Tuesday, February 28, 2012

CP 165 What doesn't kill you...

CP 165 What doesn't kill you...

I have a young (Dutch!) friend who seems to be a magnet for funny / clever sayings. Here’s the first one he ever told me. “You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose!” The second one he deigned to share with me is a ripper. “You can always tell a Dutchman, but you can’t tell him much.”

Proverbs and colloquial sayings can be witty and wise and sometimes you and I can live by the truth they carry. However there are some sayings, in common use, which are not only unhelpful, but straight out untrue and therefore the lie they proclaim is destructive of soul and spirit. I want to highlight just two in this blog.

The first is straight from the schoolyard. You no doubt know it well. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” The insecure little boy called ‘Freddy’, who lives inside me, has always known it wasn’t true. The part of me which has been ‘Pastor Fred’ for the last 33 years confirms that reality. Having sat with countless people as they revisited their deep pain it has always been about words, spoken or unspoken. The deepest and most persistent pain of all has always had to do with being ‘named’ in some way. Try ‘loser’ or ‘dumb’. Perhaps ‘slut’ or ‘poof’. Maybe ‘gutless’ or ‘wimp’. Or, ‘You’ll-never-amount-to-anything’, ‘not-as-clever’ and stupid idiot’. Each name carries rejection, and broken hearts and crippled spirits are always linked to rejection.

In a 4-Corner’s program last night women as old as 80, whose babies were forcibly adopted when they were unmarried teens, wept as they recalled how they were named as ‘shameful, bad, selfish and unworthy’ all those years ago. Some had clearly never recovered. Their personal agony and unrelenting grief was etched in their faces and written all over their body-language. Every one of those women would have chosen broken bones ahead of the loss, not only of their sons/daughters but also of their lives, their personhood and their meaning.

Lies kill! Only truth gives life. I can only pray that the wounded are found by the truth which sets free.

The second saying, recently trendy, is this: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It may be a great line in a movie, or some popular hero’s stirring account of recovery from adversity. But many people do not recover or ‘get over it’. Try telling it to women who were raped and denied justice. Or the elderly whose homes have been burgled. Try telling that ‘proverb’ to still-traumatised Vietnam Vets, let alone the wives and children. Try saying it to those permanently debilitated by strokes and heart attacks, or their families and carers. Or those betrayed in their marriages.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” In the macho world of high-intensity ‘positive thinkers’ there are no doubt some for whom it has panned out that way. For those who live in my world of the wounded, crippled and broken, it is simply pious, triumphalist, new-age rubbish.

Finding healing and a future will never begin by believing a lie. It can only begin by acknowledging the truth of the brokenness. The admission of ‘inability’ allows us to tap into the true source of healing and recovery. Jesus Christ declared, “Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28) He declared, in the face of the self-help saviours, “Come to me all who are thirsty…” (John 7:37) Paul the Apostle wrote, “…when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12: 10) Just before that phrase he had written, “…my power is made perfect in weakness.” (verse 9)

Comfort one another with these words…

Have a good week.



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