Brokenness and Anticipation
I am starting to see more clearly my own brokenness. God is putting more significant pieces of the picture into place using various books and circumstances.
The Bait of Satan is showing me more clearly that I am full of offenses that are preventing me from being free to love and be loved. Even more importantly it has revealed to me that I am clueless about the reality and immensity of the debt that I owed and that Jesus paid with His life and that is forgiven by God. But because I cannot appreciate the reality of what that debt would have meant in my life and the forgiveness of God in relation to that debt, I have a very hard time reflecting that spirit of forgiveness in my own relationships with others.
How We Love is showing me the roots of this condition, the early causes of why I am this way and why I am so stuck in my cluelessness. I am just starting to perceive and appreciate to a very small extent the damage that was done to my heart in my childhood. But at the same time I must also realize and appreciate how much even more damage similar to mine was in the hearts of those who were doing it to me. Knowing their pain does not negate the reality that what they did to me was wrong, but it does help me to avoid falling into the blame trap, the trap of offense. But it is important to allow myself to be taken back to the causal roots of my malfunctioning or I will likely never be able to find the alternate path that can lead me to wholeness and better relationships with my own children, my wife and with others.
I am suspecting that it is no accident that this is taking place right when my daughter is spending a few days at home before leaving for the other side of the country. Last time she was home I began to become aware just a little of the way I treat her emotionally even yet today. My lack of affection and affirmation to her must be extremely painful for her heart, but yet it is still very hard for me to see myself because of the blindness produced in my own heart by those who failed to do the very same for me in my family.
In the material from Why We Love I am learning that the presence and actions of being comforted is a key indicator of the emotional health or lack of it in the heart relationships within a family. Those who have developed strong coping malfunctions, alternate attachment styles other than secure ones, are those who have not experienced repeated events of real comfort in their childhood years. They did not have a parent or significant adult come to them, initiate the process of touching them, holding them, really listening to them and experiencing relief with them in that event. Since quite clearly all of my siblings and I fit into that category it is now easier to see why we are all so locked up emotionally.
Likewise, it is easy to see why my own children feel so distant from me because they experienced pretty much the same treatment in their growing up years as I did to a great extent. Just apologizing to them now for making mistakes may be a first step but it does not do much to address the much deeper pain that still remains in full force in their own hearts from the lack of love, comfort and affection that is even today still missing in their relationship with me. In my growing-up family the word 'love' was very often referred to as 'a principle'. As such it tended to be detached from affection or comfort and that is the imprint of life that was embedded in my own heart.
Now when I look inside my own heart, I too feel terribly ashamed that I don't have the kind of affections and impulses that should be present in the heart of a loving, caring parent. Just last night as I was reading something, it struck me how odd the word 'caregiver' feels to me when I really think about it. Logically it would stand to reason that a caregiver is one who gives care. Yet in my own experience I can hardly recall any times in my life when I received what felt like care, when someone truly comforted me with a deeply caring heart. As a result my own children have experienced very little affection and comfort from me. This would certainly explain why I am also clueless at the heart level about the true meaning of joy except for the very few experiences that I now share with others that have occurred in my recent adult life.
Another awareness came to me this morning that is a clue in this whole puzzle. For me the actions and emotions involved in being comforted were very many times linked strongly with shame. To be physically touched by someone or to touch them was associated with shame and immorality by those in authority. And additionally, to have someone sympathize and console you when you were emotionally hurting became a sign of weakness, another source of shame in a world where men were supposed to suppress their emotions and become hard and strong and 'manly'. Since shame is one of those emotions I never have learned to recover from very well, it now makes more sense why the association of shame with these other legitimate needs blocks me from being able to receive them or give them very well.
I am just now even becoming aware of all of these factors and conditions in my life. As I said, it is no accident that I am looking at all of these things at the same time. God is faithful to orchestrate things in my life and His timing is always on time. I know that He is behind all of these insights and there are so many more things that I need to learn just like these. But He is choosing right now to use these things and I need to pay attention and cooperate with whatever He is seeking to do in my own healing and the reconciliation of my family.
My brother called me yesterday feeling compelled and under conviction to ask forgiveness for something he said to me over thirty years ago that I have no memory of at this point. For me now, the incident had no significance but at the same time I felt encouraged that he was even listening to a conviction in his own heart and affirmed him for taking action on it. I wondered if he might be acting more out of fear that something might be held against him by God that could endanger his salvation as he approaches his later years rather than a desire to really experience healing and better relationships. I do not want to judge him though for I myself spent years in that mode of thinking and it seems clear, at least in all my encounters with him, that he is still stuck in that perception of how God feels about him.
But at the same time I have to remember that God must work with us where we are and it took a very long time for God to gently move me past those deep fears of Him and my legalistic motivations for apologies. It has taken years for me to realize that it is my heart that is the real problem and that what He really wants an intimate relationship with me more than dutiful conformance to a list of rules. The more I perceive a more mature view of God and the real truth about Him the more I realize that these needed apologies are not so much to clear my legal record in heaven so God won't use them against me in the judgment, but they are internal obstacles that prevent my own heart from functioning the way it needs to operate in order to have healthy bonding with God and with those around me.
