WORDS FROM W.W. August 20, 2016
There was a situation recently that took a bad turn for a friend of mine. Even though he was not responsible for the outcome his immediate reaction was to take the blame and question his value as a person. Even though the root of the problem was planted in the bad decisions and words of others he still felt guilty.
I felt bad for him. The next time I see him I’ll make it a point to tell him what an incredible person he is. Perhaps if I, and others, tell him that enough times the scales that seem to tip so easily to the side that gets “down on himself” will be balanced. The thing is…this person is a caring, compassionate individual who will do anything to help someone else.
I have had long stretches in my life where I tried to carry the weight of the world. If there was a conflict in the church I pastored there were many times that I assumed the responsibility or, bore the guilt even though I was not the culprit or instigator. Mind you, sometimes I was the culprit, but my ability to differentiate between being the cause and not being the cause was limited.
It is difficult for many of us to not bear the blame. We often throw around that saying that we live in a wounded world, but what we detour around is the fact that each one of us is wounded. One of the side effects of being wounded is to carry the blame. Another of the side effects surfaces in some wounded folk who willingly make someone else the source of the problem. Not assuming any responsibility is the scar of their woundedness.
Guilt-carriers and guilt-givers…we’re all cut from the same mold.
One of the things I love about writing is that I can think through a snappy response that will put the attacking person in their place. If only real life was like that! But it isn’t! Too often the verbal accusations are thrown in my direction and I catch it like a sure-handed tight end, but then fall to my knees in misery and self-flagellation of my spirit.
I’ve preached numerous sermons and talked to even more people about the fact that Jesus took our sins upon himself when he went to the cross. I’ve recited those words from Isaiah 53:5-6 countless times:
“But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
But sometimes even the messenger surrenders to the voices and retreats back into that place of doubt, and picks up the weight of the world once again. It is part of who we were, and it is part of the lie that we keep believing over and over again.
We treat the redemption of Jesus like a home mortgage; one that won’t get paid off for thirty years or more…so we keep thinking we have to make the monthly payments.
One of the most powerful scenes I’ve experienced in any movie came in the film entitled The Mission. Robert DeNiro was cast as one of the main characters, a man who bore the guilt of killing his brother in a dispute. A Catholic priest who has set up a mission to one of the primitive tribes in one of the mountain areas of South America has him join him at the mission. To get there they must climb up part of the mountain beside a waterfall. DeNiro has a net tied to him that is carrying the weight of various possessions in it. He won’t let anyone else help him. He must carry the weight. The scene is painful to watch as he slowly climbs the mountain. There are more elements to the story that I won’t go into, but at the top of the mountain one of the men of the tribe takes a knife and cuts the rope away from DeNiro and tosses it over the side of the waterfall. The implications are clear. The weight-carrier has been freed. It’s the beginning of healing for a tormented soul.
I think of that scene often as I’m about to bend over and pick up the weight of a situation. When someone throws the blame in my direction I’m getting somewhat better in remembering that I’m not the sure-handed football tight end but rather one position over, offensive tackle- an ineligible receiver! I don’t need to catch everything that is thrown in my direction!