of putting on a front in order to gain attention or receive favor. For Christians, the only favor we need is the favor of the Lord.
Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:12)
It is not the outer man that God sees. According to 1 Samuel 16:7, “the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Beauty is not everything. But inward beauty, found in those who fear God and walk in His ways, is something we can believe in.
2. The Pastor Is Always Right
In this article, No, Pastor, We’re Not Always Right, the author shares, “If the church is a priesthood of believers, with multiple ministry gifts, then the pastor isn’t the only person who is able to hear from God for the church. Or speak to the church.”
Remember, the church is made up of people, and people are fallible. Each of us has God-given gifts to glorify the Lord and edify the body. However, we are still human and we still make mistakes.
Humble pastors will always encourage their listeners to “test everything” they say in the light of God’s Word. They will admit they aren’t 100% right all of the time— only God is.
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3. Money = Happiness
“Money is numbers & numbers never end. If it takes money to be happy, your search for happiness will never end!” ~Bob Marley
Money is a difficult subject, in the sense that it’s something we need and something we were taught to value. I imagine most of us grew up watching our parents work hard to make ends meet and try to get ahead.
While money does ease certain burdens in life, it doesn’t equal happiness. The moment we place our happiness on the amount of our next paycheck, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and disillusionment.
Matthew 6:24 says,“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
God is the source of our joy, which is much deeper than circumstantial happiness. When we are devoted to the Lord, and joyful in His provision, money becomes secondary.
4. God Only Helps Those Who Help Themselves
For the longest time, I thought that as long as I made a good effort to be obedient, God would be there to help me. But if I slacked off or made a mistake, He would be far from me. The truth is, God helps those who cannot help themselves. It’s when we are fully dependent on Him, that we are in a place of surrender and obedience.
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13).
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5. You Can Change People
With child-like hope, you may believe you can change others for the better. And honestly, I wish this belief was true! After all, our intentions are good, aren’t they?
But the truth is, we cannot change a single person. Only God can. Once we accept this, we can simply love others and leave the changing of hearts to the Lord.
In the article, How to REALLY Help Someone Change, author Stephen Altrogge says, “The harsh reality is that we cannot cause a person to change. No matter how angry we get, no matter how much we raise our voices, no matter how much huffing and puffing and blustering we do, we cannot cause a person to change. Only God can create true godliness in a person. Only God can bring about repentance. Only God can soften the heart.”
Only God can change hearts. The sooner we believe that, the sooner we can focus on building relationships, and hopefully, leading others into a relationship with Christ.
For encouragement in this, check out the article, The Transforming Power of Christ.
6. If You Do Everything Right You Will be Loved.
So many kids grow up believing that if they perform well, get good grades, and accomplish great things, they will be loved. This belief carries well into adulthood, and often with damaging effects.
- We try to gain favor at work by putting in the most hours.
- We try to impress our friends and family members.
- We try to work our way up the ladder in life and faith.
- We try to do everything we can to be loved and accepted.
The truth is, we were accepted in Jesus Christ, the moment He chose to die for us on the cross—even though we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8) Let’s stop believing that we have to do everything right to be loved. This simply isn’t true. Let’s stop striving and start living in the divine love and acceptance of the Lord!
Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. (Romans 15:7)
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7. Traditions Cannot Be Broken
Some people are naturally drawn to following traditions, while others couldn’t care less. But if you’re someone who feels guilty for not keeping a long-held tradition, you might need to revisit why you believe what you believe.
Keep in mind, family traditions are a combination of attitudes, ideals, and practices, which a person inherits from his/her parents or ancestors. They are man-made, not God-made.
There’s nothing wrong with keeping beloved traditions you hold dear, as long as it’s not in a legalistic manner. Consider letting go of the traditions that have no meaning or value for your life now. You might just find yourself released from an unnecessary, self-imposed burden.
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
8. Kindness Will Make Others Be Kind
My mom is such a sweet person, she raised me to be kind as well. I still remember her advice when some girls were picking on me in middle school. She said, “Kill em’ with kindness.” The advice was to treat my bullies so kindly, they would lose their motivation to keep picking on me. While the idea behind that is a noble one, it doesn’t always work. And there are times when all the kindness in the world won’t make a bit of difference in someone else.
Of course, the Bible commands us to be kind by the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But it doesn’t mean our God-given kindness will automatically change someone else. There needs to be a healthy balance between living in God’s kindness and taking a stand when needed. A person who is always “nice” is vulnerable to compromise. A person who is always kind, by God’s Spirit, knows when to say hard things in love.
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9. Kids Should Be the Center of Attention
Typically, our attention automatically goes to the child in the room, as they are cute, funny, and full of energy. It’s wonderful to spend time with kids and interact with them! However, many families make the crucial mistake of making their kids the center of attention ALL of the time. It’s an underlying belief, for a lot of people, that families are supposed to revolve around the children.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it’s actually damaging for a child to grow up being the center of attention. When real life sets in, and they grow up to realize the world does not revolve around them, they struggle to find their place.
God should be our only center of attention. When kids grow up seeing this lived out, they will have a much better perspective of how they fit into God’s bigger plan, and be less self-centered.
Here’s an interesting article called, Give Your Children All of Your Attention. Some of the Time.
10. Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness
It’s a good thing I never believed this as a child—nor do I believe it now! As a “messy” by nature, I’m afraid my lack of cleanliness would place me furthest from godliness that a person could be.
However, I know a lot of people who believe that cleanliness is next to Godliness, and even go so far to say that it’s found in the Bible. This idea falls in line with other performance-based beliefs, and is an outward attempt to make others think you are more Godly because of certain disciplines.
If we aren’t careful, this belief can lead to Pharisee-like behaviors, which Jesus vehemently warned against.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28)
Jennifer Waddle considers herself a Kansas girl, married to a Colorado hunk, with a heart to encourage women everywhere. She is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayer, and is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesn’t Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth.
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Originally published Friday, 27 December 2019.