Friday, July 17, 2009

Driven by Guilt or Shame?

WE ALL take after our parents (or a parent) in one part or other, in some shape or form. Chances are we either share a legacy around over-achievement or substance abuse (and don’t read illegal substances into that). The cold hard facts are our parents were broken individuals too. If you’re in your 30s or 40s by now and have children, you’ll have begun to realise this already. (If you want to skip most of this article, don’t miss the Post Script.)

So, what do we do? How do we reconcile the mess of our pasts, even if that’s only a little mess (if we haven’t already)?

John and Staci Eldredge have authored men’s and women’s books on the subject of ‘discovering the secret of the soul,’ which are fresh, liberating exposés of every human being’s struggle, if we’re honest.[1]

The truth is, “No [person], for any considerable period of time, can wear one face to [themself] and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the truth” –Nathaniel Hawthorne.

The salient reality is none of us go far in life without reconciling the double life. I recall living the double life for many years before my life, as it was, imploded. (We all have an implosion in our future midsts if we’re living double lives.)

When we consider a range of neuroses that might encumber us on the way to fuller psychoses (if we venture that far), we ought to be quite self-motivated to do the reconciling whilst we have time. It’s simply about acknowledging the truth about ourselves, our past, our history, our family, our upbringing--absolutely nothing to be guilty about or ashamed of.

Guilt and shame are the master weapons of the Devil (John 10:10a). He’d rather we wallow in our guilt and shame for a lifetime than seek God’s help, because he knows the reality; it is only God who can truly help. (Even if you’ve taken the courage to reconcile your past without God’s help, who do you think gave you the courage? Yet you don’t give credit? Be careful, you’re perhaps placing self-imposed limits on your further development and success.)

Guilt and shame are so inherently common; it’s itself a shame!

We need to take the journey inward (to soul depth) before we can take the soul-satisfying journey outward into a free land, as yet undiscovered, to the exploration of our own souls. And this is life, ‘but not as we know it,’ to paraphrase Star Trek.

We must see God’s role, and very purpose, in the recovery of souls, and yes, yours... mine... ours! He is bringing each of us back to him through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Reconciler.

Given our histories and the human problem of the heart toward abuse, inadequacy and selfishness, this truth is incontrovertible, though we still might not like it. Not liking it won’t change the fact.
God is behind us getting life, and that abundantly (John 10:10b). He is the only one who holds the key to the discovery of our souls toward our very own freedom.

Do you itch?


POST SCRIPT: Getting back to the very first paragraph, the one on the brokenness of our parent(s); one thing we have in increasing forms these days is an approaching and openness toward truth. ‘Self-help’ has never been more available than nowadays.

If we’re starting to see that our parents really did try their best at the time of our upbringings but we haven’t still forgiven them for transgressions we found against us, isn’t it time to begin that process? (Without making you feel guilty) isn’t it time that their souls too were freed, at least in respect to ourselves? Isn’t it time, at least, for us to begin the soul work on ourselves as part of that process? It’s our call. It’s always been our call. It’s never been about ‘the other person.’

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

[1] A good place to start investigating the Eldredges’ work is

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