The world can feel backwards right now. It feels upside down, if I’m telling the truth. And, as believers, we’re wondering how to do we take what we observe about Jesus and make it true in real life. Hayley Morgan has noticed this, too, and she calls this upside-down backwardness an “integrity gap” and observes that there is a stark difference between Christians knowing something and really deep-down understanding something. There is often a disconnect between our heads and our hearts. It’s a grace to welcome Hayley to the farm’s front porch today…
My husband, Mike, is always finding insightful videos online, and he found a YouTube account called Smarter Every Day.
It all started when his friend Barney, a welder, gave him a gift. Wearing Carhartt jackets in a chilly garage, several friends and coworkers gathered to watch it all unfold. They all wondered what would happen.
You see, Barney had fashioned a bike for his buddy Destin.
He had welded gears to the body and the bars, meaning that the handlebars, although they looked the same, functioned backward.
The nervous laughter was heady. You could see the steam of their breath as they chuckled and gathered in a circle. Everyone was passing the bike around, swiveling it back and forth as though to do a quick hand-eye coordination test. The men looking on wondered how hard it could be to ride a backward bike. As it turns out—very hard!
Like most of us, Destin knew how to ride a standard bike. He’d learned twenty-five years earlier, in the fading sunlight of an autumn evening. His smile was as bright and wide as the stripe on his 1980s sweatshirt when his six-year-old self finally figured it all out.
We all remember that feeling. Instead of wobbling back and forth, something clicks. We find our balance, and then we glide away forever.
They say some things are “just like riding a bike”—meaning that you never forget.
Now, intellectually, Destin knew how to ride this backward bike. Instead of the standard “turn left, go left” and “turn right, go right,” it should be the opposite.
When he turned the bars to the left, the wheel should go to the right. When he turned the bars to the right, the wheel should go to the left. It’s a simple thing to see and know. He could have spouted off in a quick speech how he was planning to ride this crazy backward bike.
It all sounded easy enough, so Destin hopped on the bike before a crowd of cold, but good-humored onlookers. He sat his rear end on the seat and pushed off. Destin didn’t last two whole seconds before the tire slid out from under him, causing him to plant his foot on the ground for balance, effectively ending the bike ride before it even got started.
Like a six-year-old, Destin tried again.
The second time wasn’t even marginally better. Picture it—a grown man getting on a bike confidently and falling off in a matter of seconds. He was giggling like a child, but inside he was embarrassed and frustrated that his mind was not taking the information it knew and transferring it into something his whole self understood.
Now, isn’t that something we all want to know? Why can’t our brains take something we intellectually know, something that seems easy, and process it into something we just get with our whole selves.
We’ve all experienced the difficulty of putting our head knowledge into life practice. As I was learning about Destin’s difficulty with this backward bike, I deeply identified with his frustration.
How many times in my life had I been confronted with the fact that I knew what I needed to know but still couldn’t make those things happen?
Many people who believe in God get stuck here, finding the rich Christian life out of their grasp. They may hit this point of frustration, but at some point, they relent and settle. One cannot struggle in frustration forever, so they keep God in their heads and tuck away the hope of ever knowing Him in their hearts.
They intellectually believe in God, but they do not functionally experience His presence or His goodness in their life.
If we get stuck here, we’re giving up before the going gets good.
We’re settling for less of Jesus—and a diminished Jesus is not the true Jesus at all.
It’s not just you or me. There is a dissonance in the life of every believer.
I’ve heard it called an integrity gap or even hypocrisy. In my Christian life, the words integrity and hypocrisy have felt loaded and burdensome. But this idea of an integrity gap is describing what it’s like when our heads and our hearts are not lined up.
The way we move our heads and our hearts into alignment is the same way Destin learned to ride that backwards bike.
It took him more than a year of daily practice to move from the knowledge of how to ride the backwards bike to the understanding to actually do it.
This is the life with Jesus.
It’s a beautiful practice of taking our thoughts captive and renewing our minds.
And, while these are ancient truths found in Scripture, these practices are not dusty artifacts. This is the work of the Christian life.
We take the bad news we tell ourselves, we notice it, and then we pull it into alignment with the truth of God.
We preach to ourselves.
We tell ourselves the truth.
In this work, this daily practice, the Spirit is making us more like Christ.
We go from getting it intellectually to understanding the truth in our hearts and deep in our bones.
Halellujah, He is good.
Hayley Morgan is a speaker and entrepreneur who reminds women what is true of God and themselves. She is coauthor of the bestselling book Wild & Free and just launched Preach to Yourself, a new message of freedom helping women break the cycle of doubt, take God at His word, and talk back with truth.
It has been said that the eighteen inches from head to heart is the soul’s longest journey. Our head knows the good news is true, but our heart struggles to believe it, and it is in this gap that we battle to believe the promises of God. In Preach to Yourself: When Your Inner Critic Comes Calling, Talk Back with Truth, she tackles it head-on to discover how we can renew our minds to renew our lives. For every woman who struggles with repetitive, negative self-talk, this book will show you how to identify the toxic loops where you get stuck and replace them with the truth of God we can believe with our whole selves.
This is not a “try harder” reprimand, it’s a “believe better” invitation: to take God at His word when He tells you who you are. Come along and learn a simple practice to break free from the lies holding you back, and step forward into the fullness of life God has planned.
[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan for their partnership in today’s devotion ]