Have you ever seen the movie “A Beautiful Mind”? It is the story of math genius John Nash, who overcomes years of suffering through schizophrenia to win a Nobel Prize. It is a powerful story that I’ve come to love even more over the years since first watching the film.
The story really is about a man who believes a lie. This lie comes in the form of three persons who do not exist, but he believes do exist. He has conversations with them, they tell him their thoughts on his life’s choices and give unsolicited feedback on various circumstances in his life. They, these three persons, visit him for years and years. And he very much believes in them. In many ways, they shape him.
John meets a woman and falls in love and the two end up getting married. Through his relationship with her, John begins to fight his schizophrenia and his wife seeks to be a voice of truth against the barrage of lies he believes.
She has to fight fiercely for the truth for her husband. In one particular scene she is standing on the stairs and he is at the bottom, next to one of the characters in his mind. He yells, “she’s right here, she is real!” His wife responds, “Look at me, trust me, she isn’t there, no one is there!” “but she’s standing right next to me?” “John, look at me! believe me! She is not real!” John looks down again at the girl next to him and realizes for the first time that she has never changed her clothes and has never aged. He realizes in that instance that this girl is a lie. He realizes it, because he chose to listen to the voice of the one who loves him. A voice he trusts.
I don’t know about you, but I have at times felt like John Nash. No I don’t have schizophrenia in any form, nor do I pretend to know what that is like, but I do know what it is like to take hold of a lie as though it were the truth. I think we can each think of a list of things we’ve chosen to believe about God, self or others that simply isn’t true. God is holding out on me. I wasn’t made beautifully and wonderfully. And everyone else is threat in some way, because they could get what I want before I do.
These lies and so many others are formed deep within and we begin to build our lives around them as though they are truth. So instead of wrapping our lives around the truth of Jesus and who are to Him. We allow ourselves to be tangled by a web of lies that binds rather than frees.
We live into the lies as though they are our personal truth.
I’ve battled a certain set of lies for a long time. Most had to do with the question of where does my worth or value come from or the question of what will cause love to be taken away from me. I built entire systems to avoid loosing worth or having love taken away.
Just like John Nash, I was entangled by a web of lies that kept me from living. And just like John Nash, I too had to listen to the voice of one who loved me to see that I was not living in truth. Jesus says, “the truth will set you free.” I believe that with all of my heart. The truth does lead toward personal freedom.
I had to address a long set of lies and had people help in the process. Ultimately it came down to me choosing to believe that Jesus speaks the truth and anything contrary to His words does not hold truth. I had a rubric for discerning what was a lie and what was truth. Anything that seeks to kill, steal or destroy in both the long term, more than likely not true. Those things that lead toward life in both the short and long term, true.
John Nash fought fervently the battle for his mind, his wife fought with bravery as well and he overcame, to win a Nobel Prize. But the movie paints the reality of the situation. John Nash was not freed from the temptation to believe the lie, he just simply knew he needed to look for the truth. At the end of the film, he was leaving Princeton where he had received his award. As he walked across the courtyard John looks to the side and sees all three characters from his mind standing there. He sees them, looks ahead, looks back to them and keeps on walking as though to say, “you don’t own me any more.” The reality is the lie didn’t leave, the lie just lost it’s power.
A lot of times when we battle various beliefs in our own minds we believe that we will be set free from them and never struggle again. This itself is a lie. It is deceiving, because it leads one to place their hope in freedom from struggle itself. The truth is, even when we’ve been given freedom from the power of a lie in our personal lives, the lie may present itself over and over again, because we live in a fallen world. Much of our very culture is formed on a lie. And just like John Nash, we will face the lie before us with a choice. How will I respond? Will I choose to believe the lie offered and give it power over me or will I choose to walk away and take hold of the truth and freedom found in Jesus.