A question that’s often asked: “what do you believe?” A question that is less-often asked but potentially more important: “who do you believe?” Our answer to the latter reveals a lot about our hearts, our identities and, by default, what we believe about a variety of things.
Who do we believe? Who are the people in life that we believe? What voices do we pay attention to? Maybe parents, teachers, people who look us in the eye, relatives, the bully from the playground growing up, professors who believed in us, coworkers, clients, the cynic who stares down their nose, a counselor, acquaintances who tear us down, an abuser, a child who looks up to you, the persuasive commercial that plays every time you’re on YouTube, the random person who shames you, the checkout lady who speaks unexpected life into you. We hear voices and receive messages from people all day and every day. Even on the days we are alone and manage to go the whole day without human interaction, our souls still receive input from the internet, tv, social media, advertisements, and from our very own minds that are so skilled at dredging up words we have heard and re-introducing them at opportune (or highly inopportune) times.
With all of these voices and messages, how can we know who to believe? Even more difficult but more important, how can we determine who it is we already believe? We are the way we are because of who and what we have believed, and identifying those sources is important. Who we believe shapes everything about us. We ought to believe people and sources that we trust, right? That seems like the right answer to the question. If we trust someone, we should believe what they say. Good. End of discussion. But that trust-resulting-in-belief isn’t what I found to be true of myself when I was rolling this around in my brain – it didn’t make sense or line up to me.
I don’t trust that the stranger I meet in public has my good in mind, yet I believe them when they make me feel shamed or stupid.
I don’t trust that the movie industry is looking out for me as a person, yet a part of my heart believes in what their happy movies tell me I need.
I trust my coworkers knowledge, experience, and wisdom, yet I don’t always believe them when they tell me I’m capable of a task.
I trust my parents and their heart for me, yet I don’t always believe them when they tell me I am making a wise decision or a kind choice.
And the great identity-shaper:
I trust Jesus Christ with my life and have seen him, and only him, to be always faithful, consistent, loving, and true, yet I do not always believe what he says about me.
I do not trust the devil and have seen his clever and devious work, yet my heart believes the lies he tells me.
What sort of insanity is this? Why will my heart not believe whom it has trusted?
Who do I allow to dictate who I am, what I believe about myself and others and the world? Who do I believe regarding what is beautiful, true, right, or wrong? There’s a sassy, self-sufficient, prideful way to ask these questions – wherein I believe that I am the only one who should have the right to dictate who I am and have no need to listen to or believe anyone else. This approach clearly means I’ve already believed someone and don’t even realize it, and I’m trapped in my cyclical and poorly-informed mind. But there’s another way to approach these questions – with an inquisitive and humble mind, admitting that my brain and heart are already swayed and influenced by who I believe, and carefully trying to uncover who has influenced me.
The only people it makes sense to believe are those we trust, even when it takes the conscious effort to identify them and believe what they’re saying. Sometimes what they say will almost be too glorious to believe and for that belief we must fight. Sometimes what they say will be painful salt in a hidden wound we love to tend. Whether or not we like what they’re saying is a little bit irrelevant. The truth from trusted mouths isn’t always easy on the ears. Who I believe dictates what I believe about everything. The choice, and the effort, is important. Intentionally let belief follow trust, not vice versa. The heart and the mind are rarely on the same page at the same time, but I so badly want for them to be! I know when I fully believe who is fully trustworthy, my identity, freedom, self-worth, influence, motive, and loves will be profoundly changed and appropriately ordered. I long for the day that I can say, “I believe him whom I have trusted.”