And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
Genesis 3:6-10, ESV
There is a good chance that some of your memories are pretty awful.
When we get looking back we can see shameful, dark things. Some of us carry things that are profoundly evil, and they go with us wherever we go. It’s no secret that guilt and mental illness travel hand in hand, for they are brothers. They have tormented us for a terribly long time. They are like playground bullies who have no fear– they only have hatred for us.
I’m quite convinced that the only way to move on is to have Jesus Christ fully cleanse you, and that includes your dark humiliations. The human tendency is for concealment. We take considerable effort to conceal and cloak our past lives. (Both Adam and Eve understood personal shame.)
I remember back when my dad discovered that one of our dogs had killed a chicken. He took that dead chicken and wired it around that dog’s neck. That dog wore that chicken for weeks. It was awful, and it began to putrefy. The smell was terrible. I can still see that dog, staggering and tongue lolling out and slobbering. My dad said it was the only cure for a “chicken killer.” The dog would get very sick, attached to this rotting carcass. It was a sobering lesson for a boy to see.
Somehow, that is what our past disgrace has done to us.
Sure we have moments when we can almost forget. But, for the most part, it is just a temporary reprieve. We slide back and rediscover the pain; it’s just waiting for us. The cost of our mental health is staggering.
Many of us are driven by a mad movement toward drugs and alcohol. We are compelled to escape the pain, and for a little while it seems to work. (This is called “co-morbidity.” Which is ‘fancy talk’ for a dual problem.)
It’s like filling a bucket with corrosive acid. It will eat its way out.
Most of us would quickly trade this mental pain, this misery; for a physical one. Something shameful that was done 20 or 30 or 50 years ago continues its destructive work. Our conscience will not allow us to dispose of our self-disgust in this easy, cavalier manner. We need a ‘hazmat’ crew to help us clean up mentally and spiritually.
You have to forgive yourself.
You must, or you will destroy yourself and those closest to you as well!
Often we believe these things are simply moldy walls; they seem to just need a coat of paint. Our problem is that it will only cover for a short time. After 20-30 layers are applied, we realize this isn’t really the answer. Nothing we can do is ever enough. We must have Jesus– we must!
“God doesn’t want us to punish ourselves to erase our guilt. He punished his Son to cancel our guilt. God will not build His kingdom on our pain because He is building it on His mercy.”
Full repentance is critical. Don’t scuff off this first step. The blood of Jesus isn’t some nicety. It is foundational for salvation. We are to, by faith, start the obedience. Our blistering sin and guilt are absorbed in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
“When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!”
2 Corinthians 5:17, LB