Bring Your Worst Fears to Reality and be Free: Part Two

The Conflicted Soul)

In my last post I examined the reason why the addict doesn’t dare admit his secret shame, which is that doing so might jeopardize all the things he feels he cannot lose. His family, his job, his church, maybe even his ability to live outside of prison, he cannot stand to give up any of these things, and so he will accept a pretend life instead.

The addict tells himself that he doesn’t need to choose between confession and living a cursed life, he assures himself that he will overcome this behavior on his own. No one will need to know about it, and he’ll still figure it out. But year after year passes and he still hasn’t made the change, and through all the years his conscience keeps bringing to his mind that he really must confess.

So, which is he to listen to? The calculating, rationalizing brain that assures him healthy living is nothing more than mind over matter? Or the aching, broken heart that insists that somehow, someway, confession is the only road to healing?

Well, if he is content to have his life continue just the same as it has always been, then he can continue to listen to the same rationalizations that he always has, but if he ever wants to have a different outcome than every time before, then he must be willing to take a step that he has never dared before. At some point he has to make the leap from his head to his heart. He must accept the possibility of losing all the things he holds most dear as the price for his salvation.

Two Encouragements)

To the soul that is on the cusp of throwing in with the heart and making confession, may I offer two reassurances. The first is that the things you fear most may not actually occur. Our nature is to think up absolute worst-case scenarios, to assume that every turn that can go wrong will go wrong. Negative outcomes that seem a certainty, in truth are usually only possibilities.

Of course, I cannot promise you that every worst fear in your head won’t come true. Even if the most severe repercussions have only a small likelihood of coming true, one should accept that it might still be possible. That being said, I can tell you that I still have never met the addict who had things go even remotely as bad as they had anticipated. Certainly, there have been choppy waters and losses, but never the total capsizing that most of us envision.

The other reassurance is that even if the losses are dire, even if every bad thing in your imagination did come true, there will be interwoven with it a peaceful contentment that you probably have not accounted for. You will have a peaceful contentment that soothes every loss and pain so that they are never as terrible as you had imagined.

That contentment comes from the fact that now, for the first time in who knows how many years, you are your real self again. I cannot overstate just how much of a relief you feel when you bring forward the truth and are finally back to being your own self. You feel a way that you had forgotten you could feel like. It is like getting out of a bath and putting on fresh clothes. You feel warm and comfortable and clean and safe. You feel reassured that whatever comes, it will be alright, because you have you again, and that more than makes up for whatever else you have no longer.

I promise you that you will find greater joy being yourself in a miserable place than to be a fraud in comfortable surroundings.

And this is not all. The very things you fear to lose by telling the truth you probably don’t even have anymore, anyway. I will examine that concept more in my next post, but for now I’ll simply say that you truly have little to nothing to actually lose, but you do have everything to gain. See what the analyzing, calculating mind makes of that arithmetic!

Bring Your Worst Fears to Reality and be Free: Part One

The Reasons to Lie)

The addict is a curious creature, utterly appalled at his inexcusable behavior, yet also in complete denial about it. Before acting out he minimizes the severity of the deed, reassuring himself that just this once won’t make a difference and he can quit whenever he wants. Immediately afterwards he experiences terrible self-loathing, promising himself that he will never do it again.

Now and again, during those shameful after-effects where he most strongly wishes to be free of his vice, the thought might occur to him that he needs to tell someone what is going on. If he is married, he might feel that he needs to tell his wife. If he is religious, he might feel that he needs to confess to a leader. If he has broken laws, he might feel that he needs to turn himself in to the police. If none of the above, there is still confession to those that have been hurt, professional therapists, or close friends. There is always someone that the addict could turn to…if they had the courage.

And it is this matter of courage where the addict struggles. For no sooner does the thought to confess rise up then it is forced right back down. He might fight the urge down through minimizing:

“Oh I don’t need to do anything as drastic as that! I just need to really try my best and I’ll be able to take care of it.”

