“There is a luxury in self reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has the right to blame us. It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution. “
Blaming myself, for everything had, for me, become a way of life. Many nights, my bedroom walls danced with candlelight, as I tortured myself with blame, confessing my sins to God, and asking Him for forgiveness. And, many more nights, I was tortured by blame cast on me by others.
I, it seemed, could not do anything right. By day, I would be told by those closest to me that I would never amount to anything more than a mattress for a man to rest upon, and “do his business”. You make one mistake, and church folk find out about it, and you’re labled…for life. At night, all the things I had heard earlier in the day would rabble around in my head, and tear at my heart like bear claws against human flesh.
So, I owned it. For years, I walked around with a poked out chest, and a yea-I-did-it attitude. What good would it do to continuously feel shame for something you couldn’t go back in time, and change, and something the praying folk had already condemned you to hell for anyways?
And, this is how sin kept me bound. I knew I was a good person. I would have given the shirt off my back to cover anyone in need. I was respectful to my elders. I would give my last to feed the hungry knowing God would never let me starve, as long as I did right by others. The righteous had condemned me; judged me. But, it never changed the love in my heart. Still, hurt and guilt held me hostage; a prisoner of circumstance.
Like a person kidnapped by a cult, I had been brainwashed into believing that I was nothing, and they were everything. It was my fault that they spoke to me that way. It was my fault that I deserved no mercy. They had the private link to God, and I didn’t. I mean, with a connection like that being held over my head, what else could I have been, but doomed?
But God had a different plan. One day, I woke up feeling different. I had been struck with a moment of clarity, and His Word was brought back to my rememberance. I heard the words in my ear as if someone had leaned in real close, making sure I got the message straight. “For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. Romans 3:23 would be the verse that would change the course of my life.
I sat in my living room that morning, my old, brown couch feeling like brand new, my everyday cup of coffee tasting better than I remembered. And, all I could do was thank God. I told him how sorry I was that I had let what other’s had to say about me keep me so bound that I failed to give Him the proper praise. Oh, I knew the judgement was not likely to stop. But, I also knew that I would never let it pinch my praise again.
Sometimes, the enemy comes right at you. He’ll look you in the eye, and use whatever he can to get control of your heart, and mind. Other times, it’s as subtle as a kiss on the hand. It seems harmless, but the intention is to draw you in blind, comfortable, willing, and with a smile.
I had to learn to link up to God myself. I could not be absolved of my sins by the people in the church, nor could I be condemned by them. Romans 10:9 says “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” I confessed. I believed. And my faith? It was renewed.
Salvation is a personal journey. No one can tell you where conviction should rise, or fall. We are all responsible, after the age of understanding, for our own souls. To be bound by how another may feel about you, and your personal journey, at some point becomes utterly ridiculous. God will not be judging by how they feel about you. He will be judging you by your own works, how you feel, in your heart about them, and how you respond to them.
Blame is but a small word, but the connotations it carries are mountainous. Blame can enslave you, if you let it. Taking responsibility minimizes the word. Confession to God, and repentance, eliminates it.