Just a warning, these devotionals are going to start out looking like a feel-good story. Then stuff is going to get real. Buckle the seatbelt!
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
…story began on Day 3…
From yesterday: Are we willing to live in reality or will we settle for fantasy?
As we hinted at a few days ago, one of the key issues in the choice between reality and fantasy is the desire for a defense. The desire to defend ourselves (rather than examine ourselves) is, ironically, the body’s first line of defense against life in reality. The impulse to defend rather than examine is quick and instinctive. It takes hold before we’re even ready to contradict it if we’re not accustomed to anticipating it or recognizing it.
To return to the story from a few days ago, my primary takeaway from those conversations with Jim was how freeing it was for both of us to admit there was no defense. When I didn’t try to defend the church, both of us relaxed. We both felt freed. The acknowledgement of a problem has the potential to be incredibly freeing for both the wrongdoer and the victim (note the word “potential”- this is obviously not always the case).
Why does the acknowledgement of harm done have the potential to free but wrongdoer and victim? I do not fully know- but I suspect that, at least in part, it is freeing because the temptation to defend is so strong and so pervasive. The most common response a wrongdoer has when confronted with his or her wrongdoing is to deny and defend. Victims become accustomed to listening to denials and defenses. At some point, they no longer expect the wrongdoer to live in reality. They expect fantasy. They may even go along with fantasy. Or, at the very least, they may stop fighting against fantasy because they are taught that reality will not be heard or acknowledged.
Now, as you’re reading this, you may think of the times your wrongdoers have done this to you. However, in order to end this cycle, we must look inward and consider the ways in which we, ourselves, commit to fantasy living. We are all at risk of becoming people who stop listening to victims because of our own temptations to deny, defend, and live in fantasy.