The Only Way Forward Is An Honest Look Back

We all need God to save us from our sin — to stand in our place on the front line of a spiritual battle we can never win. You can read my testimony here.

Some of us also need God to save us from someone else’s sin.

I don’t know exactly how we find ourselves on the front line of someone else’s spiritual battle, but I believe it’s especially common for women. We are, in fact, emotionally weaker than men. That does not make us inferior. It’s a beautiful gift, however — it does make us more vulnerable.

We get saved — truly realizing the full weight of our guilt and the grace poured over us through Jesus’ sacrifice and so, we take on a burden for others. We want them to know the forgiveness and security we’ve come to know.

That’s a good burden to have, but not when we feel so overly responsible for others that we lose sight of where our responsibility ends and theirs begins. We fail to hold people accountable for their own choices and enable them. Somehow we’re deceived into believing that this “grace” will save them. The problem is that the truth and repentance are missing. It’s likely to be an unhealthy pattern we’ve always known — that we carry right into our Christian life.

I was never supposed to be on the front line of my earthy father’s battle, but it was all I ever knew. I wasn’t just the child of an emotionally and mentally unstable, abusive addict — I was the child of an emotionally and mentally unstable, abusive, addicted preacher.

For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out WHY I wrestled as I did with confusion in my Christian life. Hmmm.

Until you have escaped spiritual/emotional/mental abuse — you have no clue how profoundly it affects you. This was “God’s man” to the outside world. What choice did I have but to see the same thing? My compassion was so cruelly manipulated that I felt and lived by his feelings rather than my own. I was his protector and defender — always so tortured by the thought of hurting him that I could never be honest about how he hurt me. It was a living hell for me to escape. I can’t tell you of the war that had to take place within my soul to allow me to take an honest look at him — to be freed from believing that God was angry with me and punishing me for this honesty — from believing that I was responsible for his choices.

God is at work correcting so many lies. While some will call me unloving and unforgiving, He’s helping me understand that I can’t even begin to forgive what I refuse to look at. I’ve learned that honesty about all things is the only way to truly live and love, healthy and holy.

It’s a miracle that I survived. The internal suffering was so intense and wreaked so much havoc to my nervous system that I live with PTSD. The symptoms have continually decreased over the past 2 1/2 years since my last panic attack, but I see the suffering and slow healing as a gift. It forced me OUT of a position I was never meant to be in and KEEPS ME from jumping back into it. Ironically, it’s a wounding that is bringing healing.

Grace, truth and time…

There was no way I could’ve walked through this alone. I went through therapy with a Christian counselor and attended a support group. I’ve read numerous books on healing and recovery from mental, emotional and spiritual abuse. I’ve learned about co-dependence and boundaries. Thank God for boundaries! I’ve learned so many of my personal “whys”, which has helped me change unhealthy relational habits — not just with other people, but even with God, and the learning and growing continues. Only after looking back at all of the pieces, do I believe I’m truly able to move forward.

In his book, Healing is a Choice, Stephen Arterburn exposes the lie that “It does no good to look back or look inside”. He explains:

“If you are riddled with guilt, shame, remorse, anger rage, anxiety, or fear from your past, you need to do some work to solve the mystery of why these feelings exist… Do the work, and don’t listen to anyone who would tell you it is destructive. Become the best student of yourself. Know yourself so that you can come to know all that God has planned for you, and you can live within that plan.” -Healing is a Choice, Stephen Arterburn

We can fight with people in their spiritual battles, but we can’t fight for them. This is a position reserved for God alone.

It’s necessary to examine ourselves — to take a close look at ALL the pieces, including the ways that other people have affected our lives. We can bring it ALL to God, no matter how dark it is. When we see a picture of healing and freedom beginning to form, we can be sure it’s by God’s design.

Are you excessively burdened by the consequences of someone else’s sin — who refuses to acknowledge it? You might need to do some soul searching, friend — and you must get help developing boundaries. It will take an army of wise counsel to free you, but God has provided. You don’t have to hide. We overcome through Jesus, together. 

Please feel free to email me with any questions. I can point you in the right direction!

Healing with you, friends… in life, faith & art ~Jamie

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