The secrets that lie in the heart of a man are known only to him and his Creator…but it is only the Creator who truly knows the motives behind them. – Rebecca Balko.
Do you remember ever getting busted by your mom or dad when you were a kid with your hand in the proverbial cookie jar? Most likely the question posed to you was something along the lines of, “Do you know that you are not supposed to be doing this?” And likewise the probable response was, “No”. Why in the world would we say “no” and why would we EVER think that this answer would suffice? Well in the words of the great Jimmy Buffett, because “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!” It seems that human nature dictates that when we mere mortals find ourselves in a predicament ~ well….we have an affinity for lying. Sure, we don’t want to call it that and if you just approached a person and asked “Are you a liar?” you could be fairly certain that their answer would be “No”…which of course in and of its self… would also be a lie. Most often we might prefer to reference the lie as being an “explanation.”
A few examples of this are: (1) I’m not fat – I’m just big boned; (2) I wasn’t sleeping – I was just resting my eyes; (3) I wasn’t lying – I must have just been mistaken. As humans we also have yet another incredible skill ~ one that’s baffling to us and even more so to those who know us. That is the ability to lie to ourselves. The best con artist in the world is the one that believes their own story. You see if I can allow myself consciously or subconsciously to believe the words coming out of my mouth and rationalize to myself what I am doing ~ I will often be quite convincing…at least in my own eyes. Some humorous examples of this are:
Scenario I: Cop pulls you over for running through a yield sign – You then begin to explain, “No officer, I’m not questioning if you’re telling me the truth, but this time of the day the sun makes me blink a lot and I just didn’t see it.” (Truth: The sun really does make you blink).
Scenario II: It was YOUR turn to do the dishes and your house mate points out they’ve not been done. You say something like, “Are there dishes in the sink? I didn’t know.” (Truth: I didn’t know – because I just avoided the kitchen all together).
This problem however can be far from humorous when it comes to more serious problems in our lives and the lies that we tell ourselves and that we tell those who care about us.
(1) The person who has been diagnosed with emphysema and has been told that they MUST quit smoking if they are to have any notable length or quality of life. But for this individual a crazy insanity will often set in and they will become convinced that they could smoke a “light” cigarette – after all, (they think), it isn’t the brand I “used” to smoke. The belief is that THEN it will be ok…but it won’t.
(2) Then you have the alcoholic who has been told that they have now developed cirrhosis of the liver and MUST quit drinking if they are to have any quality of life or to even continue living. But this same person will also have a strange insanity set in and become convinced that as long as they don’t drink “hard liquor” and just stick to beer or wine – THEN it will be ok….but it won’t.
To the family, friends and employers – this is aggravating, frustrating, frightening and dumbfounding. They will wonder initially, “What are they thinking?” But as time passes and the condition worsens anger will usually step in and their thoughts will be, “They don’t even care about themselves or anyone else!”
The truth be told though, for that smoker or drinker – as the consequences of their actions begin to worsen, most of them actually do realize what is happening and also realize that it is their own behavior causing it. But sadly by the time this realization occurs, they find themselves beyond the place of being able to change or quit on their own. They face the dilemma that upon becoming truly ready to change – their desire is often looked upon with cynicism and met with sarcasm from those who have toiled with them for so long.
During this time last year I watched a movie, (one I’ve seen various versions of before), depicting the Easter story. Towards the end of the movie it portrayed Jesus on the cross with one man on either side of him. There were on-lookers and Roman soldiers on the ground and high above them were these 3 men on crosses, serving out their death sentences. While everyone stood below, there was a conversation going on between the three. One of the men was angry with Jesus and was taunting him. The other man was scolding the first and was taking ownership for his own crimes. Then he said to Jesus, “Lord remember me when you come into your Kingdom” (Luke 23:42) What struck me for the first time, was that no one on the ground could know what was going on in this man’s heart. They only saw a criminal worthy of death. A criminal, (I’m certain), they would have been convinced could never change. But what they couldn’t see was the heart of this man; They couldn’t see that he had come to terms with his responsibility for his crime(s); They couldn’t see his remorse; They couldn’t know he was stepping up and defending another man’s innocence; They couldn’t know that in his heart he had come to believe. All they knew was what they could see and what they had known from the past. What they could not know – was the condition of this man’s heart. That in this brief passing of time, circumstances lead this convicted criminal to have an awakening that had caused him to behave and speak in a manner different from what had lead him to be placed there to begin with. However, his heart was only known to the one he spoke up for and spoke to – Jesus.
As I watched this it struck such a chord in me – how had I never seen it before? It could only be that things don’t happen in my timing – because as I watched I thought, “WOW that is exactly how it was in my addiction.” (It’s most likely been that way for plenty of others besides me.) Everything about my life and my behavior screamed “I don’t care about anything!!” I was drinking and using myself to death. I had treated everyone who ever loved me with disdain and rejection. I shoved everyone away until I was isolated and tied to a monster that I could not get away from. In the midst of that circumstance and pain, one part of me was screaming out in anger, blaming God, circumstances and outside forces for my predicament and feeling that someone else should be responsible. BUT…the other part of me was soon completely overcome with an all-consuming awareness that indeed it was “I” who had done this to myself and “I” who would have to face the consequences of my actions. Realizing that all along God had in fact, never left me…but it was “I” who had walked away. Facing what seemed an impossible set of circumstances to be overcome ~ I had simply cried out to God that I knew what I had done, I knew that I could not fix myself, I knew that I was not Him and that whatever would become of me – I knew I needed Him and I didn’t want to be apart again – and thankfully… I never had to be.
No one else can know the condition of our hearts, often including ourselves…but thankfully God knows our own hearts better than we do. Discovering that with a simple heart felt request ~ freedom can be found and our lives forever changed.
© 2012-2017 Rebecca Balko.