I have been recuperating from some unexpected surgery while visiting another country. I haven’t really been up to thinking much…just sleeping. But during one of my waking moments, I began to reminiscence about J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series that I have read over the last few years. Though fictional, the Harry Potter series has touched me in many different ways. I enjoyed going to see the last movie with my family. I chuckled when my oldest growing up with the Harry Potter series said that her childhood was officially over…I chuckled because I thought the same thing about myself…hahahahaha!
Thinking, it occurred to me about how verbal abuse can overwhelm my mind with lies.
I began thinking about how Voldemort and Harry shared many series of thoughts; very little were good, and most were bad. I thought about how Voldemort desperately wanted Harry to think that he was evil and responsible for much of other’s pain. Voldemort tried to fill Harry’s mind with horrible thoughts and lies. Some of those lies took control of Harry’s mind… at times filling him with great despair.
Then I remembered how Dumbledore asked Snape to train Harry in the magical art of “occlumency”. This was an effort to keep Harry’s mind from being penetrated and influenced by the dark lord (our Satan).
Although occlumency is fictional in the series, it has some useful parallel points to the way I should change my way of thinking.
“Occlumency is the act of magically closing one’s mind against Legilimency. Legilimency is the act of magically navigating through a person’s mind and ‘twisting’ one’s findings to make them feel shameful.”
~ Severus Snape said to Harry Potter (on the difficulty of learning Occlumency): “I told you to empty yourself of emotion! … Fools who wear their hearts proudly on their sleeves, who cannot control their emotions, who wallow in sad memories and allow themselves to be provoked this easily — weak people, in other words — they stand no chance against his [satan] powers! He will penetrate your mind with absurd ease, Potter!“
Now with the above vision in my mind, and since I have seen the movies and read the books, I can begin to understand how verbal abuse has the potential to harm me. I know that many times I think I can deal with these sorts of intrusions on my mind and emotions. I think to myself…I’m older. I’m not a kid. I know the difference between truths and lies; BUT…unfortunately, I don’t believe I truly have the power to deal with such abuse alone.
The reason why I know I can’t do this alone is, like Harry, I depend on “love” to carry me. The problem is the love I expect to carry me is my own or sometimes “false” love from others, rather than His abounding love. My kind of love is not what will “fix” the situation. Only His love that is able to fully cover me–will be the kind of love that will be able to truly carry me.
Because I’ve been verbally abused in the past, and hurtful untruths have been told to me, I have often believed what had been said to me…or the person I should become. I absorbed the lies! They seemed to be have said in a most forceful way, and they were retained in my memory…as if they settled deep within my mind…crossing over many layers of my memories. The lies eventually overwhelm my truthful memories and have left me with a memory of guilt and shame that has filled me with the feeling of being a disgrace.
This is an example of how I have let verbal abuse damage my soul.
So what happens if my memories are filled with lies; with vicious destructive untruths that demeans me? Sometimes I think…I know that these lies are not true; but, other times I obsess over the lies and begin to believe them. The lies literally make me sick!
I love what my counselor, Clifton Fuller says, “If someone says your stupid…your IQ does not go down; unfortunately, if they say you are smart…your IQ does not go up either”.
Indeed I know many things spoken to me are lies. Even knowing some are lies, they still bother me. My memory, in context to the way I think, provides me with the only perspective I have of myself and how I deal with the outside world. I also tend to connect those lies to my spirit within.
When I think about myself, my thought processes automatically refers to my memory. My memory may become filled with the concept that I am a guilty, shameful person who is a disgrace to others…no matter how untrue it may be. It won’t matter–because that is what is left behind in the layers of my mind. My thoughts have become distorted, and my conclusions about myself reflect the negative, ugly lies embedded in my mind. No matter how much I try to deny the lies, they become a part of how I see and think about myself. My thoughts are no longer realistic.
There becomes a point where it’s almost impossible for me to think about myself without bringing the lies within my memory to the surface. In essence, I believe that I am those things. I tend to act upon those lies; which may bring some of them true…which makes the damage even worse…which causes a vicious cycle!
