Tuesday, July 12, 2016

New Identity

For better or worse, this blog has become a journal for me.

Tonight's Celebrate Recovery was tough. We watched a video testimony of a mother daughter team, both recovering addicts, both made major mistakes as moms. The mom talked about her own pride issues and how it kept her from drawing close to God. The daughter spoke about her unforgiveness towards herself and how that kept her from recovery.

I was surprised by the emotional explosion their testimonies set off in my heart, I really wasn't prepared for it. When we went to small group time, I ugly cried, even though I couldn't really understand exactly what hurt so badly.

I feel so much unforgiveness towards myself. I hate that I delayed Grace's diagnosis by not catching her bruises for weeks after the cancer started. I feel I let her hurt because I didn't have the guts to stand up to the ER doctors and demand more tests.  I can't seem to shake the feeling that I could have done something to stop it. I feel I broke promises that I made to protect my kids no matter what.

I can't seem to allow God's forgiveness to heal me because I don't want to be forgiven, not by God, not by me.

If I allow myself to feel guilty over her cancer than I can continue to pretend that I caused it. Obviously I didn't, but by pretending I did, I retain some feeling of control. The only alternative is to admit I have absolutely no control over cancer, over Grace's life, over my life. I think only people whose lives have been completely out of control can understand what I'm trying to say. It's terrifying. It requires total trust in God or total despair. There is no middle ground.

I didn't really realize that I was trying to keep control by not forgiving myself until tonight. I didn't realize it was pride. I was trying to be God, by trying to control Grace's cancer and also by deciding that his forgiveness wasn't sufficient.

I also realized that I have made an identity for myself that is in opposition to God. Since I was very young I had this image of a super-me. I saw myself as capable of withstanding great pain, overcoming all obstacles, a survivor, a healer, a savior...and for the areas I lacked, I condemned myself. This is the most tidy and neat form of pride that exists.

The pain I've been keeping inside has been creeping out. Lately I've been angry all the time, hurrying the kids for no reason, making stupid tasks important, and totally exhausted. Which makes me condemn myself more. I can no longer have this identity if I am to be healed by God.

I loved what "Ellen" said tonight at CR, 'If I had known back then what I know now, then I wouldn't have done it. So I can't judge myself for it, I have to forgive myself. And just say 'Jesus help.'"

In order to forgive myself I have to first see myself as someone who didn't know it all back then. I have to admit I never was the super-me and then I have to forgive and accept that un-super-me. Just the way Jesus has forgiven me. I have to see myself as Jesus sees me, totally broken, totally forgiven, totally redeemed.

I have to accept that I have no control over life, death, or cancer. I have to rely on Jesus, and trust that He is good, even when life is devastating. I have to accept his forgiveness and accept that he loves me as I am, not as I should be.

I have to discover myself, to be the just-me-not-super-but-not-condemned who can make mistakes and forgive herself.

I think I will.


  1. In his book, The Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning talks about a man named John Kavanaugh, a brilliant ethicist who went to work for three months at "the house of the dying" in Calcutta. He was seeking a clear answer as to how to best spend the rest of his life. On the first morning there he met Mother Teresa. She asked, "And what can I do for you?" Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him.
    "What do you want me to pray for?" she asked. He voiced the request that he had from thousands of miles from the United States: "Pray that I have clarity."
    She said firmly, "No, I will not do that." When he asked her why, she said, "Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of." When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, "I have never had clarity, what I have always had is TRUST. So I will pray that you trust God."
    I believe the problem with almost all of Christians is not trusting God because to trust means to let go and not to try to, as you say, "...to admit I never was the super-me and then I have to forgive and accept that un-super-me. Just the way Jesus has forgiven me. I have to see myself as Jesus sees me, totally broken, totally forgiven, totally redeemed." And if I may add, totally HELPLESS.

  2. Sha, thanks for adding this. I agree with the helpless, as much as it's difficult for me to say. Brennan Mannings is the reason I became a Christian, the Raggamuffin Gospel is my all time favorite book. Thanks for your comment, means a lot.