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By: Shirley Hartnett

There's a universal truth, or commandment, that all fiction stories begin with a lie the character believes and the truth they must know. This is sometimes called The Fatal Flaw or Shard of Glass, making the story about the trials, tribulations, and roadblocks the character goes through to get to the truth.

I’ve been writing for ten years. That’s a lot of lies and truth. The funny thing is, I've never thought to look within my own life for "the fatal flaws or shards of glass" until recently. What are the lies I've believed and the truth that set me free?

My first lie: I am not athletic. I never did any sports in high school, college, or throughout my adult life—until I turned 55. Yes, I am that old. (I blame this on menopause, but it could be a variety of things). This year I will be 68. I know, I know, women don’t usually tell their age. In a triathlon, they use a black magic marker and put your age on the back of your leg and your upper arm, so everyone knows your age. But even more astonishing than my age is the fact that I didn’t know how to swim, bike, or run when I signed up. So, I hired a trainer.


At my first training for the triathlon run, I wore boots! (In my defense it was raining). My coach rolled his eyes and said, "Sneakers, at all times."

During my first swim session, my coach confronted me because I didn’t know how to swim. I asked him "how hard can it be? Dogs do it." I'd never learned because I was caught in a rip-tide when I was very young.

For my bike session, I brought a one-speed bike with a kickstand. Again, my coach rolled his eyes.

I learned early on that you don’t swim with glasses. However, I need my glasses. My coach said to swim to the big orange buoy and then swim back. When I got to "the buoy" I realized it was actually a person’s swim cap.

A few of the medals I've earned!

I went on to do races, triathlons, and Ironmans. 

Truth opposed the lie: I am athletic. I have over 50 medals for the races I have done and I've competed in races that don't distribute medals. I have a shirt that says, PIE OF THE CENTURY. I did this race because it was Pie of the Century, I am a physics and math professor and you get pie. This was a no brainer for me!

A physics + math professor = Pie of the Century Shirt!

Evidence taught me the truth, but giving up this lie taught me a deeper fundamental truth—what I am capable of is more than I ever dreamed, hoped for, or conceived. This brought me absolute freedom.

My second lie: I believed that I am not funny.

A friend told me I’m funny, but I didn’t believe it.

I went to all my friends; my tribe, my people. The people I love, trust, and value in this world and they all said I was funny. I was challenged: do I believe the lie, or all my friends?

The Truth: I am funny.

This truth taught me who and what I value in this world.

My third lie: I’m an introvert. This lie is the hardest one. I know, I know, what could possibly be harder than an Ironman. But this lie has been with me for 60 years—60 years! An introvert is someone who is shy, has a quiet reserved demeanor, avoids social situations, and prefers solitude.

After I signed up to do a speech with the Toastmaster's group I belong to every part of me, that is, every fiber of my being, wanted to run away and hide in my shell. I never wanted to come out, but that was because of fear. This was not because I am an introvert, I was scared.

The truth: I am not an introvert according to the definition. This changes how I have defined myself my entire life.

What are the lies you believe?

Finding the truth allowed me to get rid of the lies but I also learned so much more.

  • I learned what I am capable of, which is so much more than I ever thought, dreamed, conceived, or hoped for.

  • I learned who I value and what I value in this life.

  • I redefined myself. 


  • Do you know what you are capable of, which is so much more than you thought?

  • Do you know who and what you value in this life?

  • Are you defining yourself according to God's Truth?

We #Ariseempowered when we allow God to expose the lies we've believed. Then we shake off any remnants of fear left behind that prevent us from trying something new. What do you believe about yourself that is a lie?

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