I just don’t know how to get out of this cycle of guilt and shame!
We kicked off our present season of Recovery evenings yesterday with the new name, Free!! I am sitting, the morning after, pondering the new and continuing relationships of the night before. People need to talk, to get their story out and I listen to the pain, the struggles, the despair. It is the first week and precious people long for a fresh start but how? Is there hope? Are they condemned to a life of slavery? Each one of these precious souls have at one time or another said yes to Christ, yet why are they still fighting and often defeated by the same behaviours, thought patterns, shame and guilt cycle. There is great hope! It may come in very subtle ways, a slow journey, in unexpected ways but it is there! Having been leading support groups and meeting hurting individuals consistently over the past couple of years I am seeing breakthroughs, people are learning to make a fresh start in their thought life, in the avoidance of sin, in learning about the immense grace of our Lord. People are learning that our Father truly does love them! They are learning that the goal of our Saviour is not necessarily a comfortable life, pain has a purpose and, if we let it, it can grow us! These are participants who know severe pain, often inflicted by others. I think of one of our delightful leaders, who shared that one day her father burnt all her college course notes and she had no possibility of continuing with that course and had to drop out. Her father, in a warped sense of concern, thought his daughter was never going to make much of herself so why bother! How does a young woman learn godly attitudes in such a devastating circumstance, just one of many, sometimes brutal, exchanges with her father. Well, it took some time, going through cycles of drugs, alcohol and self-harm, cutting and eating. If that wasn’t enough, there is rape and the loss of two babies…..goes on and on. She has and is learning to lean into the grace of our Saviour, often in physical pain. She spends her life reaching out in Him to those deeply struggling.
A Fresh start comes one step at a time, one choice at a time, one capture of a thought at a time. 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” That is basically every sinful thought pattern, as you are aware, and counteract each thought with the truth of Scripture. Sometimes life gets so tough that this journey is so very difficult to do alone. Find a loving godly community and be challenged and loved in this way!! I think of the panic attacks and the time I spent pondering and speaking out loud the truth of Scripture, 2 Timothy 1:7. Not easy but God is in the business of fresh starts even if you find yourself doing that time and again throughout a single day! That is grace.