Fundamentally Detached from Life)
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
At the end of yesterday’s post I made the case that when addicts deny or avoid the harm that we have done we are living a life that is divorced from the truth. Sweeping bad news under the rug does not change the underlying reality one bit, but it does detach ourselves from reality. And then trying to live a meaningful, purposeful life while keeping a blind eye to our sins is a vain endeavor. If you want your life to flourish, you have to align yourself with the truth of that life, both the good and the bad. This is just one of those fundamental truths, so basic and atomic that it defies explanation.
Confession, at its core, is therefore all about aligning ourselves to that truth. It brings our secret deeds into the light, acknowledging our problems as they really are, creating an image of ourselves that is harmonious with reality. Even though that reality is one that we are ashamed of, accepting it makes our world more right and whole even so. Everyone, perpetrator and victim alike, need to reconnect themselves to this truth if they ever want to really live again.
Because yes, this step of fully embracing the truth is a requirement for victim and perpetrator alike. Today and tomorrow we will be considering the ways that the perpetrator hides from the truth, and afterwards we will look at how the victim does as well.
Why the Perpetrator Hides)
The fact that the perpetrator tends to run from his crimes should be something we can all agree on. Each of us has seen many others, publicly and privately, who staunchly deny the reality of their moral perversions. We think it is cowardly of them to not face their well-deserved judgment, particularly when we are among those that they have harmed. Yet even as we recognize this behavior in others, we struggle to see how it is true for ourselves as well. We all have our blind spots, whether willful or ignorant. We know it isn’t right for anyone else to makes excuses for their behavior, but when it comes to us, of course, all of our excuses are totally valid!
Why do we live in this denial? Why do we overlook our obvious hypocrisy?
Well, for one we probably want to avoid punishment from others. We also don’t want to lose the things we have. Depending on the nature of our addiction, we might even be afraid of legal repercussions! But aside from any of those reasons, there is another and more immediate cause for our self-deception. We simply don’t want to face our dark reality, because doing so brings up some hard questions that we don’t want to answer. Questions like:
- What does your hurtful behavior say about you?
- What sort of person does bad things?
- What do you deserve for what you have done?
In our minds, we have two clearly-divided groupings of people: those that are good and those that are bad, and the first person that all of us sort into the good camp is our own self. It is the natural instinct of all of us to see ourselves as being the prototype for all that is right and good in the world. We might admit to some flaws, but we immediately follow that up with affirmations that our heart is really in the right place, that we are genuinely trying to do our best, that our good clearly outweighs our bad, that our situation is complicated, and that we’re nothing like all those other truly bad people!
But why then did you hurt someone that you loved?
Any time you bring the introspection back to this sort of targeted, direct question, you’ll catch yourself writhing and wriggling to escape! It’s like seeing a cave-dwelling creature scurrying to get out of the light! We writhe and we wriggle because deep down, one of the most fundamental fears that we all have is that we’re actually not one of the good people. We all dread the possibility that we’ve been the villain, not the hero, all along. Stating that we have so much as a doubt about the state of our soul feels like it is going to kill us. We would rather tell a thousand lies and curse everything that we touch than to say, “I have done serious wrong for which there is no excuse. I have hurt the people I love. I am deserving of death and hell.”
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; -Romans 3:23
For the wages of sin is death -Romans 6:23
These are difficult verses to apply to ourselves, but they really are the truth. Accepting this truth feels like it will break us, but, paradoxically, this truth is the key to our rebirth. As we are told elsewhere in the bible:
The truth shall make you free. -John 8:32
This promise really is true, impossible as it may seem. Later in this series we will see why.