Or he might come up with some reason why he can’t:

“I would tell my wife the truth…but it would break her. I just can’t put her through that pain, she doesn’t deserve it.”

Or, if he’s being more honest, he just isn’t willing to face the fear:

“If I tell, I’ll lose everyone and everything. I can’t lose my marriage. I can’t lose my kids. I can’t lose my church. I can’t lose my job. I can’t and won’t do it.”

The Mind’s Fear, the Heart’s Hope)

This fear is the real reason why the addict doesn’t confess. If he could have solved it on his own, he would have done it by now, and he doesn’t protect anyone but himself by living under a false image. The only reason that stands up to scrutiny is that he isn’t willing to lose the things that he has.

Is that selfish? Yes, but it is also human nature. We are terrified of losing our surrounding structure and that’s not always a bad thing. A healthy dose of fear keeps us from doing things that jeopardize our lives and well-being. The problem is that the addict’s fear is keeping him in a behavior that is destroying all the things that he doesn’t want to lose anyway.

He isn’t present at work, he isn’t working on his faith, and he isn’t faithful in his marriage. The things he is afraid of losing he is slowly gutting of their original virtue until they become an unfulfilling career, a hollow faith, and a sham marriage. So, in his self-interest, he is ironically destroying his own self-interest.

Thus, when it comes to hiding one’s addiction, we can immediately comprehend its root. The desire to hide comes from within the addict. It comes from the fear of losing himself. But now contrast this with the recurring notion that keeps returning to the addict that he should confess. Where on earth does that thought come from?

If hiding is about self-preservation, exposing is suicidal! As we have shown, excessive self-preservation can erode what the addict already has, but exposing his secrets seems that it will surely blow it all away! What possible reason would an addict’s mind have to conjure up an idea that is so against himself?

And the answer is: none. Because it isn’t about intellectual reasons. Any addict who appraises the idea of confession will realize that it did not come with a reason, it came with a feeling. The idea did not come from their analyzing, rationalizing, efficiency-focused brain, it came from the heart. Might it destroy the addict? Yes, that is a distinct possibility. But it just feels right even so. It feels like it might be just the thing to save the aching soul. Why? The addict might not have any idea why, but it just feels true in their heart.

Thus, hiding is to preserve yourself, but confession is to save yourself.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 44:30-31

30 Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad’s life;

31 It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave.

Jacob hasn’t been the central focus of the biblical narrative for a while, but I wish we had more insight into his heart at this time. Specifically, I would like to know more of his thoughts around the area of his life that has long been marred by loss.

When Jacob ran away from home to escape the wrath of Esau, he found solace in Rachel, the love of his life, and gradually built up a great family around him. But then tragedy struck as Rachel died in childbirth. Jacob was still left with her sons, Joseph and Benjamin, but, of course, Joseph was taken and sold into Egypt by his half-brothers. And now Judah believes that Jacob is on the cusp of losing his Benjamin as well.

In short, the Rachel-branch of the family has been both the source of Jacob’s greatest joy and greatest sadness in life. Inherent in the having is also the losing. It is the curse of mortal existence. With every joy we possess comes the fear of losing it…and the eventual realization of that fear.

But, as we will see at the end of this story, after the loss of happiness, even by death, there can be restitution.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 42:36-38

36 And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.

37 And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.

38 And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.

It seems that Reuben was in favor of immediately returning to Egypt, proving that their youngest brother existed, and getting Simeon out of bondage. But this was a risk too great for Jacob. He had lost one son, and now a second, and he would rather cut his losses here than risk losing a third!

Reuben still contends the matter, though. Simeon is Reuben’s blood brother, both being the sons of Leah. Simeon was also the very next son born after Reuben, the nearest to him of all his brethren. Thus, of all his brothers, Simeon might be the one that Reuben has the most motivation to get free.

Perhaps the brothers had evil intentions towards Joseph in the past, but Reuben makes it clear that he harbors no such ill will for Benjamin. He is willing to put his own sons on the line, committing them to death if he doesn’t keep his promise and bring Benjamin back safe and sound! With such an oath we can be sure he truly intended to let no harm come to the boy.

