Do those moments ever come up for you and you realize that you’ve been holding tight to some seriously wrong beliefs? What do you do in that moment? Do you choose to give of your heart and decide to risk trusting one more time…or do you find yourself getting weary of the pain of exposing your heart and decide that no one will hurt you again. What will the choice be?
My inability to trust and my lack of desire to be vulnerable goes back to vows that have been made long ago and held for many years…make that more than a few decades. Since now it is my heart’s desire to walk in relationship with people who know the real me (with my fear and my longings, my shame and my past, my passion and my heart) things need to change. I believe one way to open that door (toward relationships that offer undeniable growth and intimacy) is to be able to let go of some of those long held oaths and fortified barriers. For a time, those deeply held promises made exclusively to me, and the walls I built to keep others away from knowing what I genuinely felt, offered both protection and distance…though now as I have a much different path in front of me, I no longer want those maligned modifications to my thinking and believing. I’ve had the privilege to live life with some beautiful and inspirational people who have the courage to be themselves when the far majority of the time they are so starkly different from others who are around them…and to me it’s a beautiful and captivating sight. I want to have that…the freedom to be me. To be the person that God made me to be without watching to see how someone else will react or judge-so I can make minor adjustments or accommodations. No…I long to boldly be who God wrote on my DNA to be-with the love and acceptance and the challenge and intimacy that mark my life as one who lives for Jesus. This is who I want to be…so I ask myself honestly, what keeps me from living this audacious life that I feel like I am called to…?
I know one aspect that keeps me at bay and it is absolutely rooted in my past. Pouring out of some of the most deeply held and desperately protected places in my heart seem to be the untouched sources of many of the most intense shielding pledges that I’ve made in my life.
From birth until my teen years, I lived in and observed the Roman Catholic tradition of the Catholic Church. In that tradition, we had “patron saints.” (A canonized saint, who we could ask to intercede on our behalf-one who lived a good and godly life in the past and essentially by their life showed a particular heart for a certain section of God’s people. As I say that, please know that this was my perspective and understanding as I grew up and what was conveyed to me as a child, so it is a very real possibility that the truest way to see the concept in the catholic church was a bit skewed…at the time, I was particularly set against the possibility that anything that was “religious” in nature was a good thing.)
My patron saint because of my given name at the time was Saint Jude. Saint Jude was the patron saint of lost causes. That’s what I became called and referred to constantly…a lost cause. The coldness of the way it was said is something that still makes me shudder inwardly to think about. It seemed as if acknowledging me in any capacity, even as a lost cause, was disgusting. As if even the mere thought of or any reference to me was so appalling that it filled the speaker’s mouth with filth so repulsive that it made them sick. It was no secret that the label was meant to shame-and may I say, it did so with tremendous success. In my own feelings of deep hurt and retaliation I set myself against reading or knowing anything about Saint Jude, to include even the acknowledgement that it was a of the book of the bible. I avoided it and pretended it didn’t exist for over 30 years.
I remember thinking at one point in time that I was angry that I was referred to as a lost cause, though I never did speak up and let anyone know the resentment that was building up inside me, I chalked that off to the “young and dumb” ideas I held for a time. However, the describing of me as “lost cause” eventually became something that was repeated so often that it seeped into my thinking and became the filter at which I began seeing myself and tainted the way that I viewed pretty much everything. Repetition of that degrading label soon had me repeating to myself the fact that I was nothing, that I was indeed a lost cause and that there was nothing in this world that I held more value than…including the lowest form of animal fecal material, which was all reinforced by the words showered on me in my birth family. All these beliefs were woven into my fabric of thinking until every train of thought reeked of the self-deprecating words and became foundation.
Lamentations 3:19-20 “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.”
Just recently, through questions asked and me honestly looking at my own hurts, God brought forth the vow I made to myself to not know about Jude…in such a way that made me feel like an innocent child tip-toeing to an open door with a light glowing from the opening… I was intrigued with the glow, I somehow felt that there was a treasure behind that door and that thought initiated a cascade of youthful notions of which I was an explorer or a treasure hunter that was about to uncover the greatest hidden treasure in history!
And do you know what I found…?
A letter of warning to those who use and distort the Grace and Word of God to support their own warped thinking instead of the truth that it is…and the loving words of encouragement to come alongside those who find themselves doubting and to keep building each other up in the love of God! To me it was a letter written for me to see that justice will be done in those situations where there had been too much shame and fear for me to bring the truth out in the open. That there will be some accountability for the wrongs that were so massive to me and that shaped my thinking and believing in such extreme ways…
Because of the intimate way it spoke to me, the book of Jude was a beautiful letter of encouragement, perseverance, conviction and love. I shake my head in sadness as I realize that fear, anger, bitterness, resentment, past wounding and deep hurt kept me from even being willing to see truth.
What do I do in those moments when I not only realize, but am convicted of the wrong beliefs?
I press ever harder into my Lord and Savior. I ask for His wisdom, His understanding and His strength. With a heart full of joy and love, I find myself ready and willing to give the core of me to the Creator of the universe who saves every tear that I cry in a bottle…my Father and my King.
2 Samuel 7:28 “Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.”
Father God, I thank you for each and every time that you open my heart, mind and emotions to your truth. I thank you that today I was able to take a firm grip of the truth that you lovingly pour over me. It is with my knee and heart bowed in reverence that I ask and thank you for your continual pursuing of me. God, with the hurts and pain of my life-will you continue to help me to let go of those painful places so that I can be healed…so that I will no longer try to avoid or pretend that a wound that is infecting my entire life isn’t there… God help me to boldly be who you lovingly designed me to be-and help me daily look more like your Son, Jesus.
Psalm 9:10 “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”