What if you spent your entire life believing a lie about yourself? What if, at every turn, there was someone there whispering to you things like, "you aren't good enough", "you stink", "you'll always be this way", "you are a loser you know", "shut up, no one wants to hear your stupid ideas", "you can't change, it's just who you are?" What would that habit, over time, do to anyone? It's brainwashing but far worse because it is we who utter, or at least repeat, those words day after day.
We all have that voice, to some extent or another, whispering in our mind and poisoning our hearts. Too often that voice is our own even if the words are not ours. We know that if we were to step outside ourselves for just a moment and take a listen, we'd be shocked. We would see ourselves as robots, cadets in a sadistic school of self-hate, repeating self-hate mantras over and over..."I'll always be this way, I'll always be this way, I'll always be this way."
As we've discussed before, those words are never the words of a loving father, the Loving Father. They are always the words of the Father of Lies, always. He repeats them over and over until you and I begin to adopt them as our own. They are the slow steady erosion of the soul. The river, over time, is more powerful and effective than dynamite on the rock and the rock doesn't realize it's being changed.
Thankfully, we can change. We don't have to believe those lies. We no longer have to be trained in that school of self-hate. We can change our brains, ways of thinking, our lives, and those around us. It does take time and practice. You and I didn't develop the self-hate habit overnight and it won't go away overnight either. However, it is possible.
Simple things like dedicated times of meditation and prayer are a good place to start. Simply smiling makes a huge difference. Studies have shown that the very action of smiling, real or not, for extended times, a minute or so, has a positive mental effect. I know it's true from my own life. Regular exercise can also have a great effect on our positive mental health. There are many great books on the science of retraining your brain. My favorite is The Happiness Advantage* by Shawn Achor.
God wants us to be happy and full of joy. You cannot be a saint without a smile. If those internal voices are making you miserable, stop right now, realize that it's not from your Heavenly Father, and ask Him and others for help retraining your brain. It is possible. I'm living proof and I can introduce you to others.
So, you may ask yourself, what has this to do with today's readings. Maybe nothing but today's Gospel really made this idea jump out to me today (hopefully it was the Holy Spirit).
The passage that jumped off the page was this, "And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him." More specifically - "...realizing he had been healed..."
It made me think of the other 9 lepers. For so long they had experienced this terrible disease that even though God had healed them, they continued to live as though they were lepers. How many of us are walking around like that today? How many of us have been healed, baptized, confirmed, received countless graces, yet we continue to believe the lie that we are sick?
Jesus didn't suffer and die on the cross for you and me only to have us walk around saying, "I'm sick, I'll always be this way, I can't change, I'm a terrible person." If the voice in your head, your voice-the liars words, continue to haunt you, run to confession, run to the Eucharist. Go to those sacraments, receive the healing (often), believe you are healed (every day), and return "to give thanks to God" then "Stand up and go" tell those other 9 they too are healed!!
*(This is an affiliate link which means I may receive a financial benefit if you were to purchase this item. I only recommend items that my family has personally used and owned.)