I feel my spirit has become violated. My spirit (or feeling of strong emotion) stems from within. I want to be good, and deserving of His grace. It is a feeling of fulfillment, and my life calling to be worthy of His grace. When my spirit finds itself immersed in a negative view of myself; then, I become that guilty shameful person full of disgrace.
The lies are like darts penetrating my thin skin taking root deep in my soul. The roots take form as depression. I literally let the verbal abuse make me sick!
Yes, I’m a sinner. I deserve to be corrected, and I must be taught that I can’t control everything…especially the way I think I should control things. I should not be so co-dependent on others; but, I do think that there are a few that could be confidants. The problem is that I need to be able to discern what others say…to be able to learn and to discern between the lies and truths.
There have been a few that have tried to convince me that I’m a disgrace…that I’m not worthy of His grace. There have also been those that have tried to convince me not to believe the lies I have been told so many times over the years.
The One who has consistently been by my side…is the One I should listen to always. Jesus is for the brokenhearted, and He would never feed me lies. Jesus, Himself, knows how lies can hurt. In fact, my lies pinned Him on the cross.
Despite who I am, or who I may want to become…I must not believe the lies! My counselor has really helped me to envision myself putting on the full armor of God.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;” ~Ephesians 6:10-16
Harry was successful at extinguishing the flaming darts of the evil one. I, with Jesus‘ help, can also extinguish the flaming darts. I definitely need lots of practice, and to stay focused. Thank goodness for His words that tell me how to equip myself for battle.
Praise Him for His love and mercy!
The question arises, how can a “faithful” Christian have such depressed thoughts that they may consider hurting themselves? Even worse, what if they actually take their own life? Could it be an alternative to facing their fears of rejection (broken trust), shame & guilt from some heinous secret, or a feeling of worthlessness and disgrace?
The Bible does say in Romans that we all sin and we all fall short. We are human living in a fallen world. But, knowing that we were sinners, God sent His son to be pinned and die on the cross for our sins. Christ took our desperation and turned into something great to live for.
Granted most people, at least one time in their life, have probably had thoughts of ending it all (suicide). The amount one dwells on suicide, or letting it consume their being, plays an important part in the level of depression one may be experiencing. We live in a valley of shadow and death; but, within that valley there is life.
Christians are definitely not immune to trials. Being a Christian does not solve all problems; but, it does assure one thing—His forgiveness of all our sins. This is great news! Also, a lot of people think that Christians are “exempt” from the worst of these things.
HELLO! So not true! The devil works overtime to put Christians in a head lock that is impossible to get out of…on their own. Look at Job, Paul, and Moses…they were in some “real” messes that they became desperate enough to want to die.
You may be thinking, “What kept those ‘men of the Bible’ from doing the ‘unthinkable’?” It was love for Him! It was hope in Him!
God intends for us to live a life that He desires for us…a life that includes Him. God promised us a life of hope, love, grace, and mercy; but, He never promised a life where bad things would never happen to good people.
The truth is that the more we “live” our lives for Him, and through Him, the more the evil one tries to breakdown the life of His body in us; thus, trying to destroy us. Because God gave us the freedom to choose, the evil one uses it to his advantage. Satan tries to convince that harming each other, or to telling lies to disgrace…is the way of this world. Sadly, many fall for his trap, and cause much pain for others…including myself.
The “world” can have two different meanings: 1) the world (biosphere) we live in, and 2) the struggles that we experience while living in this world. Sadness and depression is a natural part of life. God gave us these emotions (as well as many others) as a way of dealing with the brokenness of the world we live in. It is the degree that we carry these emotions that can be detrimental to self, or others. Sometimes the reactions of our emotions may be due to an early childhood type of abuse; therefore, it is a way of coping. The problem is as adults those same coping mechanisms don’t work the same way as they did with the child.
