When I was in second grade, I was stricken with a sickness that required one week in the hospital followed by another week spent at home recovering. I don’t remember much about that time. I played board games with the nurses. Yahtzee, I think. There was a nasty red liquid they made me drink. When I whined, my dad made me a deal, “Let’s color and each time you change crayons, take one drink.” I’m pretty sure I was outsmarted, but nonetheless, it worked.
Once home I distinctly remember seeing a pink elephant sitting on my dad’s head. A few nights later I saw a large, white, somehow non-scary snake under my covers. Were these things real? No, but 40 years later I can still see them in my mind’s eye.
It’s funny the things we remember.
Like my fevered hallucinations, our remembrance of events in life can be greatly skewed by distorted truth. Our memories are burned into us and become a part of our being, making it hard to distinguish the authentic from the distorted. We base perceptions on the way we felt about or how we were treated during a circumstance much more than the actual occurrence, and gnarled emotions make our efforts to move on especially difficult.
When we face any upheaval in our soul, it’s important that we move forward from said event in truth. How do we do that? First and foremost, we discard the natural in favor of the supernatural. We get our truth from the source of truth — God.
Before the fall in the garden, Adam and Eve walked with God. He was their source for everything. After the fall, the curse that came upon mankind was not limited to the physical (sickness, death, etc.), but included the emotional as well (fear, shame, discontentment, rage). We were never meant to be plagued with emotional havoc. We were meant to walk in the peace of trusting God. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, redeemed us from the curse and restored us back to the place God intended.
Sin, hell and the grave are defeated. Sickness, disease and addictions are defeated. Don’t you think that your anxiety and fear are defeated as well? Is your anger more powerful than the blood of Jesus that crushes darkness and sets captives free?
What is more real in your life, the things you feel and experience, or the work Christ has done in you and for you?
When we boil this down to its core, we find it’s an issue of trust. Do we trust what we feel more than the blood of Christ? Why do we let that which is defeated have a place of such power in our lives? We schlepp through the mess with a distorted sense of truth seen through fevered hallucinations of disbelief, doubt and uncertainty. When we don’t trust God, but instead allow our emotions to have overbearing control, we are living under a curse He never intended. A curse that, in fact, has been vanquished and has zero authority over us unless we grant it.
Paul said in Galatians 2:20,
I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (TLB)
And in Romans 6:11,
So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. (NLT)
He stated further in verse 16,
Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. (NLT)
This means I am free from myself to truly be myself. It means I can visit the ever-shifting sands of emotional upheaval, but I don’t have to live there. It means that whatever state of disruption my mind finds itself in, I can lean into God, trust Him and rest.
The disciples knew exactly how suffering felt. They watched Christ die. I can’t imagine. I’m sure many years later, they could still feel the anguish of the crucifixion. That was reality. But the truth that carried them through the remainder of their lives and ministries was His resurrection.
I’m not diminishing anything you’ve experienced. I get it. I know how it feels to go through trauma. I also know what it does to a soul to hear truth from God about that trauma, melt into Him and let Him walk me through to an outcome He designed.
Yes, the memories are still there, but I see things now through His truth, not my pain. I may not be able to un-see the bad, but I also cannot un-see the amazing.
The difference is … well, the difference is beyond words.