Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
19 “This is the basis for judgment: The light came into the world, and people loved darkness more than the light, for their actions are evil. 20 All who do wicked things hate the light and don’t come to the light for fear that their actions will be exposed to the light. John 3:19-20, CEB
I started a new story two days ago. Get caught up before continuing.
Person: “I was told to come to talk to you because I don’t believe in God anymore and that you were a person who would have something helpful for me.”
Me: “Well, if you’ve been hurt, and you don’t believe in God anymore as a result, then it’s possible that you need to accept this for now… If you’re struggling to believe but want to believe, then I’ll say this. I think we discover God through being around people who love the way God loves…”
In this conversation, I almost got the sense that this person wanted me to fight with him. I got the impression he wanted me to take a stand for God, to puff out my chest, to tell him why he was so, so wrong to walk away from faith. I got the impression he wanted to be hurt some more so that he could feel justified in his lack of belief.
If I fought him and tried to make a stand for God, I felt that perhaps this would confirm to him that God was not worth considering. He wouldn’t have to own his decision to give up belief. It would be my fault. If I acted like a jerk, this would confirm that God was a jerk who rejects people rather than goes to radical extremes to accept them. And so, for my part, I needed to avoid entering into that conversational game.
As I said yesterday, I believe he was having a shame attack. I believe shame told him that God would not accept him and that people who believe in God would not accept him. The only way for me to resist this message was to suggest that either alternative could be good for him. If you don’t want to believe, then don’t. If you do want to believe, here’s a suggestion. Either option works.
Why do I tell this story? Shame doesn’t let us make decisions. It forces us to stay in a perpetual state of paralysis by analysis. It tells us we’re wrong when, intuitively, we want to resist. When this happens, we stay at war with ourselves. We only have two ways to break the cycle. One is to resist the shame. The second is to find someone else to blame for our problems.