Shameful Memories

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her,and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

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. 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 ta erribly 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 to 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 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 on our mental health is staggering.  Many of us are driven in a mad movement to 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.)

Most of us, would quickly trade this mental pain, this misery;  for a physical one. Something shameful that was done 20 or 30 years ago continues its destructive work.  It’s like filling a bucket with corrosive acid.  It will “eat” its way out.  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 these things are a moldy wall; 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!

A 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. He took away every ounce of sin. believe that and freedom is yours.

No matter what the sin it is forgiven.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

2 Corinthians 5:17

 
 

Getting Past Your Past

Shame

“For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” 

2 Corinthians 7:10, NLT

“You will have mercy on us again; 
 You will conquer our sins.
 You will throw away all our sins
 into the deepest part of the sea.”  

Micah 7:19, NCV

My own past has been particularly brutal and ugly.  I have done quite a few evil things in my lifetime which I am ashamed of.  Regret and sorrow over my sins frequently troubles me.  And I have to come back to seeing my sins covered by His blood. See https://brokenbelievers.com/my-story/

“Properly remembering our past sins with shame will deter us from repeating them and help us receive God’s saving grace.  When we recall our failures through the lens of Christ’s mercy, God produces in us ongoing repentance and deepening humility.” 

–Robert D. Jones

I have walked in self-hatred for many years.  I know all about loathing, fear and paranoia over my evilness.  These things have handicapped me spiritually, and hating yourself is a terrible way to live.  My struggles with guilt and regret have deepened my sense of despair and depression.  I find that I am ashamed of my shame.

I have included in this post the lyrics to Bob Bennett’s song “Lord of the Past”.  He is a gifted song writer, and an exceptional guitar player.  (I can’t find it on Youtube.com).  If you’re like me, you will find that you resonate with those who have been assaulted by the past. We now speak a common language, and we understand each other. 

LORD OF THE PAST
Bob Bennett
© 1989 Matters Of The Heart Music (ASCAP)  

Every harsh word spoken
Every promise ever broken to me
Total recall of data in the memory
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

  Lord of the here and now
Lord of the come what may
I want to believe somehow
That you can heal these wounds of yesterday
(You can redeem these things so far away)
So now I’m asking you
To do what you want to do
Be the Lord of the Past
(Be the Lord of my Past)
Oh how I want you to
Be the Lord of the Past

All the chances I let slip by
All the dreams that I let die in vain
Afraid of failure and afraid of pain
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

Well I picked up all these pieces
And I built a strong deception
And I locked myself inside of it
For my own protection
And I sit alone inside myself
And curse my company
For this thing that has kept me alive for so long
Is now killing me.
And as sure as the sin rose this morning,
The man in the moon hides his face tonight.
And I lay myself down on my bed
And I pray this prayer inside my head

  Lord of the here and now
Lord of the come what may
I want to believe somehow
That you can heal these wounds of yesterday
So now I’m asking you
To do what you want to do
Be the Lord of my Past
You can do anything
Be the Lord of the Past
I know that you can find a way
To heal every yesterday of my life
Be the Lord of the Past.

aabryscript

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When I Condemn Myself, [Guilt]

Understanding how to forgive is one of the most essential truths we must learn. We learn that we must forgive others– if we want forgiveness for our own sins. But we jump right into it when we pass judgement on ourselves.  This self-condemnation is insidious and very dark.  And yet incredibly, it is also quite prevalent in the Church.

We determine that we are guilty.  It doesn’t take a lot of imagination, as the sin is everywhere, it overwhelms us.  It meshes into us, and weaves into our very being.  We soon come to the point where we can no longer tell the difference between  what is our sin, and our personality.

If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 

1 John 3:20, NIV

Examining our own hearts, we start by probing the depth of our own evil.  There is now little room for any kind of self-deception– for we understand our darkness in depth.  It is at this crucial point when God steps forward and exercises His authority.  His understanding is complete.  He knows us inside and out.  He sees everything. We can do nothing cosmetically to “improve the corpse.”  He sees us without any ‘make-up’.

When we commence judging ourselves, it may seem appropriate and timely. And certainly, we must respond to the Holy Spirit’s conviction. But this is different!  This is unbelief of God’s Word, that rapidly becomes foul and fleshly, and opens the doors to despondency and despair.

But soon the ‘dark ones’ come, and the blackness becomes insurmountable.  We mournfully provide the chains, which they gleefully use on us.  Self-condemnation twists us and we become malformed and misshapen spiritually.

