Sunday, July 25, 2004

ashes for beauty?

idelette is grieving a loved ones choices over on her blog. the idea that anyone would choose ashes instead of amazing is baffling.

lies are safe. lies are familiar. lies are screaming so loudly that i am undeserving that the amazing that is being held out for me only makes my shame more real.

i read her blog before bed last night and it drove me from mine this morning. it is the cry of confusion, of frustration and disappointment. many have cried it for me, and i am learning that cry for others now.

shame is a horrible task master. it regularly reminds me that i am wrong, i deserve nothing better. that is not said in any way to gain reassurance from those around me. reassurance doesn't help. i can't hear you. the lies are far too loud.

satan is the master of the bait and switch. he takes what is given by god and bastardizes it just one notch. instead of healthy, healing, god-given guilt the devil steps in and turns it into shame. guilt brings life and restoration, shame only death and separation.

the only problem is that in an addict's mind the two have never been separated. our minds are so clouded by shame and the addiction that the life giving guilt that allows others to make different choices has been bastardized by the devil into one and the same. shame convinces me that i am wrong, that i have no choice.

that is why a feast can be prepared before an addict and they will choose to eat the ashes. i try to explain it to the youth i work with by talking about fishing. i personally hate fishing, but liam and my father love it.

they wade in the water and offer food to those fish. big, juicy looking worms and bugs. but they aren't offering food are they? they are offering bait. there is always a hook involved in bait. satan is the baitmaster. he holds out the counterfeit and says 'hey look, yummy!' and those pre-disposed to bait end up falling for it. the false intimacy of pornography, the mind numbing effect of drugs or alcohol, the quick fix of adrenaline that comes from risky behavior, the lie of feeling less empty with my mouth full of food. it all has a hook. it's not the feast of amazing.

watching someone you love head down a path of destruction is one of the most excruciating experiences known to us. a spouse or child, sibling or friend making choices of death instead of life. it is the most confusing thing to watch.

'why can't they see it? here is amazing, here is beauty, here is life.' i can only imagine what we feel as they make those choices is a bit like our heavenly father feels watching us make our choices. seeing life, but choosing death.

nothing convinces an addict but the bottom. it's different for each of us. my bottom was different for my two strongest addictions. sexual addiction's bottom came when i was so rage filled from my shame that i was physically abusive to liam. my food addiction came the first time when i found myself making chocolate chip cookie dough 2-3 times a week and consuming batches at a time, raw.

the second bottom after a relapse came when i was making jiffy cake mixes every day and drinking them raw while hiding between my fridge and my cupboards so no one would see me. addiction drives us to do things that we know are stupid, we know are wrong, we know are ashes. but the relief from the demons of the past, even temporarily is better than the shame of how undeserving i am to accept amazing.

only grace. unbelievable grace when we grasp it. i am powerless on my own. only grace. grace is the one thing that is amazing enough to overcome the shame.

unfortunately our churches have NO IDEA how amazing grace truly is. they also have no idea how diabolical shame truly is either. so until they can get their act together we have to look to things like 12 step groups and psychology (good psychology - there is so much broken, shame based psychology out there that just churns up the rot and stink and makes things worse). until the church gets it's head out of it's backside and starts to get grace it will have to be found individually, not corporately.

my own journey began with phillip yancy's what's so amazing about grace. in that book i finally began to understand the beginnings of what it meant. how amazing it truly was. if you're not into reading he recommends a movie called babette's feast as an illustration of grace, expensive grace, lavish grace. there is also a new visual edition of the book here, here or here.

it is only when we truly get grace that we will truly get amazing.

No comments: