As the morning Bible study opened this week it was evident that something was different; half the men were not there. There is another group I am involved in which had at least twenty people attending when I first joined them, and it has dwindled down to two, myself and the remaining leader. I had seen this occur on several occasions, as well as when it happened to a group I co-led. I know what the lousy, demonic voice in my head says, “you played a role in their leaving”, but I know that is a lie. If you hear that kind of garbage in your head, then you need to take authority over it in the name of Jesus. If you don’t and allow that voice to rule your life, then you have made a stronghold out of it, given a foothold to the enemy of our souls – Satan, and, presented him with the freedom to torture you in other ways as well.
Long before I got involved in recovery I was hurting, and desperately began reaching out to anyone I thought would listen. Sadly, most turned their backs and walked away. A lady friend, a prophetic woman, stopped me one day and said, “you are drawing these (hurtful) people to you!” I could just picture myself walking around with a sign on my back that says, kick me! No one in their right mind would do that. To be honest, I was furious. Months later I heard God say this in explanation, “Because of agreements you made with the enemy, you have given Satan an open door into your life. And, because he knows your triggers, he is sending these people to you to keep you occupied, defeated, and distracted from what I have called you to do.” I am telling you this because this kind of attack, (and yes, there is depression and anxiety wrapped up in it,) has eaten up far too much of my life.
Another example of how the enemy attacked comes from a time when I was 25, shortly before I got married the first time. Not understanding how co-dependent I was I was not even trying to draw boundaries, nor was I in agreement with how God felt about me and therefore sought to find my identity in a beautiful girl (a classic mistake.) A youth pastor, from the church I grew up in, was leading a Bible study and the woman I was engaged to, went to it once. That man, allowing himself to be used by the devil, said to my future wife, “why are you going to marry that loser?” and said my name. He did this in front of the group because that was a sarcastic pattern with him. Foolishly, my fiance told me. Here is the problem; I allowed that comment to become a stronghold, that then fueled a raging hatred. In my mind, I built a prison and put him in it. I demanded recompense and retribution, things I came to realize he could never pay. I wasted so many years oiling the prison doors and keeping the rust off the bars; and, the only person that suffered because of my demands was me.
That same lady friend again stopped me one day, and said, “You need to forgive these people you hold in your prison, who have hurt you. They can never repay the debt they owe you. And, as long you try to stay in control of your life and surroundings you are playing God, and God will never be a part of that. You have to forgive them!” I had heard my mother use that phrase “forgive them” so many times, but when she said it, it meant be co-dependent and don’t you dare have boundaries. Just keep sticking your face out there and let them slap you. I told my friend, I do not even know what it means to forgive. She responded with the simplest of answers, “You release those people from the debt you think they owe you!”
We all find it easy to say, “I don’t know why it is so hard to (insert the hurtful attitude/habit you do not want to give up here) _______ ?” It’s only hard because you believe you have control, and therefore, go around doing God’s job. In your mind, you bring the constant pain upon them (yeah right). All the while your personal life is like a plane spiraling out of control toward the ground. One of the concepts you learn in Recovery is that you are powerless over persons and things.
By the way, I never did anything to this pastor I mentioned, outside of being friends with a young man that broke a bobble head ornament he purchased. He, like most perpetrators, merely chose me to be one of his victims, the target of what he thought was humorous abuse. Many of you have been subjected to abuses and need to forgive them. Here is what I said that gave me freedom again. “I release you, [insert name here], from any debts I think you owe me. You do not owe me anymore, in the name of Jesus.”
Did they owe me? Not really; in my head I suppose they did, but then we have all been forgiven a sin debt that none of us could pay; And, we were released from the punishment associated with that debt – sin. Consider that.