June 8, 2009

After a serious outburst of anger last Christmas, I decided to see a counselor. Though I felt (and still feel) the anger itself was justifiable, the wild, edge-of-insane intensity of it scared me. 

In the beginning, I left each session feeling like I’d gone through a blender. There was a lot of picking scabs off forgotten wounds. They would hurt and bleed almost as much as they had when they’d first been inflicted. I’d walk out of the office and cry in my car. Eventually I just went ahead and cried in the office, where I had ready access to tissue. Either way, I’d spend a day or two afterwards, reliving and rehashing, and thinking none of this could be healthy. Uncovering the pain seemed to be making things worse, not better.

Soon I began to connect the dots between traumatic events. The recurring theme in my life was rejection; as the theme recycled itself in all my significant relationships, a pattern of thoughts and resulting behaviors emerged.

Eventually I began to see what was hidden behind all my feelings and all my actions. My counselor would ask what I thought or believed about a situation, and I’d answer honestly. But the honest answers coming out of my mouth were not the beliefs I publicly profess. They were secret beliefs I’d never acknowledged–not openly, and often not even consciously. It turns out those hidden beliefs rule me.

It’s strange how suddenly and unexpectedly so much became so clear. Among the realizations was that I’ve never had a healthy, loving relationship. I used to trust; not anymore. I’ve never experienced fidelity. I’ve never known acceptance without contingency. I’m surprisingly, vehemently angry about it. That anger has been smoldering beneath the surface so long that it was just part of me, like my limbs or my brown skin. Except that sometimes it would flare up and surprise me.

So how could my life so far have prepared me for the God who is supposed to be a loving father, husband and friend? One who accepts me as I am and loves me with no strings attached? One who won’t hurt me or use me, or ignore me until I go away?

I don’t believe it.

I love God so much! But I don’t entirely trust him. And how can he love me when I feel this way? I don’t know how to hope or anticipate or believe my life can be anything but what it’s always been.

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