Guilt is a warning light that says something is wrong. Yet when it persists too long, it energizes Satan’s lies and strangulates spiritual growth. 

“For innumerable evils have compassed me about; my iniquities have taken such hold on me that I am not able to look up. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart has failed me and forsaken me.” 

Psalm 40:12, Amplified

When we look into the mirror, what do we see?  Are we besieged and battered by our sin?  I’m grieved for the many believers are walking as ‘zombie Christian lives’, more dead than alive, with little hope for any kind of escape. Jesus comes to bring us to life.

Brother, sister– Jesus has come to release you completely.  He completely understands your situation.  He is not surprised by your evil.  Your brazen, and dedicated love for your sin does not shock Him.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

1 John 1:9, NLT

A Thought For the Truly Desperate:

“Here’s how to beat condemnation.  Confess your sin to God.  Then believe in Him.  Exercise the gift of faith that God has given you to believe that Jesus died for the very sins you’re being condemned for.  The punishment He received was for you.  His resurrection is proof that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice.  The sins of your past and the sin you just committed were all atoned for; you need carry their weight no more.”

C.J. Mahaney

ybic, Bryan

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Condemnation Can’t Stay [Guilt]

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“Lord, I crawled across the barrenness to you with my empty cup uncertain in asking any small drop of refreshment. If only I had known you better I’d have come running with a bucket.”

-Nancy Spiegelberg

There can be no freedom from condemnation without submission to the saving life of Christ.  This is a definite and critical point.

Without a faith in Him, we are left with the option of carrying our own guilt.  This is a staggering possibility, and our lives turn to drinking and “drugging” and other things.  We must escape from all this pain and sin.  We are walking out condemnation, and the weight of this is immense.

Much of our life can be distilled from this viciousness.  We absorb it, adapt to it, thinking it will ease up some.  But it doesn’t, and it won’t.  We turn to all kinds of ‘pain absorbers’ looking to cope with this mindset.  There are escapes, and we try them all.  But ultimately we end up with one that is quite imperfect, and we ‘sort of’ become a little numb. Our hearts become numb and hard.

Condemnation twists us and who are in Christ. 

It deforms our spirit and destroys our confidence before our Father in Heaven.  His love is still being poured out, but we have placed a cover on our vessel.  We are blocking His mercy by our unwillingness to be forgiven.  All of our guilt seems a reasonable reaction to the heaviness of our sin.

Humans were not designed to handle guilt, and its “cousin” fear.  When we do try, we short-circuit.  Pain is always avoided, and that ends up corralling us into bondage.  From here, we can still mentally assent to the Bible; we can still have a sense of spirituality.  But it will always be filtered through our sense of condemnation.

Faith in the complete action of Jesus is enough.  Because I believe He carried the full weight of my sin, past—-present—future, I can walk out a free man.  Yes, sin does require justice, it is to be condemned.  But my faith, trust or confidence enables me to separate from the sin that would take me, straight to the bottom.

In this release, we are supposed to live. Freed from every condemnation. You must displace condemnation with grace.

We have the joy of the forgiven sinner, and that really makes no sense at all. 

It isn’t at all rational.  But it is legal, and it is binding.  And permanent.  There have been too many lies, for too long.  Grace is meant to be the most radical concept we have ever confronted.  And truly it is.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:1

 

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Dipped in Shame

“All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face.” Psalm 44:15

Some of us truly understand shame. It’s like we have been dipped in it, we have wallowed in it and things are sticking to us. We live out our lives in disgrace and in the sense of nasty embarrassment which we can’t truly resolve. And it affects all that we do, even in those rare moments we are not aware of it.

I honestly wish I was “teflon.” (I would love to have a ‘non-stick’ heart.) There is often a constant sense of being totally insufficient as a person. It seems I can develop a deep awareness of being defective and unworthy. Many of us feel this way all the time. It is painfully welded to us, and we keep trying to figure how to break that dark bond that’s on our hearts and minds.

Mental illness thrives on that blackness. Depression feeds on that stuff, it seems to cycle through us. Our pasts become its nourishment, and at certain times it flourishes. Sometimes it explodes in our minds, just like when you give your roses a dose of “Miracle Grow” (but in a bad way.)

I read recently, that chemists are trying very hard to develop a drug that would erase bad memories. The thinking is that people suffering from PTSD and other mental illnesses will find freedom from very ugly events. Many of us, at certain points in our lives, truly absorb the evil. Some of us end up in prison, others are addicted, and a few go ahead and commit suicide. Shame truly is at its best when it can completely incapacitate and destroy a person.

