I am chuckling here, but there are some real treasures to be found in growing up in the midst of complete dysfunction. I am chuckling because God always gets the last laugh and the truth of His words in Romans 8:28 are really resonating today, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
I have some real battle scars, but actually today they are treasures I wouldn’t trade for anything. I was very young when I first learned the relationship between confession, (repentance) and healing. Shame is a powerful weapon in dysfunctional families, people always trying to pass it off like a game of hot potato. Every time someone did something awful, I learned to confess and repent, (not to them but to God,) and just in that simple act a great deal of additional harm was avoided. To repent is to set wrong doing down at the foot of the cross and to walk away, forgiven, free.
As if you were made of teflon. Nothing sticks.
And you have to learn how to do that very quickly in the midst of dysfunction, least the next shoe fall before you’ve recovered from the last one. I am blessed to have learned that skill, because that is how you protect yourself emotionally and spiritually.
The relationship between confession and healing came back to me the other day. Someone broke the windshield wiper on my car and stole my wiper blades. What can I say, bad neighborhood. Whether it was vandalism or a desperate need for some free wiper blades I have no idea, but regardless this is an annoying inconvenience. And it’s not the first time.
So after grumbling about it for a few hours, I did what I always do, confess and repent. My husband does not understand, he is like, “but it is not your fault!” It never even occurred to me that it was my fault! Of course it is not my fault, but just the same somebody took my wipers and in exchange left behind offense, anger, frustration, cynicism, and a sense of violation and vulnerability. I do not want those things! This is not a good trade.
So, confession and repentance, as in “Lord, forgive me, I have picked up some things that do not belong to me.” And in that exchange there is now peace, grace, mercy, healing. Now that is a good trade, a priceless trade. I gave Him my garbage, He gave me His peace. An awesome trade, indeed.
This is a sticky wicket to traverse with people who have been genuine victims of abuse because there can be so much shame, so much resistance, so much insistence that it’s not my fault. I wish we could take “fault” and “blame” right out of the repentance equation, because that trips so many people up. Confession is healing and if you have been hurt, you need healing.
In the modern world however, we often do people a real disservice because we stress this is not your fault, you are not to blame, you have nothing to be sorry for. While this is all 100% true, in another dimension it can be a real stumbling block, because now confession, repentance, is off the table. You are now severed from your access to grace, peace, healing.
Sometimes we do an even greater disservice and speak of people’s need to forgive. Forgive?! We haven’t even treated the victim’s needs yet. When they have received enough grace and mercy themselves, forgiveness towards someone else comes, right on schedule. Don’t be trying to put the horse before the cart here and completely forget who the patient is.
I keep saying the biggest problem in our world today is that shame/pride dichotomy. Environmental shame, political shame, social shame, broken world shame. AND YOU BETTER BE ASHAMED OF ALL THESE THINGS TOO! Shame never suffers alone, it must pass itself along and share the misery. It will even throw a full-blown tantrum if you don’t.
Uh uh. Not going there because I have a Kinsman Redeemer. Jesus Christ who went to the cross, “despising the shame” on my behalf. -Hebrews 12:2.