Those tormentors of my soul and mind, they come loudest when I am with my family. Things that I think are resolved and healed, I find were only falsely buried. They begin by sneaking in quietly, moving in slowly until they are screaming. The ones who love you the most (or at least should) bring out the worst in you. In many cases, they and others in your close community are the author of many of the false beliefs, those lies you live by - knowingly or unknowingly.
This is hard to accept. We love our family. I love mine dearly. It's not a matter of dishonoring them or speaking against them, it's simply a matter of living with fallen humans.
You grow up in a family or with those that are in your close community and you form a belief system about yourself, about God, and about the world. This belief system is filled with all kinds of positive and much negative. Such as...
I am good enough based off of what I do, not who I am. Who I am needs to shift or change entirely to make others feel better or to meet their needs. God is good, but don't incur his wrath. Be good, do good. Perfection is even better. Change who you are, so I don't have to change who I am. I have to work hard or be something else if others are to notice me. God is faithful if I don't mess up.
There are more, of course. Everyone has their own.
All of this creates feelings of unworthiness, inadequacy, insecurity, and more. And, what's worse, it causes you to feel lonely and alone in a room full of people who love you and should know you best. The funny thing, as much as they think they know you, they don't know you at all. Not really. Because they spent a lifetime trying to figure you out, peg you, and fit you into something that they can understand. And in doing that, they completely lost who you really are. And you lost who you really are.
Until one day, you separate-you rediscover-you find, hopefully, who you are, who God has created you to be. Wonderfully and beautifully. And although it's misunderstood by many, it's understood by your creator. And it becomes right, and okay.
And in that process, you learn your faults, your weaknesses, your sin created - flesh driven tendencies. And with honesty and vulnerability, the hope is that you learn not just others role in your tormented soul, but you learn that you played a big part as well. The blame simply cannot be placed all on them. That although you are beautifully and wonderfully made, because you are not perfect, there are some parts of you that need to be broken. There are parts of you that need to be changed to love others well. That you spent years not understanding...reacting and respond in inappropriate and unloving ways. You spent years hurting others and wanting others to change to meet your needs, rather than loving them for who they are. And you discover redemption. True redemption, from the inside out.
And you learn that we all play a role in our mess. But, ultimately, you only have responsibility for yourself. You have a choice. To forgive, accept, learn to love, and allow God to move in your own mess and brokenness. Or you can continue to battle the same sins, the same feelings that you did as a child, you can continue to live in pretense, to put on the mask, to force or work for joy.
But freedom, true life in Christ, comes with the former not the latter.
We come into the holidays and holidays represent so many different things for so many. Sweet and unsweet memories. Joy and sorrow.
But for many of us, it's time with family and friends where those old ugly monsters come roaring back in and we work our hardest to stuff them back down.
I don't want to stuff them, I want to kill them-destroy them once and for all. Granted, in this life, the pain or memory of them may not die. This world is not meant to be perfect, but the Bible is clear they may no longer have master over me. With Christ in me, I live and I act and He can break the strongholds and break down the monsters so they no longer have power anymore.
All of us have the choice to discover. All of us, with Christ, have the power for change.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful that I see my family and know my family in all their faults and weaknesses, but with God's change in me, I have freedom to love them unconditionally. I love them so deeply not for who I want them to be but for who they are. If you are my family reading this, I love YOU. You as you. And I thank God for you. For all of your faults, you have a million more strengths and wonderful things. Thank you for loving me in all my failures and faults. I love you and I am thankful for you.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my friends, those who love me for me. They didn't have to, but they do. And I love you for who YOU are, not for what you can do for me.
And, this Thanksgiving, I am thankful-indebted to my precious, wonderful Savior. Who, by my choice and offering of myself, has ripped me open-has bared my soul for all its ugliness, it's brokenness, it's depravity, and it's pain. He has moved past the good I keep at the surface and has uncovered the deep and buried. And He has begun to change me. I know change and I am thankful. And it's only the beginning. Freedom in Christ is real and true for me like it never was before
So, yeah, until my dying day, I will do the vulnerable, messy, painful work of staring the monsters in the face. God-search me, know me. Uncover and uproot the buried. And work in me, your compassion and grace and mercy. And may change and freedom begin. And love is winning and will continue to win.