Recently, I was sitting in my living room, in the afternoon of a raw, wet and windy October day, thinking over my life. I imagine that everyone does this from time to time, but few do it with brutal honesty, as the harshest, most pitiless critic is the mirror of self-reflection. How many times do people say that they cannot remember what happened 24 hours ago, yet I found myself all to easily remembering, in the white light of cruel and startling detail, events going back many years.
I like to think that my childhood and adolescent years were very Norman Rockwell-like: after all, those years spanned the decades of the 1950s and 1960s, a time when life was, mostly, simpler. Like many other of the people I grew up with, I came from a home with a Dad and a Mom present for, and involved in, my life, and I had pretty nearly everything that a kid could ask for. All in all, it was the ‘God and country, home and hearth, white picket fence’ experience that people today are experiencing less and less. What wasn’t there to like?
My journey back over the years revealed things I did not enjoy remembering.
I remembered that on many occasions, I had harsh, rather than gentle, words for people. I often acted impulsively, without careful thought given to possible consequences. I cursed, smoked, drank, was prejudiced and used people indiscriminately. I lived for myself and no one else: my goals alone mattered, and I was a selfish, immature and petty person into the bargain.
One of the things that frightens me, in looking back over my life during those years, is that I never once gave a serious thought to how I was living, or to the kind of person that I was. Regret was not a word that I knew the true meaning of.
I was… broken.
For the years of my youth and adolescence, there was little to nothing in the way of serious consequence, but as I began to have to make my way in the world, I discovered rapidly that the payments for my behaviors and personality were relentlessly coming due: and for a very long time, life was a minefield that was proving to be very difficult to navigate safely through; there was a lot of emotional and psychological damage that took many years to heal, and that caused a lot of grief and sorrow for myself and also for people that I was in relationships with.
At time of this writing, I am restored: many will say that with age (I am almost 65) comes wisdom, and therefore also comes ability to recognize and work through issues. That is a secular explanation and, in my mind, is too “pat” and “cookie-cutter”… worldly wisdom is not the ‘be all and end all’ that everyone likes to think it is. However, there is a wisdom that does work (italic emphasis mine):
For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. (Proverbs 2:6-8)
Godly wisdom gives even more benefits (italic emphases mine):
For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways. (Proverbs 2:10-15)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers. (Proverbs 19:8)
Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 24:14)
What we see when we seek Godly wisdom is that something extraordinary happens (italic emphasis mine):
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. (Ecclesiastes 1:18)
If you are broken, for the only healing that will last, it is necessary to:
1) Confess your brokenness (your sins and rebellious will) to God.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)
2) Have godly sorrow for what you are before God (a sinner, a breaker of God’s laws and commandments) and for your sins (your willful, rebellious actions against God).
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
3) Repent (turn away from) your sin, and trust in God to do what only He can do… to go far beyond fixing your brokenness to restoring you, because God knows what He wants to do with you.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Let go… and let God.