Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Demolishing the thickest wall

It's the hardest, thickest barrier to freedom from a lifetime of bondage to the addiction of trying to run everyone else's life, of feeling responsible for the bad choices of our loved ones, of trying to manage far more than we were created to manage.  And it's not what you might think.  

It's not resentment, as thick and strong a wall as that is.  Resentment can be a great hindrance to freedom, and has caused many a person to stay in bondage.  

I believe that an even stronger wall is the one built, brick by brick, from the time we are children.  It comes from the words that are said, the words that aren't said, the physical contact we are or are not given, the hateful looks and other injuries we receive from parents, teachers, peers.  It is debilitating, and it discourages us from even starting the journey.

It's shame.

Every person has that one spot in his or her life (and some have way more than one) - that tender area, where shame exists and feeds on the spirit, eroding hope.  

Just so we all know what I mean by shame, I don't mean guilt.  Guilt (whether earned or unearned -hmm, that might be a different post) is feeling badly for something that you have done.  Shame is feeling bad for who you are.  Guilt says I've done a bad thing.  Shame says I AM a bad person.  

Guilt has its purpose (if it is earned): to bring us to a place of 'repentance' which simply means changing direction (doing a 180ยบ turn).  Shame, on the other hand, serves NO useful purpose.  None.  Zip.  Nada.  It paralyzes us, keeps us from believing we can get better, keeps us from trying to connect with our selves and with God.  It holds us back from helping others in a meaningful way: not as a rescuer, but as an equal, a friend, someone real.  

Realizing that shame was never intended for us to experience is one step toward being rid of it.  But I speak from experience when I say that it is impossible to completely rid ourselves of shame - and still have a conscience - without completely, and with utter abandon, turning our will and our lives over to the care of God.  Not only once and for all, but on a continual basis.  And after that, the greatest sledgehammer we have - one that is provided by God Himself - is truth.  

Specific truth.  

Not just 'logos', which is Greek for 'word' - but 'rema', which means 'word for me'.  

Repeated truths.  Spoken - out loud - over and over and over, sometimes several times a day ... for months. Truths spoken into the spirit, where the little child, the one who is so afraid, perhaps so angry, lives.   

Some of those truths - for me - were things like:
  • God loves you unconditionally.  You don't have to earn anything.
  • The abuse that happened to you as a child was the result of others' bad choices.  You did not deserve it. You do not need to feel responsible for what they chose to do. 
  • You have the right to exist, to take up space, to be happy.
  • You are the only person exactly like you.  People can like you just the way you are.
  • You can be yourself; you don't have to pretend to be anyone else.
  • What you have to say is worth listening to.
  • Who you are matters.  What you do has value and purpose. 
There were/are many more truths, but these are just a few examples. They are all based on what God has already said is true.  

Not very often does the wall of shame disappear overnight.  But it does get smaller - worn away by God's love, softened by His kindness, chiseled to a pile of rubble, over time, by His truth.  It's a miracle  -  which is no less a miracle because it happens slowly.  That it happens at all is simply amazing.

And it DOES happen.  

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