And in Reuben’s oath there seems to be a messianic representation. A father is willing to put the life of his own son on the line in order to save another child. It is a moving offer, yet it is not enough to sway Jacob. For even if Reuben’s heart is in the right place, and he will not personally cause harm to Benjamin, he cannot claim to have power over all the other factors in the world. He could really try his best to preserve his younger brother, but mischief might still “befall him by the way.”

Influence and Persuasion- 1 Kings 12:13-14, 16

And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him;
And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.


And the king answered the people roughly, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
I finished my previous post by mentioning that Satan’s methods of influence are designed around getting immediate results. Fear and intimidation are powerful motivators, ones which cause people to do what is wanted in the moment. No doubt this was Rehoboam’s desire when he spoke so roughly to the Israelites and promised a harsh hand as their ruler.
And he is far from the only tyrant that has been willing to employ these methods. I am sure that each of us can recall times that these same methods have been used on us, forcing us to bend to another’s will. I am sure that we can also recall times that we used these methods ourselves at the expense of another.
The temptation to use fear and intimidation is powerful because they really can be effective at getting what we want for ourselves in the moment.

The people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David.
But those “in the moment” results come at a great cost. So long as the will of another is bent to your own they will hate you, and in return for their momentary obedience you sow their eventual rebellion. Rehoboam saw this firsthand.
I am reminded of an experience I had with a mother on my mission. She explained to me that she knew the church spoke against beating one’s children, but she was seeing much better results ever since she had resumed the practice. I can absolutely believe that her children fell in line for the moment, but long-term she was sowing hatred in the hearts that should love her best.
So many of us are willfully selling the love and loyalty of those we care for, simply because we have to have something right now.

Count Your Blessings- Genesis 37:34-35; Job 3:1-4; John 11:33, 35

And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.
And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.

After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.
And Job spake, and said,
Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.
Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it.

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
Jesus wept.


And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted
Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it
He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, Jesus wept.
Thus far we have discussed why it is important for us to remember our blessings, even when journeying through difficult trials. And while this is all true, I do not mean to be callous and suggest that there is not a time for mourning when we have suffered a loss.
After Jacob lost his son Joseph he refused to be comforted, and wept for the good thing that had seemingly been taken away. Job, too, went through a long mourning process after he lost all that he held dear. Even Jesus paused to weep when he heard of the death of his friend Lazarus.
Thus, when we also suffer a tragic loss it is perfectly appropriate for us to be devastated. Perhaps it is momentarily too painful to count one’s blessings, as that might feel like trying to sweep the pain underneath a rug. God does not ask us to say that the hurt does not matter, when it very much does. It is okay to be broken for a time.
But it is important that it is “for a time” and not “forever.” Eventually Jacob did take comfort in the family which remained to him, particularly his new son Benjamin. Job eventually turned from his bitterness and reached for God once more. Jesus dried his eyes and got back to doing his work of miracles. And we too must eventually accept God’s comfort, remember the blessings which we still have, and permit Him to live in us once more.

The Nature of Sacrifice- Question

Some things in the gospel are very easy to talk about with others: grace, love, forgiveness, and peace for example. But other things are more difficult to broach, such as the element of sacrifice. Sacrifice, by its nature, means a painful experience. Indeed if there is no pain involved, then it isn’t really a sacrifice.

Yet discussing sacrifice is not only difficult because of the pain associated with it, but also because of the sweetness. Many people testify that their most sacred moments have come directly from their sacrifices. Indeed, both words have at their root the Latin term sacer, which means holy. Sometimes these moments are too private to share, and those that experience them can only encourage others to find their own.

But why is sacrifice such an integral part of the gospel? And why is pain essential to perfection? I would like to explore these questions and others with my new study, taking into consideration the root of all sacrifice: that of the Jesus Christ to redeem mankind.

In the meantime, I would love to hear about your own experiences with sacrifice. How have you known what you should sacrifice and what you should hold to? What were the effects of your surrendering? What did you receive in return for your loss?