There are times in our lives where we find ourselves in circumstances which we cannot figure out how we ever got there. We wake up one morning realizing our life has not turned out the way we hoped or the way we planned.
My friend Suzy was such a person. She sat in her room utterly dejected, not knowing where to go and uncertain if she wanted to move forward. She was only 27-years old, but mentally exhausted and without hope.
She came to me asking many questions, one of which was how did her life become so tangled. Not knowing her, I listened to her story. As I listened I began interpreting her life through a biblical grid while mapping out her main life themes on my computer screen.
The Mind Map below sums up our conversation, showing the trajectory of her life. The map reads from left to right. It is the same for all of us. There are two possible paths we can take: (1) a self-reliant path (2) or a God-reliant path.
Suzy chose the lower road of self-reliance, which led her down a degenerative path toward self-destruction. During our counseling I began mapping out for her the high road–a regenerative path toward Christ-likeness.
Keep the beginning in mind
A popular self-improvement teaching over the past forty years has been keeping the end in mind. There is some merit to this teaching if the end a person is keeping in mind is Christ-likeness–the goal for all Christians (Philippians 3:12).
There is another teaching, which is not as popular, but is just as important if you want your life to turn out well. It’s called keeping the beginning in mind. This belief teaches how you begin a process will determine how you end.
What you are today is not disconnected from what you were yesterday and what you are today will influence what you will become tomorrow. Do you see the continuity of life’s choices?
Your days are not random or arbitrary moments disconnected from your past, present, or future. How you thought and what you did in the past has a direct bearing on who you are today.
This most definitely was the case with Suzy. What she is today is directly connected to the person she has been for many years. Her starting point–what she functionally believes about God and herself–has led her down an expected path. Sadly for her, the path has been self-destructive.
A presupposition is a thought, truth, or known quantity which a person believes. This belief becomes the controlling system of thought for a person, which influences and determines all of the succeeding things she says or does.
You could say a person’s presupposition is her theology–how she thinks about God. Her theology can be biblical, unbiblical, or a mixture of both. Whatever her presupposition is, it’s most definitely the beginning of her journey and it will set the trajectory for her life.
For the Christian there are two conflicting presuppositions or theologies–who we were in Adam and who we are in Christ. Because we are not entirely sanctified there will always be competing presuppositions (theologies) until Jesus returns.
Initially we were born with one presupposition–a self-reliant world view. After we were born a second time (John 3:7), we were given another presupposition–a new starting point. This is a God-reliant world view.
Because of these two competing world views, it’s imperative we are aware of them and that we know how to daily repent from a self-reliant presupposition to a God-reliant presupposition.
Some Christians do not have a clear understanding of these competing world views. In such cases, they typically become stuck in a self-reliant presupposition. This becomes their predominant way of thinking. This is what happened to Suzy.
Suzy’s predominant presupposition
Suzy’s journey and life circumstances had shaped her into a self-reliant person. It’s really not important how she became this way. The important thing to know is she is self-reliant and has been unwilling and/or afraid to fully trust God.
It’s also not that important to know why she has not fully trusted God with her life. Maybe she was afraid to do so. Maybe she has been angry at God. Maybe she has been ignorant of how to trust God. Maybe it’s been a combination of all three of these things–fear, anger, ignorance.
Sometimes people make too much of their past. If you are caring for someone who has a hard time trusting God and their self-reliant choices have led them down a path of destruction, you only need to spend enough time understanding their past. You cannot change what has happened.
Once you begin understanding their past, you can now move them forward. You can’t change the past, but you can change the future and that is where you want to spend most of your time.
This is where the doctrine of repentance becomes essential. You’ll see this in the center section of the Mind Map. Repentance is the transitional piece which allows a person to go from a self-reliant world view to a God-reliant world view.
I have a one hour webinar on our Member Site which teaches a person how to repent (change). Be sure you have a masterful understanding of this teaching. It is essential. You cannot change if you do not know how to change.
I also have another Mind Map on Christian Maturity, which practically fleshes out how to change. This webinar on repentance and Mind Map on how to be a mature Christian will serve you well.
Taking the low road
There were three main reasons why Suzy was shaped into a self-reliant person. She was born this way (Adam); she was shaped this way (family), and she was influenced this way (culture).
All of us are born in Adam. Part of what it means to have an Adamic nature is we trust ourselves more than God. Every human begins life this way. This is why we have a Gospel–to bring us from death to life.
Suzy was also shaped to be self-reliant by her parents. The family dynamic is the initial and most influential shaping dynamic during the formative years of a child’s life.
Being born a rebel (Adamic), along with poor biblical training (family dynamic), and the influence of her culture–the third reason she has been self-reliant, all worked in concert to create Suzy’s world view of doing things her way.
