We had some friends that we really care about over for dinner last week. Both are amazingly gifted in discernment and counsel. So, while we didn’t want to cause them to shift into “ministry mode,” it was difficult not to let them speak into the massive messiness that it our life right now. During that conversation, the husband asked what my husband’s leadership looked like, and how he was making decisions. I burst in and said something like, “he’s just sick of my nagging.”
My husband was pretty upset about this, for many reasons. But the biggest one was that it wasn’t true. He reminded me (later) of how submissive and gentle I had been in the past year. He also reminded me that this behavior, this self-condemnation, is common for me. I put myself down and then reel in the hurt that eventually becomes character attacks against me.
Don’t give them ammo! He said. (Them being people that would belittle me, not our dear friends.)
Reflecting on that statement is really helpful.
If you are a self-condemner, I invite you to reflect on it with me. Why do we give them ammo? It’s dishonest, it’s unhelpful, and it’s unhealthy. I think we view it as a safe way of expressing emotion. Namely, we think that if we just take full and utter responsibility then they’ll just stop judging us. It never happens. It’s not even reasonable to think it would happen.
I’m challenged by the words in Isaiah 54:17. God says: “But in that coming day, no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD; their vindication will come from me. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
While I never want to silence conviction or a wound from a friend calling out my sin, I wonder if there’s some of us that wouldn’t benefit from learning the words “SHUT UP” when it comes to our accusers, and to our biggest accuser, ourselves.
Self-condemnation blocks one of God’s greatest gifts: grace. In condemning ourselves, we’re pleading for mercy from other people…but they can’t offer it. The only one that can offer it is God, who offers us something so much more than an opportunity to say “I suck.”
Persisting in self condemnation blocks us from the conviction of His Love….the loving kindness that leads to repentance. To a hope to be different. Or even to accept that He really has changed us. Freedom from that past that haunts us so diligently.
I don’t know about you, but I’d like to shut down the armory of my accusers. Pray for me to shut my mouth when tempted to give them ammo. I’ll pray for you too.