Most end up with a mental illness, and because we are so complex, it is difficult to view it as a simple ’cause and effect.’ It really is much more complicated than that. Mental illness has many layers. But if we look at our issues from a different view point we can see things we might never see. A psychiatrist once told me that 90% of resident psych patients could go home, if only they knew were forgiven.

Shame is a monster that is constantly tracking us. At times we can put some distance between us. But occasionally it leaps up on our backs and drags us down. We are humiliated with our guilt. That is precisely when we should scream out for help.

There are pastors and psychiatrists, therapists and friends who are most helpful. Practicing prayer and soaking in worship can drive the monster away. Meds can very often provide a respite. All of these have helped me. But in all of this, we must be patient.

We are dealing with guilt, and there are spiritual issues that trump everything else. Human beings were never created to bear guilt, we don’t know what to do. Shame is vigorously parasitical and consuming. If it runs amok through your life it can and will destroy you. (It is caustic– a sure way to wreck you). Some Bible wisdom:

“You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you.” Psalm 69:19

“…in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Col. 1:14

“To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him.” Daniel 9:9

God has made an incredible provision for your guilt. Your sin, though it is crimson red in its intensity and very obvious, it can become as white as snow. Your shame and guilt can be erased.

“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; For you will forget the shame of your youth, And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.” Isa. 54:4

It was Mark Twain, who once said, “Man is the only animal that blushes, and the only animal that needs to.”  We are ashamed, are we not, of things we’ve done in the past? The fact remains, nobody is free from shame who is unforgiven. Instead of being able to look God in the face or to look one another in the face, we want to run away and hide when our conscience troubles us. But there is an infinitely a better way…

aabryscript

 

 

Let the Church Be the Church

Brennan Manning

“Any church that will not accept that it consists of sinful men and women, and exists for them, implicitly rejects the gospel of grace. As Hans Kung wrote, “it deserves neither God’s mercy nor men’s trust”.

The church must constantly be aware that its faith is weak, its knowledge dim, its profession of faith halting, that there is not a single sin or failing which it has not in one way or another been guilty of.

And though it is true that the church must always disassociate itself from sin, it can never have any excuse for keeping any sinners at a distance. If the church remains self-righteously aloof from failures, irreligious and immoral people, it cannot enter justified into God’s kingdom. But if it is constantly aware of its guilt and sin, it can live in joyous awareness of forgiveness. The promise has been given to it that anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Brennan Manning

Sins That Stick to Your Heart

It is often quite difficult for people to forgive themself from their past sins.  We have a tendency to hold ourselves to a stricter, more accountable level then other people.

I usually don’t have a big problem forgiving others.  But for many people they will struggle through their entire Christian walk with both self-forgiveness and its cousin, self-acceptance.

 Self-forgiveness is:

* Accepting yourself as a human who has faults and makes mistakes.
* Letting go of self-anger for your past failures, errors and mistakes.
* No longer needing penance, sorrow and regret over a grievous, self-inflicted, personal offense.
* The act of self-love after you have admitted your failure, mistake or misdeed.
* The spiritual self healing of your heart by calming self-rejection, quieting the sense of failure and lightening the burden of guilt.
* The act of letting go of the need to work so hard to make up for your past offenses.

Negative consequences of the absence of self-forgiveness
In the absence of self-forgiveness, you run the risk of:

* Unresolved hurt, pain and suffering from self-destructive behaviors.
* Unresolved guilt and remorse for self-inflicted offenses.
* Chronically seeking revenge and paybacks toward yourself.
* Being caught up in unresolved self-anger, self-hatred and self-blaming.
* Defensive and distant behavior with others.
* Pessimism, negativity and non-growth oriented behavior.
* Having a festering wound that never allows the revitalization of self-healing.
* Fear over making new mistakes or of having the old mistakes revealed.
* Being overwhelmed by fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of non-approval, low self-esteem and low self-worth. 

Signs of the absence of self-forgiveness.  Lack of self-forgiveness can result in:

* A loss of love for yourself.
* Indifference toward yourself and your needs.
* An emotional vacuum in which little or no emotions are shown or shared.
* Chronic attacks or angry outbursts against self.
* Disrespectful treatment of self.
* Self-destructive behaviors.
* Self-pitying.
* Chronic recalling and reminding of past failures, mistakes, errors and offenses.
* Suspicions about others’ motives, behaviors, attitudes and beliefs when they are accepting of you.
* Chronic depression.
* Chronic hostility, sarcasm and cynicism.
* Self name-calling, belittling and self-demeaning behaviors.
* Unwillingness to change and/or unwillingness to seek the help necessary to change.
* Resistance to doing what is necessary to heal within and recover from low self-esteem.

