Monday, June 3, 2013
For the Downtrodden
This is a special message specifically for the downtrodden - for those who have suffered abuse, bullying, or even spiritual attack to the point of accepting guilt that does not belong to them, for things they have not even done. I'm talking about people who have accepted that guilt, not just those who have had it put upon them.
If you cannot relate to that way of being, that mindset of truly undeserved guilt, then this message is not for you and you are not likely to understand it. Any comments that are contrary to this message can be extremely destructive for those who need this message, so please refrain from offering an opposing point of view. The people who need this message know that opposing view all too well and don't need to be reminded of it. Any comments that I deem potentially destructive will be removed.
When I was very young, I had a job in downtown Denver, working in a food court restaurant. One day after work, upon arriving at the bus stop I saw a purse sitting on the sidewalk with no one anywhere around who appeared to be its owner.
My first thought was that if anyone had been watching for long, they could easily claim it as their own, falsely. I didn't want to hand it over to a thief, so I realized I needed to check the ID in the purse. Just as I was looking at the picture on the ID, a woman ran up who matched the picture and said the purse was hers. I said, "Yes, I see it is. I was just checking your ID," I said, pointing to her picture and cocking my head to show I recognized her as I handed her the purse.
"OH, you're an ANGEL from GOD," she exclaimed excitedly. "THANK you, thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK you! You saved my LIFE! I could just KISS you! Thank you! You have no idea how much this means to me!" she gushed.
"You're welcome," I said, at a loss for words.
A moment later a bus arrived at our stop and we boarded it together. It was crowded and we were unable to sit together. She sat in the front and I found a spot about half-way through the middle of the bus.
About ten minutes or so before I reached my destination, she reached hers. Before exiting the bus, she marched purposefully over to me. I felt like I was on a stage as eyes all around followed hers to see who she was approaching. I wanted to be discreet if she offered me a reward and I began to argue with myself inwardly about whether or not I should accept it.
She stopped in front of me. "You took my money!" she barked.
My face lit up in bright neon red. The heat of the sudden flushing in my face made my eyes water as her eyes - so kind and thankful moments ago - now spat this shocking venom at me.
"No, I didn't..."
She punched a finger into my face and shook it. "My money was in there and now it's gone, and I know you took it, and I'm going to get it back from you!"
Then she turned and marched triumphantly off the bus.
I sat shaking my head and shrugging my shoulders at the countless pairs of eyes that searched my face for signs of guilt. How does an innocent person behave? I wondered whether I was doing it right and whether I had somehow betrayed myself to appear guilty in front of so many spectators.
I finally made it home and tried to shake off the horror and the embarrassment of such a strange accusation. Why would I rifle through a purse for money, in public, where everyone could see me, anyway? I could have fit her whole purse in my bag. All I would have had to do was drop it in there and take the money out when I got home, if I'd wanted to steal.
But I had never stolen money from anyone in my life. I had stolen some liquor from a house when I was a teenager, and once, I allowed someone else to drop a pottery mug into my bag, but I had never even attempted shoplifting, myself. It was just too scary to me. Stealing money from a purse was just not my style.
The next morning when I got to work, I was recruited to help out at our other downtown store, approximately six blocks away. After I arrived there and got my prep work done, I stood at the counter waiting for lunch customers to begin arriving.
As I gazed across the food court at another restaurant, her grey curls caught my eye. She was wearing a hat, but the same glasses and the same jowly scowl she had presented to me on the bus the day before. I stood frozen, waiting for her to turn her face so I could be sure.
She turned. It was her.
My heart leaped into my throat and I ran to the back of the kitchen. Gasping for air and clinging to a metal table, I searched my mind for what I would do if she confronted me. I simply couldn't imagine a graceful way of handling it. All I could do was helplessly argue my innocence.
Who was going to believe a young girl who had no proof of her innocence over a little old grey-haired lady whose money was gone?
After a few moments I realized I couldn't hide in the kitchen all day and I would just have to hope she didn't see me for the rest of the day, which she apparently still had not.
If she did see me that day, she ignored me deliberately. But by the end of the day I realized something disturbing: had someone given me a lie detector test that day, I might not have passed it. I wasn't just afraid of a confrontation.
I felt guilty.
I was completely innocent.
But I felt so guilty, I felt as though I deserved not only to be humiliated, but also arrested and fired from my job. I had spent the whole day fully expecting that. Had it all turned out that way, I think I might have actually been relieved, just like a person who is truly guilty, thankful that everything is finally out in the open.
After that, it took me still many more years to realize I had a serious guilt problem. But not a normal one. This was guilt for things I hadn't done. Every single time someone accused me of something I hadn't done, I couldn't help hating myself. One time I even tried to convince myself I had actually done something I hadn't done, just to reconcile my guilty feelings.
Sometimes we are completely innocent. Sometimes we are innocent of having done things the way others imagine, or with the motive they imagine. Whatever the case, undeserved guilt can be debilitating because there is nothing you can do about it. You can't repent of something you haven't done.
Jesus isn't like that. He would never hold something against you that you haven't done, or cast an unfair light on something you've done, making it appear evil when it is not.
Jesus is not the accuser. The devil is.
Do not accept the devil's condemnation of you. Jesus has compassion for you. He knows the real reasons for the things you do. He knows your challenges. He understands. He wants to heal you with His compassion.
There are those the devil would use to rob you of that healing by unkindly accusing you of motives that are not yours while preaching kindness, or so they think. They have been deceived and you can pray they'll receive Jesus' compassion too. They don't know kindness like Jesus does. They don't know they are serving the devil as they apply scriptures to you that they should be applying to themselves.
Jesus knows your needs. His burden is light. Accept the relief He's offering you. Forsake the world for it, no matter what they think. They don't know. HE DOES. Turn your back on the world if you must, if they demand you face the accuser unrelentingly.
Don't let His sweet offer of sanctuary in Him be wasted on unjust judgments from those who are wise only in their own eyes. Don't let the devil win.
You are allowed - not just allowed but COMMANDED - to take your pearls back from those who trample them, however inadvertent their trampling might be. Your enemies would love to see your pearls trampled. Then they could imagine they were right to believe that your pearls were never pearls at all. But you know there are people who will die if they believe that and you know you can't let that happen.
There is one who cares. Who knows the truth. Who knows the value of your pearls and wants to lead you to the place where that value will be realized. Where the healing He wants to give you will be received by others who truly want it and will cherish it, will honor it because they know it comes from Him.
Forsake condemnation. Push the pointed finger of the accuser out of your face, run into the arms of the Almighty and bury yourself there.
We are all guilty. Every single one. Constant acceptance of guilt, shame and condemnation are not part of His plan of redemption for you. And your condemnation does not enable your redemption.
As you forsake the enemy's plan for you, He will turn up the heat. Condemnation will come at you from every side. Choose the greater plan. Some have entertained angels unawares. Don't entertain fallen ones.
Your savior wants to give you freedom. Let your chains fall and leave them behind. They are not worth your eternal life.
Turn from condemnation. Run to redemption.
Jesus didn't die for nothing.
He did it for you.