For the sting of guilt, He’s got the cure

Categorized as Rhonda's Posts

It was a single verse. In the quiet of this day in early spring, I’m skimming along on my way to a different reference when my eyes graze it. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” It’s John, apostle beloved, and like that, the old, familiar prick…

I was raised in a conservative, legalistic culture. Growing up in a small community, rules and regulations were a way of life. Taught before one’s teeth had come in, the expectations for one’s conduct, lifestyle and, basically, one’s Christian walk, were printed in ink, black on white. And passed down.

As the oldest in my family, I was the classic, compliant firstborn. I was a pleaser–I needed to be a pleaser. Had to keep people happy, had to earn my approval (or assurance of my value), and I had to make sure I wasn’t sinning. What a weight! To say my conscience was sensitive would be a gross misstatement.

Growing up, feelings were–difficult. They were messy and frightening and uncomfortable and suspect. This is not an accusation. It’s just how things were, and there are surely many reasons (and many ancient woundings) behind it all.

At any rate, the emphasis on performance, the mishandling of feelings, an oversensitive conscience and a desperate need to always and ever “get it right” spelled a certain kind of death to a girl who was a veritable volcano of feelings and needs. (I will insert here that our current pastor once told me that I could have been born to a rancher in Texas, and I would likely have had a sensitive conscience. So certainly, a component of the whole, toxic stew may have been part of my ‘packaging,’ for lack of a better word.)

What happened, then, was that I mistakenly trusted my feelings to determine the truth. If I felt good about my performance, then maybe I had some favor with God. If I felt terrible about something I’d done or imagined I’d done, then surely God felt the same way. If I had certain “right” feelings (whatever those were) about someone or something, then my attitude was okay, and I was in the clear.

It’s a rotten way to live, I can tell you.

Many, many years later, now, I’ve been learning the truth–truth about who God really is, the truth about who I really am and the unconditional, unchanging nature of His love. Words Girl that I am, I can hardly explain my delight and my gratitude.

But now, back to what happened the other day. I see the verse, it sparks the old guilt, so I lace up my sneakers and hit the road. And I lay it all out for my Dad.

“Papa,” I say, feeling my need for a Father’s wisdom, “here’s what happened. I saw that verse, I thought of (and here came names, scrolled faces) and I’m feeling that old, crippling guilt. You know what all’s happened. You know how I feel.”

In my mind’s eye, He’s sitting behind a table, and I’m laying all of the pieces in front of Him. “Please look through all of it and tell me what You see. I want to know.”

And like that, He speaks, my kind and gentle Dad, two words: “Scar tissue.”

After years of typing medical reports, I know. Know just what He means. Wounding, surgery, scarring…

“Scar tissue. You’re not guilty for having scar tissue. It’s what your body builds over a wound. The deeper the wound, the thicker the tissue. It’s a matter of survival. You had to.”

Such love, and there’s no condemnation. And Papa’s teaching. “You have the thickest scar tissue over the deepest wounds. There’s no sensation there.” And I’m hearing my orthopedic surgeon, dictating reports.

“You’re not guilty,” He says it again, “for having scar tissue. Where the guilt could come in is if you want to keep it, if you don’t want to let me work on it. It’s My love, see? My love that will soften.”

Scuff, scuff, scuff. In the crisp morning air, I’m seeing a snapshot. It’s an arm that’s undergone surgery. The scar, it’s contracted, inhibiting movement and flexion, thick tissue deforming the skin.

“My love applied, that’s what will bring healing.”

“Plan.” It’s the dictating physician in a state far away. “The patient will begin gentle range of motion exercises, use vitamin E or cocoa butter and massage it into the scar, and follow up at her regularly scheduled appointment.”

Cocoa butter (His love). Range of motion (I take in His love and give it back out). Regular followups (I sit at His feet, breathe Him in).

The One Who diagnosed my own condition has healing and a cure for you, too. Slip into His office, show Him your wounds and allow Him to apply healing salve.

You can.

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