 Irrational thinking preventing self-forgiveness

* I hurt myself so much; how can I ever expect to be forgiven for that?
* No one deserved the treatment I dished out, and I do not believe that forgiveness is deserved in this situation.
* I am sick over what I did; how can I ever forgive myself?
* I must be inherently evil, and I am despicable. No forgiveness will ever change that.
* I am vicious and cruel, and I always need to be on guard because of that; so why try to forgive what I have done?
* It is a sign of weakness or softness to forgive myself. I must always keep my guard up so as never to repeat my wrongdoings.
* There are some things I can never forgive myself for.
* Only God can forgive me, though at times I don’t believe He can for what I have done.
* What has happened in my life is God’s seeking revenge for all the evil I have done in the past.
* I have done too much for which I can never be forgiven.
* I am just seeking my forgiveness so that I can come back and hurt myself again.
* I do not deserve any self-kindness, self-compassion or self-forgiveness for what I have done to myself or others; I’ll see to it that I am never able to forget it!
* All people who do wrong deserve the worst that life has to dish out.
* I resent myself for hurting myself or others. It is better for me to be hidden behind my wall so I don’t hurt anybody again.
* If I could treat myself or others that way, then I am undeserving of being forgiven, loved or cared for.

 New behaviors needed to create self-forgiveness.  In order to forgive yourself you need to practice:

* Letting go of past hurt and pain.
* Trusting in God’s goodness. Trusting in the goodness and mercy of God to take over the burden for you.
* Letting go and letting the Holy Spirit  lead you during a hurtful time.
* Believing in the infinite justice and wisdom of the Lord                                                                                                                                                                                                                    * Letting go of fears for the future.
* Allowing yourself to be vulnerable to growth.
* Taking a risk.
* Letting go of self-hostility, resentment and self-destructive behaviors.
* Working out your self-anger.
* Overlooking slight relapses or steps backward and getting back on the wagon of recovery immediately.
* Developing a personal spirituality.
* Developing an openness to the belief that you can change.
* Developing trust in yourself.
* Open, honest and assertive communication with yourself concerning hurts, pains and offenses experienced.
* Identifying and replacing the irrational beliefs that block your ability to forgive yourself.

 Two Steps to Develop Self-forgiveness.
 

Step 1: In order to increase your ability to forgive yourself, you need to recognize what this behavior involves. Answer the following questions.

A. What do you mean by “self-forgiveness”?
B. Have you ever forgiven yourself before? How did it feel?
C. Have you ever brought up something from the past to remind you how you hurt yourself or others? How did that make you feel?
D. What role do you feel self-forgiveness has in your growing down? How could you improve?
E. How has the absence of forgiving yourself affected your current emotional stability?
F. What are the signs of the absence of self-forgiveness in your relationship with your family of origin, current family, significant others, spouse, children, parents, relatives, friends or co-workers? With whom do you experience a wall or barrier behind which you hide your past real or perceived failures, mistakes, errors or misdeeds? What feedback do you get about this wall you have been hiding behind?
G. What beliefs block your ability to forgive yourself? What would be necessary to change these beliefs?
H. What new behaviors do you need to develop in order to increase your ability to forgive yourself?
I. What role does the existence of spirituality play in your ability to forgive yourself? The lack of it?
J. For what do you need to forgive yourself?

 Step 2: Now that you have a better picture of what is involved in self-forgiveness, you are ready to work on a specific past failure, mistake, error or misdeed.

A. List a failure, mistake, error, misdeed or event for which you are unable to forgive yourself.
B. How much energy, creativity, problem solving capability and focus on growth is sapped from you whenever you recall this past hurt?
C. What feelings come to mind as you recall this past hurt?
D. How would you describe your role in this past event? In what ways were you the victim, perpetrator, enabler, martyr, bystander, instigator, target, scapegoat, distracter, peacemaker, people pleaser or rescuer?
E. Why do you feel strongly over what happened and how you treated yourself or others?
F. What did this event do to your self-esteem and self-worth?
G. Who was responsible for your reaction to the incident?
H. Who was responsible for your feelings about the incident?
I. Who was responsible for your inability to forgive yourself?
J. How can you forgive yourself?
K. How can you put this incident behind you?
L. How can you avoid being so hurt when something like this happens again?

 ybic, Bryan