I’ve recently learned a big foundational truth from Dr. Baxter Kruger. He said that inside each of us lurks maladaptive beliefs about ourselves he calls our “I am not’s.” These I am not statements are core beliefs that create the foundation for the lies we believe about ourselves. Here are a few common ones: I am not good enough. I am not thin enough. I am not loved enough. I am not smart enough…and the list goes on and on. For myself, I identified two of mine as being I am not safe, and I am not going to have enough.
I know there are others, but those two stand out because I realize they form the foundation for my fear, selfishness, and anxiety. I see these as being created in the crucible of my unstable childhood, which was full of lack, trauma, and uncertainty. Somewhere along the line, I developed a belief system that says I must take care of myself because no one else is going to. I don’t want to think this way, but that childhood I was not run deep.
But here’s the thing, I no longer want my I am not’s to overrun Jesus’ I Am’s. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m happy to introduce you to seven power-house claims made by Jesus in the Book of John: Jesus said: 1. I am the Bread of Life (John 6). 2. I am the Light of the World (John 8). 3. I am the Door (John 9). 4. I am the Good Shepherd (John 10). 5. I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11). 6. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14). 7. I am the True Vine (John 15).
For us Bible nerds, we see how all these statements parallel back to the Israelites being led by Moses. But it doesn’t take a theologian to recognize the power in these statements. We will not have to go hungry if Jesus promises He is our Bread of Life. If He is the door, we go through Him to abundant life. And if He is my Light, we no longer have to walk in darkness. But as I look at His promise to be our Good Shepherd, it finally hits me just how powerful His I Am’s are.
If Jesus promises He is the Good Shepherd, my first two I am not’s are annihilated. Jesus’ claim to be our Good Shepherd is an obvious nod to Psalm 23, which says: “The Lord is (current tense) my (this is personal) Shepherd; I shall not be in want.” In this promise, I find that my Good Shepherd always provides for me. That makes my belief that I’m not going to have enough null and void. It also says, “Even if I walk through a very dark valley, I will not be afraid because you are with me. Your rod and your shepherd’s staff comfort me. You prepare a meal for me in front of my enemies….” That sounds like protection to me!
I am safe. I am provided for. Because Jesus’ I am’s trumps my I am not’s. I lack no good thing because He is my Good Shepherd. And neither do you. But here’s a truth bomb: even though we are safe and provided for, we will only live and enjoy that truth to the extent we believe it. We create stress for ourselves when we don’t believe it. We become like Chicken Little.
Our peace will be found to the degree that we allow His I am’s to permeate our belief system. This is challenging because the lies we believe feel an awful lot like the truth. But that’s a blog for another day. For now, spend some time in prayer, identify some of your I am not’s, and see which of His I am’s challenge those falsehoods.