Sitting on the floor to the right of my desk is a very nice, framed mirror. It is actually a piece that you probably wouldn’t mind having on a shelf or mantle in your home. However, when I pick it up and put it on my desk in front of some clients, it suddenly becomes an instrument of torture.
It is an intriguing moment. I look across the desk and see a very wonderful and special person. Through the eyes of Jesus I see a precious sweetheart son or daughter of God for whom Jesus died. But when I ask the person what they see in the mirror as I place it before them, it is not unusual to hear them say, “An ugly person”, or “A monster”, or “A bad, horrible person.” While Jesus and I truly accept the person sitting there, they totally condemn and reject themselves – and the lie(s) that are the basis for that response are what we work together with Jesus to resolve. Their view of who they are and how they look will only change as the Lord reveals truth to them.
Here is a message I received that may help illustrate what I am talking about:
After our last session I was listening to Christian radio and heard a radical message. It had to do with condemnation. The truth that God does not condemn a born again believer; however we condemn ourselves. Nothing new there – or so I thought! The next words struck home for me: We feel guilty about the way we deal with life and what follows is a strong desire to be punished. When we confess our sins God forgives and buries them; hmmm – where is the punishment in that? So, in our “infinite wisdom,” we meet out punishment on ourselves.
My particular punishment goes like this: “You need self-control in your eating…stop…stop…stop…shame…shame…shame. You are weak and not able to control your eating. You are not a good Christian. You are compulsive and lazy, not willing to do anything about it. If you were a better person you would do this right. Why don’t you trust God? When are you ever going to grow up and display self-control? It’s a fruit of the Spirit, so you must not be Spirit filled.” Before the day is done I have flogged myself over and over for my sin of gluttony. If I can engage someone else to agree with me that I am fat or out of control, the punishment is even better! The guilt is punished as it has to be! After the punishment is over I can move on because I feel like I have lowered the level of guilt/shame and stress.
New knowledge…God is not the author of this false guilt, I am. He is, instead, the one who calls me daughter and who reaches out to me and offers help and love and salve for the hurting places. He wants to enable me to move on. I am asking God to move that knowledge from my head to my heart and ask you to pray with me.
This really is not primarily about this woman feeling good about herself, although that is a wonderful secondary effect. The most important thing here is the Truth – and learning to walk in it. The scripture repeatedly tells us to “Walk in the Light” and that is what we endeavor to help folks do. But as we walk in that Light we can see ourselves as we really are – and that can feel pretty good.