She was reared in a Christian culture, but Christianity was not the driving practical influence of her life. The cares of this world choked the Bible’s light and the Spirit’s power.
Because of her weak faith in God, her desires and thoughts were not God-centered. Kind will seek out kind and this is what happened to Suzy. She began to build a team of companions who were similar to her.
Her team of companions did not influence her toward a strong faith. Though there were solid Christians scattered throughout her life, they did not carry the practical weight to trump her Adamic tendencies, her negative family influences, and the culture’s pressure to conform to its world view.
Her team of influencers were not just people. Her team was varied, all designed to inebriate her mind into self-reliant thinking. The books she read, the movies she saw, the sports she participated in, and the music she listened to, all worked together to captivate her thinking.
It’s important to note here that Suzy is not a victim. She will not be able to say, “I’m this way because of my family and my culture.” She is the way she is because she has made life choices based on her presupposition. She is an adult who loves to be in control–doing things her way.
Who am I?
We are a product of our companions–those things and people we surround ourselves with, which serve to influence us. Someone once said, “Tell me what a person reads and who his friends are and I will tell you what kind of person he is.”
That is an accurate statement. In counseling one of the things you want to do is find out what companions have had the most influence in a person’s life. Once you list the person’s companions, you’ll then have an accurate assessment of who the person is.
Suzy’s companions for the most part were not God-centered, God-loving, God-focused, and God-desiring influences. To varying degrees her influencers trained her to look out for number one. She had fully bought into the self-esteem gospel.
She esteemed herself, her life, her desires, her dreams, and her plans most of all. This kind of high self-estimation can only lead to destruction. Suzy was a self-centered girl who expected the world to revolve around her.
For the most part, life was all about her. The bad news was that her world was not cooperating. She should have anticipated the world she loved to live in would not embrace her high view of herself or be so willing to meet all of her desires.
This was Suzy’s main problem. She was a self-centered girl who expected life to go according to her dream. Besides, she had invested a lot of time controlling her world so all things would turn out the way she wanted and when things didn’t, she was devastated.
Reorienting the mind
Suzy needed to make a world view shift. She needed to go from a self-reliant theology to a God-reliant theology. The first day we met I gave her a one-year assignment going through Wayne Grudem’s Bible Doctrine systematic theology book, answering every question in the book.
The purpose of this long-term assignment was for her to learn about God. She had God-deficient thinking. Her world view had been shaped by her desire to be in control. She needed to plunge into the deep end of God and not come up until her mind was totally saturated by Him.
If your starting point determines your ending point, which it does, then she needed a more sure starting point. I was trusting God to change her presupposition, which meant she needed to have faith for something else besides herself.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. – Romans 10:17 (ESV)
She needed a new theology. Her foundation (presupposition) was weak and because of this she had gone down a bad path. I wanted to put her on the high road to Christ-likeness.
A big piece of this process is repentance. To repent is to change and she needed to change her world view, which meant we needed to get inside some of her thought patterns–the desires and thoughts which fed her mind.
I’ve listed some of the things we addressed, which you can see in the repentance section of the Mind Map, e.g., fear, lusts, anger, jealousy, and vengeance. Because self-reliant living is irrational, as well as impossible, there has to be relational breakdowns in a person’s life.
Suzy’s life had many relational breakdowns, which led to the aforementioned sins of the mind. As she began to repent of these inordinate affections, her mind began to be free to enjoy God.
Building your team
Simultaneous to the mind work she was doing, she was also changing her companions–the main influencers in her life. Because our companions influence our mind, part of how you reorient your mind is to change your companions.
Her new companions–the Spirit, Bible, Church, Christ-centered music, prayer, and friends, became big players in her process of change. They all worked together to create a new knowledge base which led to new patterns of living (called application in the Mind Map).
In time she became more wise and less foolish in her thinking. Her new world view began to change her identity. She did not have to be number one any more. She did not have to be served (Mark 10:45).
Her growing affections for Christ began to radiate from her countenance. She was evolving into Christ-likeness. For the first time in her life she was becoming less needy and demanding and more giving and considerate.
One of the best templates in Scripture which communicates this is found in Galatians 5:22-23–the fruit of the Spirit. This kind of fruit is born out of a heart which is God-reliant.
My friend, Suzy, was changing the end of her life because she was willing to do what it took to change her starting point. This does not mean she will get everything she wants. It does mean she will be satisfied with what God gives her.
Being God-reliant does not mean you will be a success in this world, according to the culture’s understanding of success. It does mean you will be a success with God (Joshua 1:8).
Success with God begins with peace. The God-reliant person is at peace with God, self, and others. Suzy is heading in this direction. She is in process of changing her presupposition, which will happen in proportion to her repentance. Per chance you think of her, please pray for her. God knows her real name.