What I Believe

written by Chris Hartenstein
For the last two years, I have wrestled with the thought that God is done with me. It has been off and on; sometimes a whisper, or a pervasive attack. It whispers to me when I sit down to create, write a blog, prepare to teach, sit with a man in need of counsel, listen to honor another's story, love on my wife, parent my kids, and lead the business or ministry. At some point in time, I have heard the message, “God is done with me,” in every area of my life.

I don’t remember the exact moment it started or when I noticed it. One day, I realized my behavior in some situations had just begun to change. To be real, it is pretty easy for me to believe the message. I know my failings and shortcomings. I know my past. I remember times I have hurt folks; when I have directly disobeyed my Dad’s leadership and instructions. I see how I need to improve in my teaching and writing style, husbandry, leadership, and parenting. How I need to learn how to “be better” in many ways. And honestly, I can see God just being like “Alright, that's enough time, we're done”. “Hartenstein! out of the pool!” As a recovering “Older Brother,” (Read more about the Older Brother HERE), my core beliefs always gravitate towards performance, hitting the mark, being effective, getting it right, and perfection. I know I am much better at running a business and making money than I am at just about anything so my thoughts go to - “Just stick to that. It is your lot in life. Make money, and strive for the life that you want. A life that is simple, fun, generous, adventurous, and, along the way, make it as impactful as possible. Be a good dude, do the right thing. Love God, Love others. Take care of your family. Launch your kids into their lives.” It sounds pretty nice, and yet it is based on a lie. A belief that isn’t bringing life but slavery. And so I believe in this narrative: If God is done with me, and I get it, make the best of what life I have left.    

Now, I know, you know that I know, this isn't my Dad’s truth. I get that but, the reality is, that it impacts the way I live my life. Who my Dad has “fearfully and wonderfully handcrafted,” the purposes for which I was created, even my belief in my core identity shifts a few degrees off of True North. I fight this “lie”, sometimes on some days. I am not always mindful of what I believe every moment of the day. This garbage slithers in and nests in my spirit and heart before I know it. It lays eggs and those little devils hatch at the most opportune times. They are always trying to confirm the false narrative playing in my head and heart. When I chose to believe this lie, it drastically changed my behavior. I would shy away from opportunities to speak, share my heart, engage with others, write a blog post, anything and everything that was designed to be done with my Dad. Why? Because this lie is running through my head and heart. I hate it! Want it to stop, and yet, something in me continues to allow this in.  

During the battles (prayer, reading my identity, statement, listening to my Dad’s words) some simple but, profound truths came to light. They have been a huge help and I encourage you to chew on them!

What I believe is what is behind my behavior. Plain and simple. If I do something, it's because I believe something. My actions have a whole network of beliefs behind them.  

So that begs the question: what can I surmise about what I believe based on my actions? As I look at what I do, what does it say about what I believe?

More and more I am asking myself (and others) “what do I believe?” Why? Because I want a deeper understanding of what I do. Just like in the example I have been sharing but, also around how I respond or react to different situations, how I handle trauma to my heart, conflict, dissension, crisis, etc. I find myself repeating behaviors I don’t like or self-defeating. I truly want to change my behaviors to be more life-giving and Christ-like but, quite honestly, I continually fail. If I want “Life to the full” (John 10:10) and Jesus promises it to me, where is it?    

So I go back to… What I believe is behind my behavior. As I look at what I do, what does it say about what I believe?

What are the beliefs behind my behaviors?

- What are some behaviors you have tried and not been able to change in your life?
- At first blush, what are some beliefs that might fuel these behaviors?
- What is your reasoning behind the answer to question number two?
- Ask your heavenly Dad question number one and listen. Then write down his answer.
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