The key, in overcoming severe depression, is community…with others. Community can be within a group of church members, or within a support group outside of church. Both can be vital in the healing and recovering process of the oppressed and depressed. Research shows that a committed community, to those that are inflicted with brokenness, can become a vital part in the healing process.
We often need help from others to make sense of what is going on within our inner-selves, and to help us break out of patterns of sin and brokenness. Such freedom to discuss our inner-selves with another person creates a bond whose acceptance is not based on performance but on unconditional love.
The devil does not want hope or love to be found. He will do everything in his power to divert the attention from Him to the lies of desperation that make us feel worthless (which pleases him the evil one). He seemingly causes a feeling of overwhelming disgrace that begins abounding in once joyful hearts. Depression can often become more agonizing than physical pain.
The Bible says that people are of great significance because of being made in the image of God—for His glory. We have become adopted into God’s family. We learn that it is not what we’ve done to deserve to be a part of His family; but, what He did for us. Christ’s death is the reason for our acceptance by God. He promises to never let us go.
This “amazing grace” that God has given us should lead to a life of dedication to Him…allowing us to fight the ongoing battle against the world of sins. God uses the trials of our life to help become more aware of Him, and to have a desire to be more like Christ.
God sometimes uses difficult trials to discipline. In the fight against the evil one, hope is vital. We must listen and draw near to Him. We must be encouraged that this is His sign of His love.
We are reminded that we don’t just struggle against our own idols, or sins; but, against “spiritual forces of evil” in the idol “world” of sin. We must learn to put on the full armor of God. We must wear it every day and always. This will provide protection from the devil’s “fiery darts. We also must “pray just to make it through the day”.
We live with many emotions. We live with groaning hearts. We live with rejoicing hearts.
Where is my love? Where is my hope? It lies within my faith knowing that there is a Lord, Jesus Christ, who sanctified me with His loving grace–by dying on the cross.
This is the day that the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! ~Psalm 188:24
It is that time of year…getting close to high school graduation. There is a lot of excitement, anticipation, and relief that leads up to and follows this important milestone in life. When I checked the mail today,we received an invitation to one such event. My mind wandered and I couldn’t help but to remember my high school graduation…many, many years ago.
I was thinking about how we voted for “Most Likely to Succeed”, “The Funniest”, and of course the “Class Song”. It seems our class was a little divided at the time on what should be the class song. There were several who wanted Pink Floyd’s, “Another Brick in the Wall” and others that wanted the theme song to Lavergne and Shirley, “Making Our Dreams Come True”. I will tell which one was chosen in a bit.
Today, while I was laying in my hammock, I was listening to the K-Love radio station, and Natalie Grant‘s song “Human” came on. All at once all of these emotions and thoughts came swirling into my head. They were actually interrupting my hammock time; therefore, I got up and thought I should write this before I forgot some important points…because I am getting to the age that I forget lots of things.
Now where was I? Oh yeah, Natalie Grant’s song. I have heard this song many times; but, I don’t think it ever made as big impression on me as it did today. I am including part of the lyrics because it leads up to a thought I had.
Natalie Grant’s “Human“
Every life has a choice to rise up to fill the void.
Every heart has a mission and we are called to be human.
We gotta do better than this ’cause we only got one chance to make a difference.
We gotta do better than this ’cause we only got one life that we’ve been given.
A little love, a little kindness, a little light in this time of darkness.
It’ll be what makes us different. It’ll be what makes us human.
I’m human, you’re human, we are human.
We are marked with His image and we are scarred with indifference.
Maybe now we should listen; hear the cry of God‘s children.
It’ll be what makes the difference. It’ll be what makes us human.
Wow! Isn’t this wonderful that God has given us life, we are made in His image, and we all have a chance to make a difference…because we are human. Will it hurt us show a little love and kindness toward others? What about those (like me) who have sinned? What about those who have been sinned against due to sexual abuse,domestic violence, addiction, or maybe made fun of because they are different? Would it hurt us to give a little of His Light to shine in a time of darkness for others?
