Thursday, March 6, 2014

My Remembrall

Subtitled: Thursday Thoughts, A Lenten Discipline

Denial.

Everyone is familiar with the term.  Nobody really thinks they are guilty of it themselves.

Ironic, yes?

Yesterday, Ash Wednesday, I posted a blog about the season of Lent as a time of remembering.  I mentioned a few passages that described what happened when the people of God forgot - forgot who they were, who they'd been, what God had done for them, and the covenant they made with [him].

It may seem inane: How does one forget who one is, exactly???

Well, it's called denial.  

There is a giant banner in a local business that asks, 

"What are you pretending not to know?"


Next to it is another that proclaims, 


"You cannot fix that which you do not admit exists."   


Do you ever ... pretend?  Like, has a family member, standing in the kitchen, ever asked you to take the garbage out and you, standing nearby in the dining room, pretend you didn't hear? 

This seems like a pretty harmless habit.  But pretending something didn't happen, ignoring things in an effort to remain ignorant, avoiding uncomfortable feelings or situations - especially when doing so violates you or someone else - acting like something isn't going on, pretending or leading other people to believe you don't think/feel/do what you do, making decisions based on what it might look like to someone else, hiding or misconstruing your real motives or needs, telling only part of the story or only what you think other people want to hear (or don't want to hear), lying, appeasing, tolerating destructive behavior because it's easier than making it stop - these are all ways of forgetting who you are.  They are all aspects of denial, and they will all lead to a variety of woes not entirely different from those experienced by the Israelites in the Old Testament: bondage, displacement, broken trust and relationships, divided loyalties, dysfunction, addiction, infidelity ... the list goes on and on.

Did your family avoid conflict while you were growing up?  Did they refuse to talk about feelings?  Did they act like nothing happened after a screaming match, slammed doors, or even after the police were called?  Did you live with the proverbial elephant in the room, with a family secret? These are all perfect examples of denial, of forgetting, and most of the time we have come to think that this is a normal way to live.

It's rather easier to forget than we'd like to think; we do it all the time.  And it is generally a habit that is rather hard to break, though it produces destructive consequences in life.  When scripture repeats over and over again a call to God's people asking them to "remember the Lord your God", "remember the covenant", or "remember my commandments" we can often dismiss these warnings by thinking about all "those rebellious heathens out there somewhere, intentionally doing all those things that are way worse than what I'm doing - unintentionally." We conveniently forget our foray into pornography last night, our pizza binge, or the way we let someone believe something other than what actually happened because, well, we didn't want it to be awkward, really.

The point is, it's rather easier to forget - to deny - than we'd like to admit.  And it's rather more difficult to remember.

So, how do we go about remembering?  How do we go about recognizing, challenging, and breaking through our denial - the way God's word continuously asks us to do - for our own health and well-being and for the glory of God and the furthering of the kingdom?

Ah, my friends, I'm so glad you asked!  It turns out that this is the very purpose of The 12 Steps!

Did you know that The 12 Steps were originally born of the Oxford Group*, the very religious organization of which John Wesley, founder of Methodism, was a part**?  Did you know that the steps were all born of scripture, and that eventually Christian doctrine was stripped from the steps so that State and Federal Governments could sanction government support of the only program that actually helps people overcome addiction and denial (with something like a crazy 75% success rate!)?***

God led me to practice The 12 Steps as a specific spiritual discipline for remembering - remembering who I am, who I've been, what God has done, and my covenant with [him].  And that is why I want to take the time during this season to share my reflections on recovery and The 12 Steps with you.  Every Thursday I will be posting my "Thursday Thoughts" about recovery - and discussing more fully these principles in other posts as well.  I have yet to find a more fruitful and poignant way to remember, to tell my story, and to tell the story of God.

Yay Lent!

* Serenity:  A Companion for 12 Step Recovery, Thomas Nelson, 1990.
** A Model for Making Disciples, D. Michael Henderson, 2005.
*** Sorry, got this info while doing research for my MA in Counseling and need to find my sources!

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