Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Truth Will Set You Free

Disney’s 2000 movie, “The Kid,” depicts the story of a very successful image consultant, working for the big names in politics, sports, and the media. Ironically, Russ has developed quite an image for himself as an over-driven, selfish, and heartless man. A bachelor, he lives alone in a huge house full of glass with an uncomfortably sterile environment.

Russ’ controlled life is turned upside down when a mysterious kid shows up, bearing the same name (going by Rusty, Russ’ childhood name), the same scars, and the same pudgy body Russ once had. When denial and disregard fail to get rid of the boy, Russ finally acquiesces, and begins asking questions to figure out what truth he must recover from his past to move forward in his future.

The subject of his dad comes up, and Rusty talks about how he gets angry and yells at him when he messes up. In fact, he's carrying a screw in his pocket that he lost a week before and had since found, but was too scared to tell his dad about it. Their conversations take them back to his 8th birthday when the young Rusty ends up in a fight on the playground at school. When his mother comes to retrieve him, we learn from the principal she has been very ill, unbeknown to Rusty. His father unexpectedly meets them in the driveway as they return home.

Watch the clip below of that fateful day.

STOP the video at 2:55. It is important to stop here--you can finish the clip after reading to the end of the blog. Be sure your volume is turned up.

Remember Jesus said, referring to Satan, "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy" (John 10:10). And the primary way he does so is by lying to us about ourselves, others, how we perceive a situation, God, and more. Jesus tells us the devil was a "murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44b)

What is he after you ask? Our heart. Satan knows who you can be and he fears you. As daughters of Eve, yes, we know now we are bent toward sin, but we were created in the image of a beautiful and glorious, life-giving God. Woman is called ezer kenegdo (Genesis 2:18), better translated as lifesaver. (to understand more see, "God's Love, PartVIII "Experience the Width," October 2010 archive). When we live from our hearts the way we were originally intended, not only are we free, but we are able to offer life to others in their time of desperation.

When we are young we know nothing of Eve's story nor God's plan of redemption, so our enemy seeks to take us out early. While we are freshly wounded and most vulnerable, he pours salt into our wounds with his soul-killing lies. In the scene from "The Kid," we see how Rusty grew up believing his mother's death was his fault. As children, we lack the spiritual, mental, and emotional maturity to process our experiences accurately. Then we are further wounded into believing horrid things about ourselves (Stasi Eldredge, Captivating).

To make matters worse, we end up making all sorts of vows out of self-protection, burying our souls even deeper with every wound, every lie believed, and every new vow. For Russ, he was never going to cry, be weak, or let anyone close to his heart. It seemed too great a risk. Someone might get hurt, and no one was going to find him at fault again. He was in complete control of his life.

The verbal and sexual abuses I endured as a child and teenager left me feeling hopeless, bad, and a constant disappointment (to others and to God); shame had arrested me. Because I believed the crimes against me were solely my fault, I also believed I was a dangerous person. That my desires for love, care, and attention only got me into trouble (God-given desires the enemy had twisted.). I had better stay away from people--don't get too close. Steel walls were erected around my heart, no one was getting in, and this girl wasn't about to get out. As a result, duty, busyness, and control summed up my adult life.

Like Russ in the movie, I had to go back to the places I was wounded to identify the lies and discover the truth. This is not connecting with your "inner child" as some psychologists and new age believers would tell you. This is about your heart. John Eldredge says, "Life is a journey of the heart that requires the mind, not the other way around." Jesus wants to free us from the lies and labels of our past that chain us. We must invite Him in, give Him permission and access to our broken hearts.

Those vows we made as children act as sort of a covenant, a deep seated agreement with the messages (lies) of our wounds. They are dangerous. The key to unlocking them is in renouncing them. We cannot wait until we no longer feel they are true, we must renounce them before we're convinced they aren't true. Renouncing the agreements unlocks the door to Jesus. (Captivating)

Here's an example of how we would pray, taken from Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge.

Jesus, forgive me for embracing these lies. This is not what you have said of me. You said I am your daughter, your beloved, your cherished one. I renounce the agreements I made with [name the specific messages you've been living with. "I'm stupid. I'm ugly." You know what they are.] I renounce the agreements I've been making with these messages all these years. Bring the truth here, oh Spirit of Truth. I reject these lies.

And let the tears come. Tears validate our pain. They are, in a sense, like healing balm to our weary souls, tired from holding everything in for so long. Let it all out. Jesus Himself was a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). Make time for this. I used to get alone in my closet, my car, anywhere private and safe.

You need to give yourself permission to feel again. Many things will erupt. Anger was a first for me. That's okay. Anger is not a sin (Ephesians 4:26). You may also feel remorse, as I did. Deep sorrow over so many years lost. Whatever comes, let it be.

"Grief is a form of validation; it says the wound mattered. It mattered. You mattered. That's not the way life was supposed to go. There are unwept tears down in there--the tears of a little girl who is lost and frightened. The tears of a teenage girl who's been rejected and has no place to turn. The tears of a woman whose life has been hard and lonely and nothing close to her dreams."
(Captivating, p. 103)

Once the lies are broken, "then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). Such freedom will reverse the life of control to a life of in the One who set you free.

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