Take a very close look at the cycle in the chart above. Many years ago, we at REST Ministries developed this chart. Being a person that was introduced to various forms of abuse at an early age, it has been quite helpful to me. Hopefully, it will be just as helpful to you in understanding the power and effect of outward influences in our lives.
Everything that happens in our lives, whether the occurrences are positive or negative, affects who we are to varying degrees. At REST Ministries, we call these "things" outward influences. We tend to learn and adopt either God’s truths or the enemy’s lies from these external influences. These outward influences help us form conclusions about God, others and ourselves.
The Bible teaches that from our hearts flows a progression of our beliefs, thoughts, feelings, choices and behaviors. When the Bible speaks about our hearts, it’s referring to our minds, free will and our emotions.
“… For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34b NKJV)
Other references: Genesis 8:21; Matthew 12:34-35 and Hebrews 4:12
My dear sisters, no one is exempt from this cycle. A major part of who we are today is the compilation of all that has happened to us, both positively and negatively, throughout the courses of our lives. In turn, we all must learn how to identify the lies we have learned and ultimately come to believe, and replace them with God’s truths. In doing this, God helps us heal from the negative episodes whether they are as a result of our own choices/decisions, or whether they are the result of the actions of those who have sinned against us; thus, putting the Biblical restoration process into action. Outward influences affect our system of beliefs which ultimately determines our behaviors.
After I invited Christ to come into my life, some of my behaviors changed immediately, but other things took a very long time. For years I struggled with anger, fear, shame, guilt, low self-esteem and insecurity. I was afraid to share my past with anyone for fear of rejection. I couldn't understand why, as a Christian, I was still having so many problems. Since I didn't know the cycle, I didn't understand that my personal beliefs were what I needed to confront. I had many negative outward influences in my life that deeply affected me inwardly. Thus, I had learned many lies that needed to be confronted with God's truths.
Some of you may or may not be able to identify with my specific hurts, or with the lies I learned. Yet, unfortunately, each of us has experienced several ordeals which brought about emotional scarring because we live in a hurtful world. Each of us has soaked up many lies, and/or truths from the outward influences we have experienced. I grew up in a non-Christian environment. But, growing up in a Christian environment is not exempt from its unique sets of ordeals and pains. Because we live in a fallen world, all of us endure various injuries in our lifetimes; and we all learn either truth or lies from those external influences (experiences).
Outward influences are (re)occurring situations (positive or negative) that you hear about, witness, or personally encounter from which you foster ideals and beliefs about others, God, and yourself. Three basic outward influences are:
Modeled behavior - Positive or negative behavior that you witness (once or repeatedly) from one person to another, or from others that is not necessarily directed toward you.
Pointed behavior - Behavior that is directed at you.
Incidents – Things that happen to you, or someone else, that you actually observe or just overhear.
This means that we usually learn something from most situations (good or bad) whether they happen once, sporadically, or frequently. We don’t have to be the direct victim to be personally affected. All of these scenarios, which are outward influences, impact us by instilling in us varied beliefs about God, others, and ourselves.
Having a proper view of God and the state of our world will enable us to know and believe truths about God, not lies. It’s important to really think about the outward influences in your life while asking yourself what you honestly believe about God, others, and yourself. In future articles, we will discuss examples of outward influences, communicate more about the effects of outward influences, pinpoint the lies, and focus on how to change the false beliefs that have made grave impressions upon us for far too long.
Abundant Blessings to You My Dear Sisters, Judy