It’s when I show up at the Confession on Sunday morning empty handed that I know I’m in trouble. I’ve forgotten the quick cutting down, the self-pity binge, the explosions at bedtime. I’ve forgotten the pride because pride makes the rest of it go away, a nice little deceptive veneer. And I’ve skated through the week without any self-examination. And here I am come to Sunday…a little too pious.
That’s when I know I’m in trouble.
Sin sticks so tight to our personalities we can’t see the worry, the people pleasing, the performance, the binging, the unhinged anger for what it is. We have clicked into reaction mode because really, it’s all about us again. We’re no longer following Christ. We’ve made a detour and our self-righteousness is just a sign that it’s all just getting a bit rancid in here.
The story of Jesus’ coming turns all of this on its head. Christ is born to the poor, the broken open, to the weak and watching, the dying. He comes to those who know they need a Savior. Christ is reborn in us when we escavate the dead stuff and lay it down at the cross.
It’s when I don’t see my need for the One laid in the manger that I know I’m in trouble. When the nostalgia takes over and the warm fuzzies take over, I know I’m not ready. I’m not ready Him. I’m not ready for the sacrificial lamb who volunteered birth on this dark planet in order to set me free.
Set aside time to listen to your life. Ask for a new revelation of what is keeping you captive, what is damming you up to love. After each question, set aside time to listen to your life:
What do you binge on to fill the emptiness…or do you just check out?
What happens when you are triggered by fear, loneliness, anger, pain, ungratefulness?
Think over a low point from this last week…what was your reactionary behavior? Is there a pattern?
Where do you run to when the pain gets strong? (Sleep, Shopping, Food, Tobacco, Computer, Facebook, Alcohol, Religion, Work, Drugs, Gambling, Sexual Addictions?)
What do you use to protect yourself? (Anger, Denial, Pretense, Hiding, Distraction, Isolation?)
How do you try to provide for yourself emotionally? (Success, Fame, unhealthy relationships, manipulation, control, money, people pleasing, sexual promiscuity?)
How do you punish yourself or others? (Blame, Unforgiveness, Self-contempt, rejections, abusive words, withholding, desire to harm, aggression, shame, criticism, self-abuse, bitterness?)
These are all behaviors/sins that keep us from crawling directly to Him when we are needy. We are invited to come empty, uncomfortably empty…but because of the pain we often want to fill, fill, fill.
Ask Him for help. Wash the mask off. Stop pretending and pry up the broken places.
Get comfortable being broken in His presence, naked even. It’s the only way to a life of humility. But friend, you don’t have to fear the process. His kindness is gentle, beyond imagination.
This prayer could prove to be the key.
Jesus, I have sinned and no longer want ————–to hold me captive. I’m sorry for the pain that I’ve caused myself and others. Thank you for coming and being willing to die for my sins. I accept Your full forgiveness and thank You for it. I pray that You will transform me and clean this area up in my life. Do not let the evil one use this in my life any longer in Jesus Christ’s name. Show me how deep the roots go and redeem the consequences. I want to be transformed and healed. In Jesus name, Amen
The good news? Salvation is never His final work in our life. He knows we’re not “done.” Forgiveness keeps doing its good, hard work, ever-deepening, ever-cleansing, healing, transforming.
You, my friend, He died so that you might have Life with Him (1 Thessalonians 5:10) and this just might be the next step beautiful step toward the manger, toward the with-God life.