FWIW: Three messages posted to the “Messages” page today. Cheers!
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)
I realized somewhere along my life journey that I had a tape recorder playing in my head. The recording was a montage of voices of the past and negative blurts that had clung to my soul as though someone had stuck them there with velcro. The recording played on a loop in my head like Muzac in a department store. I was largely unaware of it most of the time, but the recording played over and over and over again reinforcing certain negative messages:
- I’m not a good enough person
- I’m not a good enough husband
- I’m not a good enough dad
- If people really knew me they’d reject me
- I’m such an idiot
- I don’t have a clue what I’m doing
- I’m never going to be [fill in the blank]
- I’m such a hopeless wretch, God won’t really forgive me
There came a point in my journey when I became aware of these shame-full messages whispering in the background of my consciousness. I began to realize just how insidious and powerful they were in framing my self image, my perspective, and even my behaviors. They contributed to nagging attitudes of insecurity and defeat.
I began to listen more carefully. I began to write these negative blurts down as I heard them and then identified them. Where possible, I identified the source of that negative blurt from my past. If possible, I tried to identify how and when it was that I came to believe that negative message about myself. I brought them out into the light of day and examined them thoroughly, memorizing what they looked life, sounded like, and felt like.
I began consciously, day-by-day, to create a new recording. This recording was based on affirming messages sourced on what God says about me:
- I am loved
- I am fearfully and wonderfully made
- I am forgiven, my sins remembered no more
- I am purified from all unrighteousness
- I am blessed
- I am a child of God
- I am an heir of God
- I am the light of the world
- I am the salt of the earth
- I am more than a conqueror
- I am enriched in every way
From that point on, whenever I recognized one of my old negative blurts whispering to me, I turned up the volume on my new recording. It wasn’t a quick process. It took time and tenacious effort. Slowly, however, things began to shift. My mind began to transform and let go of the old messages as it embraced the new.
Today, I’m thinking about the story that I have for so long told about myself deep in the recesses of my soul. I’m thinking about how much that story contrasts with the story that God tells about me. So often I’m the prodigal child approaching God, hat-in-hand, repeating the self-written story of my wretched unworthiness. God is the prodigal’s father believing and telling a very different story of just how loved, honored, and valued I am.
The question is: Which story will I choose to believe?
These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said as he told his sons good-bye. He blessed each one with an appropriate message. Genesis 49:28 (NLT)
What we say as parents and, perhaps more importantly, what we left unsaid can create soul-wounds which can and will negatively affect generations of a family. A few months ago, Wendy and I had the privilege of participating in a service project in which we read part of an audiobook that will be used by our local hospice when families have a loved one who is dying. The book, The Four Things That Matter Most, was written by Dr. Ira Bock who is an authority in the area palliative and end-of-life care. In his book, Dr. Bock recommends four messages that need to be said between loved ones before death:
- “Please forgive me.”
- “I forgive you.”
- “Thank you.”
- “I love you.”
I thought about Dr. Bock’s book this morning as I read Jacob’s death-bed words to each of his sons. I put myself in the shoes of each son and considered what each might have felt upon hearing the words. I came up with a broad range of emotions from shame, guilt, envy, curiosity, hurt, anger, bewilderment, and pride. While there were some positive emotions in the list, they were overshadowed by the negative.
I believe Jacob spoke the right words, but they were at the wrong time. I’m sure that he spoke spoke truth to his sons and expressed what his heart felt before he died, but as I look at the diverse list of emotions I jotted down I can only imagine that Jacob’s words created more wounds and division than healing and harmony among the brothers. Furthermore, Jacob purged his heart and mind before he died, giving no opportunity for conversation, reflection and relational healing.
There is a time for everything, a time to wound and a time to heal. There is a time for confrontation and honesty, but confrontation and honesty right before one breathes his or her last tends to create a one way monologue that may open wounds in their loved ones which will never heal this side of death. The time for that crucial conversation is when both parties are able to have a conversation, perhaps a series of conversations, along with the necessary time and space to work things out and come to a mutual understanding. When this is done in a timely way in life, there is a greater opportunity to hear the four things that matter most to be said before death.
Our words have the power to wound or to heal. Let us be careful how we wield them, especially with those whom we love most in this life.
- Tragic Stories Touch Secret Wounds (tomvanderwell.wordpress.com)
- Bereavement is a form of emotional sickness (arthurdobrin.wordpress.com)
- Sexual Healing (tomvanderwell.wordpress.com)
- Wanna lower your blood pressure? Forgive. (blogs.mcall.com)
- Sometimes You Have to Go Home (tomvanderwell.wordpress.com)
Here is God's Message to the prophets, the preachers who lie to my people:"For as long as they're well paid and well fed, the prophets preach, 'Isn't life wonderful! Peace to all!' But if you don't pay up and jump on their bandwagon, their 'God bless you' turns into 'God damn you.' Micah 3:5 (MSG)
Life is a mixture of good times and bad, of hope and despair. The journey takes us through peaks and valleys. Sometimes we need an encouraging pat on the back. Sometimes we need a swift kick in the pants. When life is out of balance, my perceptions quickly become clouded.
The prophets of Micah's day were out of balance. Their motivation was selfish ("I only care about my own personal needs") and their message was a bubble off plumb ("I'll say whatever you want to hear as long as the money keeps rolling in"). I can think of many of today's "prophets" and see parallels. There is nothing new under the sun.
I can't control others, but I can control myself. Today, I think about the messages I send to family, friends, clients and co-workers. I want to make sure that the words and messages out of my own mouth reflect a healthy balance. I don't want to reflect my own selfish motives, but as much as possible I want to objectively reflect what is true.