At 36, Elizabeth had more life experience than most women her age. A thriving career, a loving marriage, a bright energetic daughter, and an entourage of friends that loved and supported her.
Yet, when you talked with her or spent any time around her, you felt a disconnect, a brokenness that was difficult to explain. There was the person she wanted you to see (an accomplished professional with a full life) and the reflection of the person she was.
People say you know the person by the company they keep. I think you know the person by how they feed their souls. What they allow into their minds and permit to influence their behavior.
People are what they do in the secret spaces of their hearts. The truth of their lives surface when the pretense that keeps their image intact is revealed.
Elizabeth experienced this unveiling on a Thursday afternoon as her workweek was ending. She was looking forward to the weekend, some scheduled time with her best friend. She glanced at the clock, 5:35 PM, as the phone rang. The display reflected her boss’s number. “Hey Liz, I need to see you in my office?” She gathered her coat and purse, thinking she would leave from his office for home, and made her way to his suite. She knocked gently on the door. He responded, “Come on in!”
As she opened the door, the tension in the room spilled into the hallway. Shadows from the setting sun cast odd shapes on the conference table and adjacent floor. Her boss sat at the head of the table, the Director of HR to his right. A file folder laid between them.
Elizabeth shifted, right then left, until she landed squarely on both feet, “What’s going on?”
He motioned for her to join them at the table. She sat at the opposite end.
Her boss reached for the manila folder and rummaged through the file. He found two pieces of paper and started to read a list of client names accompanied by the dollar amounts that had been taken from each account. Elizabeth’s heart exploded and then dropped to the ground. She had been so careful, small amounts that would fly under the controller’s radar, a total sum of just under $10,000.00.
Thirteen years at the same bank. Elizabeth had grown up there – socially, professionally, and intellectually. Unfortunately, it would be the place where she would be exposed, the pretense of her life laid bare.
You may read this story and determine it’s fiction. Unfortunately, it is based on the truth of women whose lives were destroyed by deception and arrogance. Women who filled their hearts and minds with the seduction of fame, the lure of greed, and the pride of self-reliance.
And before you convince yourself this could never happen to you, let me say, it happened to me. My offense was not criminal. Yet it was just as destructive and damaging.
For decades, I bought the lie that to be personally successful meant I had to be a professional warrior. Every job promotion was a battlefield waiting to be conquered. Every new project a victory to be won. Do you have an unproductive division that needed some motivation, send me. Was there a team that needed redirecting, I was their “true north.” My career gave me purpose, it defined me.
There was no job and I was left with the ugly truth that I had become prideful, arrogant in my abilities, and my efforts would never be enough to fill the void.
Steve Maraboli, recognized as a leading voice in the fields of peak business performance and human behavior writes,
“We must transcend the illusion that money or power has any bearing on our worthiness as children of God.”
Elizabeth bought the lie that taking a little from her clients’ accounts would never be detected. Honestly, she never considered the impact it had on their finances. Her conscience had hardened to the truth that her actions were wrong.
I had bought the lie that driving, pushing, being professionally successful, at the expense of everything else, brought happiness. My fulfillment was derived from my success. My heart had hardened to the truth that my worth was ultimately found in being a child of God.
The world would love to keep us focused on its lies. After all, we are what we feed our souls. What we allow into our minds and permit to influence our behavior.
If we focus on lies then we live a lie.
Yet, there is an alternative. We can choose to leave behind the illusion of worth, value, and power and rest in God’s truth,
1Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:1-6 (New Living Translation)
We can continue to live the lie, but God…
We can linger in our pride, greed, self-reliance, but God…
He offers the truth.
He brings freedom.
Choose to trust Him today.
Be blessed His BeLOVED,
Philippians 4:8-9 (New Living Translation)
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
For additional reading – Philippians 4 NLT – Therefore, my dear brothers and – Bible Gateway
Take a few minutes to consider the following.
- What are you feeding your soul, allowing into your mind, and permitting to influence your behavior?
- If the truth of your life were laid bare, what would it reveal?