Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Forgiven to Feel Real

Feeling. It might only be one of the five senses, but it has many more allusions than simply sense. Take Frankie, the child abused emotionally by her mother.

She learns early that life can be pretty awful, and the abuse has a way of following her... to school, with her so-called friends, and later in life, with her partner. Feelings. Feelings and attributions of abuse and neglect... ends up that Frankie becomes a binge drinker and a more than occasional drug user, especially when the chips are down.

Alcohol and drugs are rampant in our running away society.

It’s like this the world over, though many of us have not been so abused and neglected. Yet, we feel. And when we feel horrible we want to do something about it to ‘fix’ the situation. Then we take a drug.

In the biblical wisdom tradition King Lemuel’s mother taught him:

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel—
not for kings to drink wine,
not for rulers to crave beer,

lest they drink and forget what the law decrees,
and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.

Give beer to those who are perishing,
wine to those who are in anguish;

let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.”
–Proverbs 31:4-7 (NIV).

I believe this biblical passage above is saying those who drink and drug to inebriation are doing such because they’re hopeless, miserable, perishing, poor, and in anguish that’s quite simply, inescapable. They are the equivalent of the procrastinator who can’t see the liberation they’ll get from actually doing the tasks they’re avoiding.

Everyone has pain to deal with; even those who’ve never been abused or neglected. We’re all maladjusted to life in some form or other.

Turning over the biblical passage again, we find we might not be rulers or kings--not having their responsibilities of rule, but we do have hope. If we’ve been forgiven we have hope. And there is one reason (amongst the many) why we’ve been forgiven--it is so we can truly feel how God has designed us to feel. To ‘feel real.’

To drink or take drugs or overeat is to escape the painful existence our lives have become. No longer do I need to mask my pain with drink, food or a drug. People who drink, eat wrongly or take drugs are often masking their emotions, escaping them, and are not living in truth. They do it because they’re not blessed with the union of God in the reconciliation of their feelings--they are in a sense, unforgiven--they haven’t forgiven themselves, let alone let God do it.

There is a way out of course. The God of truth is also the God of love and forgiveness. He can help us be true to our pain, and help us cope with the rawness of it, without substances to mask the pain.

God wants to forgive us; in fact, he sent his Son to die on the cross--his very act of forgiveness and grace towards us. All we need to do is recognise where we’ve gone wrong, and turn back to him. We express faith in this, trusting him, believing he will do for us things we couldn’t do for ourselves. We acknowledge that life was not meant to be lived estranged to God.

Do you want to feel real? Have you been forgiven? If you answered “yes” to the first question but “no” to the second question, you could Google the “believer’s prayer.” This prayer has three components. It should only be prayed if we genuinely want to say sorry to God, ask his forgiveness (which he will give) and commit to walking with him from now on. It’s advised to do this with a trusted and knowledgeable God believer to assist you.

The inevitable result usually is... suddenly, with the wind of the Holy Spirit beneath your wings, you will have the strength to try this naturally aspirated life of living real i.e. without the crutch. You will learn the ability of honesty with yourself and with others. This is what programs like AA and NA major on--honesty. (We all have the propensity to be dishonest.) You will, perhaps for the first time, be able to live in truth without being crippled by fear.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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