The Seduction of Victimhood (6 of 9)

Since our exile from the garden, we seemingly have a limitless capacity for visiting abuse, oppression, and destruction, upon one another. In this respect, we are as much the walking wounded refugees of the fall, as we are its perpetrators. It is also psychologically demonstrable that the harm we exact on each other is often fostered in the harm done to us working its way through us – it is a perpetuated cycle of dysfunction and sin.

Some might assume themselves unscathed by this dynamic – but chances are they’ve not looked close enough inside of their own default settings, to discover the layers of hurt and brokenness they’ve experienced . . . and are now passing along, unbeknownst. Which is why a humble and honest inventory is required to unlock those doors where we keep the most broken places of our heart . . . and even then, sometimes those rooms are so dark, we need to trust someone to go there with us.

There is great power found in allowing yourself to name aloud the things that have held you captive for so long. But with this newly discovered freedom comes the responsibility of stewardship – to be an agent of grace and hope to others without trying to fix them . . . which is an art form that takes a while to master. I say this because it is possible to break the chains of the cycle of hurt, while creating a new avenue of dysfunction and sin — this often occurs when we’ve allowed the damage done to us . . . to define us.

downloadThere’s a peculiar seduction that often accompanies having been wounded deeply that attempts to justify the harmful experience by allowing it to become a predominate feature of your identity, as if everything about you were stuck in that experience from then on. This isn’t to say that life changing experiences shouldn’t be life changing – but when they become a dead end cul-de-sac that your life can’t move beyond . . . it is because, on some level, you’ve chosen to keep it that way.

Now, this might strike you as an unsympathetic assessment, but I assure you, allowing someone to drown in their own victimhood isn’t loving – it’s codependent. For it is precisely because someone has suffered such great pain and sorrow that they need to find hope beyond the darkness attempting to deceive them into believing – this is where they belong.

I have no spiritual platitude to offer, no plastic Jesus bromide – all I know is that there are deeper and more wonderful truths about who you really are, that go far beyond the tragic realities of your past. And maybe you’re afraid to ask God why he allowed such evil to occur – don’t be. God can take it! I don’t know that he’ll answer all of your questions – likely he won’t. But he knows where you hurt and the deep longings of your heart – he is the lover of your soul and the redeemer of all things. And though it may not feel like it –you are his beloved. He has given you a unique story to tell . . . and it can still have a happy ending.

. . . and sometimes you gotta set it all aside and come on up to the house.


The Seduction of Self-Esteem (5 of 9)

For those who suffer with anxiety attacks, there are likely two things in play – the physiology of their brain chemistry and the psychology of their predisposition. So somewhere on the spectrum between these two is where those living with this malady find themselves. More often than not, brain chemistry can be brought back into balance with medication, if not with changes in diet and routine; but as for those reoccurring patterns of negative self-talk, driven by a predisposed psychology — this will require a renovation of perspective.

Since before we were old enough to even realize it, we have been accumulating experiences – experiences that become the very substances of the telling of our story about the world we live in, as well as, who we imagine ourselves to be in it. It’s principally a story that we tell ourselves, about ourselves — but quite often, we’re unsure as to what part we’re supposed to play, even though it’s a story we’re telling . . . you can see already how that could be a problem.

We are constantly narrating what we assume to be the subtext of our daily events, mostly in first person — but there are times when we drift into a third person telling, detached as if helplessly watching. This is when disappointment, depression, and anxiety begin to control our narrative – placing in crisis our identity, our sense of self . . . as if we were disappearing. Undoubtedly, such a narrative is broken, as it erodes all self-worth, dignity, and significance.

imagesClearly a new narrative needs to be adopted, but are we to simply replace what’s negative with what’s positive? Wouldn’t that only be trading one subjective fiction for another? Are we to merely embrace the Johnny Mercer lyrics “You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative . . .”? Is that even sustainable? Is this not the seduction of self-esteem – believing that we have the power to existentially pronounce away things we don’t want to believe are true . . . about ourselves?

Any honest estimation of ourselves will always seek to know the whole story, recognizing that self-evaluation is not only limited, but is also highly susceptible to self-deception. So fundamentally, the question here is – what truth do you profess? Because the narrative of your self-talk will always follow the path of your profession. So if what you profess rises and falls in reaction to every circumstance, or is a Pollyannaish denial of circumstance – then your self-talk will always be subject to circumstantial events.

But self-talk that is a profession of immutable truth, a profession that is affixed to the true nature of how the world actually exists, is not only able to correctly identify the context of the world we live in, but can also correctly identify our significance in it. This is why it is a measure of our faith to profess what is true, even when circumstances seem contrary. So here’s the truth about you – you were made in the image of God, thereby given an immeasurable value; you are the beloved of God, inextricably made to share in an intimacy of relationship with him and everyone else in your life; your life has been given purpose and meaning, so arise every day and live in the wonderful power of this gift.

Now, that’s some self-talk worthy listening to . . .

God chooses to love us knowing full well who we are –
his love pursues us no matter how alone we feel in self-doubt.