Getting this one out to you a little early, as we’re leaving sun-up tomorrow morning to visit our daughter and son-in-law. Which, in a way, connects with this latest entry….
Our first several Friday entries have been about you receiving forgiveness; this next bunch are about you extending it—to others, and maybe to yourself as well.
Let’s pick up where we left off last week. Only this time, rather than dwelling on the things that have caused us deep shame—and for today at least, the need to forgive others in those areas—let’s go broad instead of deep. Let’s explore the width and breadth of all those “little” things from our past that nonetheless work together to hold us back from believing God’s best for us.
And the fact is, the person least immune to all this is me. As I warned all of us in the introduction, by addressing these issues and “laying them out” before you, I’m also taking a buzzsaw to the undergrowth in my own life. And as I finished the previous devotion (Week 1, Day 5), I got hit by my own accusations—not by shame per se, but by all the negative things in my past that I nevertheless allow to define me.
To be sure, some of my counter-reactions to those negative things have had some very positive results. You’re reading one of them right now. For that matter, there’s a six-book bible-study series with my name on it out there that was very much a counter-reaction to a few different yet decidedly negative circumstances in my life at the time (“I’ll show you what discipleship looks like!”). And as I reflect upon it, it was my counter-reaction to my childhood that gave me the determination to ensure that my marriage and the way our children were raised would be different. And they were.
And yet, there’s a piece of me—bigger than I probably realize even now—that still spends an inordinate amount of time identifying myself against those negative things in the past that I’m not. Looking at that in other people’s lives—and I think this is even truer with those trapped by shame—I observe what I like to call a “spiritual Stockholm Syndrome.” That is, the penchant to identify ourselves with—and excuse, yet not truly forgive—those who have hurt us deeply.
I, too, am often just as trapped by it.