The strength of a life is in its roots. This is true of a physical tree, and our tree of life. The root system serves to guarantee the existence of the tree. Without healthy roots, a tree system cannot survive. They provide a firm base, an anchor for the whole structure of a tree – the trunk – the branches – leaves – fruit. They are all dependent on that healthy root system. One of the primary functions of the root system is to draw water and nourishment from the soil to feed on. This will allow our roots to grow deep to firmly establish and define us.
To live the abundant life of a believer, we must be firmly rooted in God’s love and grace. But first, we must remove and let go of the toxic things that hinder us from being who God created us to be. Shame has no room in the life of a believer. Beloved, please understand that our past does not define us. The sins that hurt us whether ours or someone else’s perpetrated against us are not who we are. They kept us from being who God created us to be causing us to adopt unhealthy coping mechanism and put up walls around our hearts to keep from being hurt. These walls kept everyone else out including God. Addiction, sexual sin, trauma, neglect, abuse, violence, betrayal, unmet needs may not be able to be erased from our minds, but we can be free of their damaging effects on our souls.
God sets us free by helping us walk through and process the pain, grieve losses, remove all the lies we have believed about ourselves and others, enabling us to offer and receive forgiveness. This releases us from the bondage of being a byproduct of our past. With certainty, research confirms we are affected by negative and hurtful experiences in our history. However, because of Christ’s sacrifice and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, we don’t have to be a slave to our past any longer. Jesus sets the captives free and firmly plants us in the nourishing soil of His unfailing love and grace so that our roots will grow deep in the truth of who we are in Him, so when the storms of life come we will not be uprooted.
Many struggles in life often are fought on the battlefield of our minds. That’s why James writes “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1). That’s why we are exhorted in God’s Word to demolish any thought that goes against what God says is true about any given situation.
We are in a Spiritual battle and need to take every stray thought captive and repent, correct it and align it with the truth of God’s Word. If someone has hurt us or wronged us, and are having hateful thoughts towards that person, we need to take that hateful thought captive immediately so that bitterness does not take root in our hearts and defiles us. (Hebrews 12:15)
We need to stop, realize what is truth in the situation, take responsibility for our wrong actions, ask for forgiveness, acknowledge when they are wrong, understand that we cannot change another person, offer forgiveness, release them to God and choose not to hate. The victory in the battle is won when we discipline our thinking, so it focuses on thoughts that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and are praiseworthy to God. (Philippians 4:8)
Negative emotions like anger, bitterness, hate, jealousy, fear, anxiety can kill us. They are joy stealers. They suck the life out of us and hinder us from living abundant lives in Christ. The good news is that we are not powerless. God has given us a choice to meditate on life giving thoughts or thoughts that bring death in our lives and render us defeated. Choose life! Choose victory! Make it a practice to capture every negative thought and choose to replace them with good ones which come from the truth of God’s life-giving Word.
We are told in scripture to let go of the past and reach forward to what’s ahead. Sadly, many of God’s children cannot let go or forget the past because they have been wounded and crippled emotionally in one way or another, and the past is affecting their present life. So instead of running the Christian race they limp along the way often overcome with guilt and shame for not “getting it” like other Christians seemingly do.
Our Churches are filled with two types of emotional crippled Christians, The first have open wounds in their hearts that they medicate through negative behaviors such as addiction, immorality, anger, etc. They live in denial of their pain not realizing their destructive and hurtful behaviors have a root cause.
The second group of wounded believers are also in denial, but through sheer willpower, they have chosen to bury and rise above their past often pouring themselves into ministry, volunteer work, charities, and other busy activities out of a personal need to be needed and valued rather than a healthy heart to serve. By staying busy, they don’t have to face themselves and the wounds inside or learn to receive from others.
These two groups have one important thing in common – they have never accepted the Grace of God. Whatever they do, even spiritually, it never seems to be enough. It’s as if they have to earn God’s acceptance, and yet never feel they are good enough to receive it fully. The first group is overcome with sinful behaviors; while the second group is so busy “being good” they don’t even consider the possibility that they may have festering wounds inside that need healing.
It is only when unresolved areas within are dealt with that the past can truly be put behind and we are able to run the race with endurance and assurance of God’s calling and purpose for our life.
“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Why is it so important that we do not fall into the trap of thinking that we have to be perfect? Because there are no perfect people! But trouble comes when we expect ourselves and others to be perfect. Perfect people don’t have problems so we feel “pressured” to be perfect and cannot admit our problems.
When problems are not presented to God and each other, we cannot be comforted, or if in private desperation we cry out to God and see relief, we cannot share our testimony because we would have to admit to the problem in the first place. That means that we cannot comfort others! What a loss to the person needing help and the blessing for us in helping others.
We would miss the whole point of what Paul is talking about in this passage of scripture. When we can stop fighting our brokenness and instead accept it, we can surrender our need to cover the shame by trying to be perfect, earn acceptance, get validation, prove our value and worth, or check out of life in various ways so we don’t have to face our brokenness. When we do this we live in survival mode and miss out on the abundant Christian life grounded in this truth – It is in my brokenness, powerlessness, and in my weakness that my JESUS is made stronger.
Only when this truth resonates deep in our hearts are we able to identify with other’s brokenness. Let’s cry out to God and be comforted and invite others to experience the same kind of comfort we received. This is the true Christian life!
If you have been a victim of any form of abuse, neglect, abandonment that is still affecting your life and crippling your ability to walk in the fullness of Christ, then you should consider seeking out help through Christ-centered professional or pastoral counseling to be mandatory as soon as possible.
In seeking help, seek out those persons who are specifically trained to help you deal with your particular issue and fully rely on the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit through the inerrancy of God’s Word to help you replace the faulty message left behind by acts of abuse or neglect with God’s truth. It is the truth that sets us free. Only the authority of God’s living word has the power to heal, change and restore hearts and lives.
Other resources are available to you like support groups designed to help those who have been victimized in various ways. What you must remember is the sinfulness of other persons visited upon you is in no way an act of God. In no way were the acts of sinful abuse, neglect, and abandonment put upon you the will of God. Remember God loves you beyond measure. God wants you protected and sheltered from any form of abuse, neglect, hurt, or abandonment.
Beyond professional help and counseling, a substantial part of your life will need to be devoted to surrendering your pain and heartache to Christ. Christ is the son of a loving God. Christ and His Father in heaven possess a wrath to be visited upon those who take advantage of and hurt others. Your place is not to even the score or get revenge with others.
To find healing from the abuse, neglect, or abandonment you suffered, the focus of your life should be surrendering up your hurt and pain into Christ’s nail-scarred hands.