As my brother was speaking with me I easily recalled far more serious offenses that he had committed against me that still have a great deal of pain in them that he could have been addressing. But I also know that he is not yet capable of going to those memories because he still has far too much defensiveness and fear and pain in his own heart to do so. But just the fact that he is doing anything at all is reason for encouragement because it shows me that he is responding in at least small ways to the nudging of the Spirit of God in his heart. The more he responds the farther the Spirit will lead him into deeper convictions and more healing and maturity. I need to pray for him, to see him through the eyes of heaven myself, to affirm him to the extent that is currently possible and to forgive him in my own heart long before he is even ready to acknowledge the wounds that he has inflicted in my heart.
The most significant block that I myself am currently facing, the greatest obstacle that prevents me, just like my brother, from even being able to feel the need to repent and confess and forgive others is my own unawareness of the pain that I have caused the heart of God myself. Just as my brother is still unable to face his responsibility for the deep wounds that he caused my heart at a very young age and that he inflicted on his sisters and mother, I too am just as guilty of ignorance of what God has forgiven me in my relationship with Him.
And just as it would have only triggered my brother into defensiveness and fear and denial or superficial apologies if I had tried to confront him about those other far more significant occurrences in our past, I suppose if God tried to confront me with the full reality of what I have done to Him I might also react in terror, denial and revert back to my dark pictures of God that plagued me for most of my childhood. It is God's mercy and compassion that restrains Him from fully answering my requests to show me all the truth about my debt to Him. But at the same time I have to admit that I am so clueless that I can't even see why that is true. I am pleading with Him to open my eyes and heart and mind to at least have a much greater appreciation of my own debt so that I can have more heart motivation to forgive others as a reflection of His forgiveness for me. I don't think it is wrong to ask for that revelation, even when I know it will likely be very painful when it comes.
So I am giving God permission to reveal as much as He knows I can handle, to show me the real truth about myself, my offenses against Him and others in the light of heaven. Of course at the same time I also need to have the healing revelations of how solid His forgiveness is for me at the same time or the revelation of my own guilt will crush all hope out of me. But at this point I don't seem to be able to see either one of those things and I am pleading with Him to take me there because I know that is the only path into greater healing and higher maturity.
In addition, I sense that my relationship with my children and even my wife has remained stuck and too shallow for many years because of my lack of appreciation in this area. Because of my resistance to forgive those who have deeply wounded me based on my own lack of appreciation for my relationship with God, I am still incapable of having any real breakthroughs in the most important relationships with others in my own home. But at this point I don't know of anything I can do to break that logjam except to ask God to intervene in my own heart. I sense that I am at the pivot point, that if my own healing were to have a major breakthrough then the hearts of many around me might find much freer access and incentive to flow down the river of healing along with me.
So here I am, still caught in the logjam that has developed over many generations of malfunction, child abuse and emotional neglect. While it is true that blame will do nothing to release this massive logjam of offense, ignoring the reality that the logs are still jammed will not promote progress either. I sense that as all of us get honest about what is real and cooperate with the means and power provided in God's Spirit to clear these jams in our hearts that we may be about to see things we never dreamed possible in our wildest imaginations.
I write all of this while fully realizing that my words have far more significance than possibly I can even now yet appreciate. I am trying to listen to what the Spirit is saying to my heart as I write and to simply convey what seems to make sense to me given what I know and what I have learned. Only God can take all of this and move it down into the regions of the heart where it really begins to operate the way it is described in these shallow words. But my cooperation or resistance to that movement can have a significant affect on how much this can happen and possibly how soon.
When the jam begins to unravel and the logs begin to roll and pitch and crash together before they all straighten out and flow together down the river in better harmony, it may feel terrifying and appear chaotic and even very threatening. The temptation will be strong to say that what is happening is all wrong, the the spirit involved is not from God and that we should all return to the days of stability. But though logjams may appear to be very stable they are not at all to be desired or protected. For the whole purpose of them floating on the river to start with is to move them all farther along the river toward the destination they were intended to be sent to originally.
Father, I don' know what else to say. I am still asking You to do whatever is it You want to do and remove all resistance from my heart so You can accomplish the healing in me that needs to take place. If my log begins to break free there are many others that You will have more freedom to work with as a result. So I give You unlimited permission again to do whatever it takes to bring glory to Your reputation as the ultimate log-roller, the great heart-transplanter, the wonderful liberator of those who still sit in prisons of darkness.
I want to be free. I want to grow up. I want to learn to dance and sing and celebrate You without fear of what others think or feel about me. I only want to know that You love me, to appreciate the real truth about how much You have forgiven me and to rest in Your comfort and experience real joy in Your presence. Have Your way fully in my life today for Your reputation's sake.