Jesus followed the manner of Old Testament prophets in that he was brutally honest. While false prophets told the Israelites that of course God would rescue them and everything will be all right, a Jeremiah or an Amos countered with, no, really bad times are coming—bad times you have brought upon yourself—so get ready and start repenting and changing your ways. The last words from Jeremiah or Amos would proclaim that, despite everything, God would restore his broken people. But the last part could not come before the hard part.
Think of it this way. You have been in and out of destructive romantic relationships for at least a decade. You keep telling yourself that it’s just bad luck, but a good friend who loves you very much finally confronts you and says things that make you quite angry. She points out that your father has addiction problems, so you have adopted emotional patterns common to the children of addicts and have gravitated toward men who treat you the way your father has treated you. You have consistently put yourself in situations where you met the wrong kind of guy every time. You don’t listen to loved ones when they say to you, “This guy has control issues,” or “Does he drink that much all the time?” You stay with him even when he’s abusive, to the point that you are too attached to leave him before he dumps you.
And so on. If this is not your scenario, then you know what your scenario is. We fall into deep patterns of coping and interacting, and some of them are not good for us. However, they are familiar and we’ve gotten good at them. But we are not free; we are trapped in ways of thinking and behaving. We cannot become free until we stand toe-to-toe with the truth. It’s painful and irritating and depressing to do that, but we must do it before anything will change.
Sometimes, prayer becomes our means for facing the truth. It becomes a sacred space in which we can say anything we need to say; we can cry or storm around or collapse in defeat. We can do all of that because divine love transcends everything else. It may be days or months or years before we begin to detect that love, but it is there all the same. It absorbs all our truth—our glorious truth and our ugliest truth. This makes it possible for healing and progress to begin again.
- Where is the unfreedom in your life? Can you describe it to yourself? Can you hear it described by someone who loves you?
- How can you lay out the truth about your unfreedom this very day or week? Can you come up with a simple plan for putting it into words or images?