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Saturday, May 28, 2016

'Fess up or you'll all pay

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Although I did find myself using many of the parenting tools my parents employed when raising me, there were exceptions. The shame game was one of them, as was the "why can't you be more like..." gambit. Name-calling also was taboo. Another technique I eschewed was the oft-applied "'fess up or you all pay."

Details of particular infractions escape my memory, but the gist of that gambit was that Mom and/or Dad would gather all of the suspects (usually all five of us once Danett was old enough to be considered a viable suspect), name the infraction and then give us the directive to "talk amongst yourselves" until the culprit came forward, with the understanding that if no one confessed to the misdeed, we would all be punished.

To the best of my recollection, the guilty party always 'fessed up. None of us could bear seeing someone else suffer for our sins. Thankfully, they eventually gave up on this gambit, perhaps because the innocent poured out liberal measures of comfort over the guilty, once the punishment was meted out.

I'm not sure the same would be true with today's "It's not my fault" sentiment running rampant. There are innumerable variations on that theme, one being that of an acquaintance who believes he is best qualified to "judge himself," expressing little interest in God's judgment.

His philosophy on self-judgement sounds pretty good on the surface. After all, no one else has lived his life, nor been faced with precisely the same choices he has faced, therefore, no one else can say that one decision or another was definitely the wrong choice for him.

There is the small matter, however, of our inability to see ourselves clearly. It is easy to stand at a distance and judge someone else's choices, lifestyle and personality, but when we get up close and personal with the face that appears in the bathroom mirror every morning, all objectivity seems to disappear.

The Supreme Court recently revealed that they don't have a problem with people pretending that they have won medals or that they performed imaginary acts of valor. Well, six of the justices don't have a problem with this type of misrepresentation, as evidenced by the court striking down the "Stolen Valor Act" in June 2012, stating that such statements, even though blatantly false, are covered under the first amendment right of free speech. I can only imagine my dad's reaction if I had tried that line when caught in a lie. Suffice it to say, I would have only tried it once.

"It's not my fault" is right up there with stolen valor, at least in my opinion. At some point in time, unless one wants to remain or be considered to be a child forever, a la' Peter Pan, each of us must come to the realization that our choices are ours alone, and that each decision made has brought us to this day and the decisions we will make, today.

Perhaps some really do prefer to remain childlike victims, holding fast to their wounds -- which are undoubtedly real -- refusing to be comforted, refusing to be healed.

Jesus asked the paralytic man, "Do you want to get well?" near the pool at Bethesda in John 5:6. It was a fair question then, and it's a fair question now. Whether the affliction is physical, as it was for the paralytic, or emotional; in order for anyone to find any measure of healing, they must first be willing to be healed.

Instead, we nurse our grudges as carefully as a newborn at the breast. We share our stories of woe with those with sympathetic ears and relish their affirmation of our misery. We seek out those who support our blanket condemnation of those who have wounded us and even embellish the wounding if we sense their support is wavering. If it sounds like the voice of experience speaking here, that's because it is. If they gave prizes for nursing grudges, I'd have a trophy for my mantel (if I had a mantel).

There's a great quote by Max Lucado that says, "God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way."

Because God is the perfect and only Father, he gently raises those who call him Father in his nurture and admonition. Part of that means dealing with the deep roots of bitterness that have hardened our hearts. This upbringing is as unique as the individual now called a child of God, and through Father's gentle admonitions and abundant patience, I finally came to realize that each of those who had wounded me so severely were wounded souls themselves and in spite of the wounds inflicted, had, in their own way, loved me as best they could.

Once I had that information, forgiveness flowed, full and free. But the one who truly found freedom was me. Tarnished memories are now polished silver. The heartache renewed as the wound was revisited fades from conscience thought, the scab is gone, the scar it left, fading as well.

Another freedom was soon realized. My heart, once so easily broken, became softer but somehow more resilient. Perhaps the bitterness carried for so long, intended to protect, instead allowed a shattering. Now soft, it deflects even the sharpest arrows.

What I have done, I have done. My choices. My decisions. Who I am today is the result of decisions made through nearly 57 years of living and I am accountable for each one.

Thankfully, there is One who didn't wait to ask me if I wanted him to take the fall, he simply put one foot in front of the other up the long climb to Golgotha, and paid the debt in full.

"What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Romans 7:24, 25 (NIV)

I don't have all the answers, but I know, and love, the One who does. Let's walk in his love and discover him, together.


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