Belief Series: (Part 12) – The Role of Memory and Heart Belief
Memory provides us important information that can help us identify our core belief.
The content of the memory (what we remember having happened), as well as the assumptions and conclusions we came to believe, provide information that help us identify our heart belief. Without the proper memory content, we will arrive at faulty assumptions and conclusions about why we feel what we feel in our current life situations.
If we only ascribe the cause of our feelings to our current situations, it would be logical for us to blame our parent, spouse, fellow workers, our car’s dead battery or the neighbor’s barking dog for what we feel. We would then remain in a perpetual loop of responding negatively to situations due to lie-based beliefs. When we say to a parent, spouse or fellow worker, “You make me so [emotion]!” or similar statements that blame others, we are expressing our ignorance of what is really going on.
No one makes us feel anything; we feel what we believe. Our current situation does not cause our feelings, but our heart belief does. In a ministry session, we need to identify our heart belief, but to do this, we also need to understand how and why we came to that belief. This is where memory comes in.
Interpreting Life, Developing Core Belief
As explained earlier, throughout our childhood, meaning or interpretation is given to our life experiences. We don’t ascribe meaning to all of them, but simply remember them as something that happened and nothing more. On the occasions when we do ascribe meaning to an experience, it is because we have interpreted it from one of two perspectives: either self-identity or state-of-being.
Children unknowingly ask self-identity questions such as, “What does this say about me?” “Do I have worth or value?” “Am I lovable, accepted?” They also ask state-of-being questions such as, “What does this situation tell me about my condition?” “Am I safe, in control, protected?”or “Am I in danger, out of control, helpless, abandoned?” As children, we do not realize that our state-of-being beliefs are about God, yet they are.
Let me illustrate: A man comes home from work tired and ready for his easy chair. He just wants a little “down time” to make the transition from being the office manager to being a husband and father. His little girl hears him come in the front door and runs excitedly to greet him. In her hand she holds the picture that she drew for daddy as her special “homecoming” gift. She calls out, “Daddy, look what I made you!” Through his fatigue he says, “Not now. I’m tired. Just run along and play.” In that moment she will interpret what just occurred. She may rightfully conclude, “Daddy is just tired, but he really loves me and will look at my picture later.” However, she may conclude, “He doesn’t care about my drawing. I’m not important to him, so therefore, I am worthless.” This interpretation of her self-identity then becomes a core belief by which she interprets many more life experiences in the future. Twenty years later her husband comes home and drops down on the couch never saying a word about the house being cleaned and in order. Her assumption and conclusion: “I am not important to him.” She came to this explanation for her husbands behavior by way of her heart belief: “I am worthless.”
In this way, a heart belief is established when life events and situations are interpreted from a self-identity perspective, a state-of-being perspective, or both. Where there is no interpretation ascribed to a situation, no heart belief is established. In these cases, the life event becomes just another memory of a life experience with little or no future impact.
A terrible day on the school bus
I had a childhood experience that literally changed the course of my life. In this one event I established a host of lie-based heart beliefs that became the lens through which I viewed many of my life experiences thereafter. I have visited this memory an untold number of times and discovered a host of lies that I had carried throughout my adult life. Prior to the event I was a solid “A” student in school. Following this event, my school grades faltered and I barely ever rose above the failing mark. I became a recluse in school, friendless and alone—all because I believed lies. However, as I have applied TPM over the years, I have experienced a glorious amount of freedom through the truth given me by the Spirit.
When I was twelve years old, I remember taking the bus to school each morning. I know this is the truth because riding that bus was my experience. No one can talk me out of this, because it’s what I believe happened: experiential Belief. There was no interpretation given to the experience, and my daily bus ride had little or no impact on the rest of my life.
However, in the middle of December, 1963 (just shortly after President Kennedy was assassinated), I was riding this same bus home when a tragic accident occurred. An irresponsible bus driver allowed several of us children to stand in the door well of the bus. While we were going down the highway, the bus door opened suddenly, and then was immediately closed by the driver. The bus driver harshly sent us all back to our seats. However, deep within my heart, I knew that something terrible had just occurred.
A little boy had fallen off the bus and lay in a coma by the side of the road. Meanwhile, back in my seat, frozen in fear, I remained quiet and still. Later that night, the school officials and local police came to my house, seeking to understand what had happened. After a week of daily intensely interrogating me, they fired the bus driver, but a portion of the blame was shifted over to those of us who were standing in the doorway —or at least that was how I believed it to be. We were inadvertently blamed for the incident because we were not in our seats. As a consequence, I was led to believe that I had done something terribly wrong.
Luckily, the little boy survived and I assume he is still alive today. That particular bus ride changed my life from that point forward. Why? Not because of what happened, but rather because of the interpretation I gave it.
I walked away from that experience with many different lie-based heart beliefs. Because of what occurred, and the harsh interrogation from the authorities, I believed that I was bad (self-identity). Because of a long week of berating interrogations from really BIG policemen, I felt powerless and helpless and that bad things were going to happen (state of being lies). Because my parents did not intervene, I believed that I was all alone, abandoned, and unprotected (state-of-being lies). What I remember having happened is my experiential belief, but how I understood what I believe happened and the reason why I felt what I continued to feel, is because of the the interpretation I gave these things. My lasting interpretation became my heart beliefs.
Intellectual belief has no Impact on what we believe with our hearts.
A long time prior to personally applying TPM to my own life, I had come to an accurate intellectual understanding of the bus event. I knew with my intellect that the sole responsibility for that accident was on the shoulders of that bus driver. He made a bad decision in allowing children to ride in the door well. None of the children, including me, bore any of the responsibility for that tragic event.
I also knew with my intellect that I was not a bad boy because of what happened that day. I came to realize that even though I was being wrongly treated by the interrogators then, was “trapped” and saw no way out, I was no longer in that situation. I knew that the interrogation was long over. Although I came to the truth of the story intellectually, the lies I came to embrace in my heart remained, and continually impacted me each time they were triggered in my day-to-day life.
Something would happen in my adult life which would “trigger me” and I would then feel fearful, worthless, abandoned, and alone. There were later other times in my life when someone would question me in a direct, “interrogative” tone, and I would immediately feel like a twelve-year-old boy sitting under the lights in the school office being yelled at by that “giant” police officer. Whenever I revisited those memories, I always felt bad. I knew the truth logically and intellectually, but my heart belief was contrary to my intellectual belief, and affected me a great deal.
No amount of intellectual truth could deter the emotional reaction I had when those lies were touched. Not until I was able to hold them up in the light of Christ and receive His perspective did I find release. Today, as far as I can tell, that memory no longer triggers any falsehood. There is now real change in the way I respond in those situations where the lies I learned in the bus experience would typically surface. It is a genuine and lasting transformation in my daily life. Truth is good.