Painful Past, Painful Present
Updated: Jul 27
Have you ever tried on a pair of glasses that were not yours? I have and the result was dizzying! Literally. People were unrecognizable, signs were unreadable, and dimensions and distances were very distorted. I never would be able to navigate life well with my vision so grossly out of whack.
Many of us have distorted vision without ever donning a pair of glasses not made for our eyes.
Past hurts and wounds have distorted the way our hearts and minds experience other peoples’ words, actions, and intentions. Often, we are the walking wounded, unaware of how skewed our perceptions are. Without an emotionally and spiritually mature friend to speak truth in love, sadly people may live their whole lives feeling injured by virtually everyone around them.
Most of the time, this tragic way of viewing the world is seated in the experiences we’ve had with primary caregivers – whether parents, grandparents or guardians. God wired us up to need and want nurture, protection, love, and acceptance. Infants need this to survive. Children need this to thrive. Adolescents need this to individuate healthily. Adults need it to navigate the world successfully and to engage healthily in intimate relationships and fulfilling friendships.
Without those ingredients of nurture, protection, love, and acceptance, the world and other people are perceived as dangerous, untrustworthy, rejecting, and unkind. The experience of life’s early training grounds reinforced those perceptions and, perhaps subconscious belief systems.
Take heart because the situation is far from hopeless! The first step in any recovery program goes something like this: “We admitted we were powerless over our addictions [substitute your problem] and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable”. (Celebrate Recovery, Step 1 – parenthetical words are mine)
So, try not to get hung up on the word “addictions”. Addictions is just another word for idols. And an idol is anything, anyone, or any behavior pattern that holds more power or higher belief status than God. So, in place of addiction, the problem might be anger, jealousy, money, work, television, or emotional volatility. It might be believing about yourself anything that is contrary to what God says is Truth about you. When looked at from that perspective, we all have idols, right?
Admitting there’s a problem; that the way we’ve tried to deal with it, ignore it, medicate it, mask it, act out about it, or numb it has not only not been ineffective – often it has made things worse! Deciding that all those ineffective ways of managing didn’t help and deciding to attend to another course of thought, feeling and behaving (Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)).
Here is the path to freedom: Put God first and seek His help. Decide to learn to challenge those automatic negative beliefs with alternative thinking. Decide to learn what healthy personal boundaries look like and put them in place. Decide to get help with learning this and being accountable to it if you really want to live life in freedom. And work at it.
Hope. Help. Healing. It’s all available. Step into it and live your life in freedom.