Survivors, of any type of brokenness, often seek answers to spiritual questions from non-spiritual sources. Most often this happens because they have been pushed away by people who said they were Christians (like me). I am guilty of raining down on someone rather than being a ray of sunshine. Sometimes pushing one away is easier than acknowledging the pain that another may have experienced. This may cause more wounds which prolongs the healing process. Sometimes the scarring for the survivor covers much of their body, and they may begin to hide their goodness deep inside.
You know I claim to be an okay Christian, but guess what? I sin and make mistakes all the time. I’M HUMAN! I don’t always reach out when I should. But, on the flip side, I am also a survivor. In some ways, we all are survivors of some sort of battle that may be unbeknown to us.
Because we are human we are in constant battle with the prince of darkness, and we need to remember to put on the full armor of God for protection. God provides us with many pieces of armor; but, the belt of truth is an important place to start.
The definition of “truth” is the state of being sincere, in accordance with fact and/or reality. We all desire to know the truth…especially His truth. We want to know that His mercy and grace is real no matter what secret we may have. We want to know that we will not be rejected by Him even when our past comes to Light in this present darkness.
Others may claim that they understand what you have been through and how you feel– even though they may have never been through anything like that. But, remembering that we are all human, each of our experiences are unique to us and the situation. We all have a certain degree of understanding of each other’s pain. Nobody’s experiences should be taken lightly.
Being human, we all have many different strengths and weaknesses. The good news is that co-habiting in this world together, we are able to share them with each other. Unfortunately, some may not appreciate other’s weaknesses over their own strengths…but that usually means they may be overlooking their own weakness.
I believe God places people in our lives to help bring out these strengths. Sometimes, others may have to work hard to bring them out…more like pulling, and sometimes it can be as little as a word of encouragement, or prayer. I will say that establishing a trusting relationship can help; but not always necessary. Either way, one can make a difference in another person’s life by doing as little as random acts of kindness.
Know that “Trust can take years to build, but only a second to break.” When trust is broken one, or both parties, may feel that they have been betrayed. A person can be good, and still betray the matter of someone’s heart; for instance, look at Peter denying Christ.
Betrayal is devastating; but, when those you thought to love you betray your trust…the pain is always worse!
When we become wounded we want to retreat and hide rather than facing our fears. We become (pardon the cliche’) “another brick in the wall.” That is where the darkness wants us to hide. He wants us to join him in the wall just blending and having no confidence. The darkness begins to make the wound worse by telling us lies. He wants us to crumble and fall.
This was when I began thinking about Pink Floyd’s song and thinking…in a way we could use the words of his song as a rebuke to Satan. Think about it, we could change the lyrics to make our rebuke.
“…We don’t need no thought control! We don’t need your sarcasm!” So, Satan leave those who are wounded alone! All and all, you are nothing compared to Him. “All and all, you are just another brick in the wall!”
“When someone betrays you, it can become their problem as well because they probably betrayed their own conscience.” Being wounded we must go to God to cry out for healing; but, there comes a time to go back to the betrayer and confront them. Time doesn’t heal all wounds; so, if we don’t act “quickly'”, we give Satan a foothold causing the wound to fester. The only thing that really heals wounds is the soothing salve of His forgiveness.
This led me to think about the Gimble/Fox song “Making Our Dreams Come True” We could take the words of this song to make new matters of our heart. “Nothing’s gonna turn us back now. Straight ahead and on the track now. We’re gonna make our dreams come true. Doin’ it our way.”
BTW, if you were wondering what became our class song, it was “Making Our Dreams Come True” by Gimble and Fox. We took a chance and made it. Go ahead and take a chance trying to make dreams come true. But, instead of “doin’ it our way”, how about we try doin’ it His way!
His way is to put on His full armor of protection, and not let those words of deceit pierce us when we are wounded. We should try being a little “human” and make a difference in the life of others. Don’t be “another brick in the wall”! Allow His Light to shine through you by showing a little love and kindness on someone’s brick in the wall!