As I read Seth’s blog on Sunday one line stood out to me in a powerful way. The words that his therapist spoke to him:
“You’re not a bad person Seth.”
It stood out because immediately it reminded me of the famous line uttered over and over by Robin Williams to Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting:
“It’s not your fault.”
It’s strange how the world works. We can find incredible joy in the smallest things and yet somehow also find darkness so overwhelming that we can’t see a way through it. You will undoubtedly read many explanations for why Robin Williams took his own life this week; some may be slightly accurate and some will be tabloid-esque in their sensationalism.
We convince ourselves that most of us don’t really know. That most of us have never seriously considered taking our own life. Most of us don’t feel depressed or deeply unhappy with the very person we are. Most of us are excited about today and can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. Most of us are pretty good.
But the real truth is that none of that is true.
Many of us have considered taking our own life. Many of us have felt a deep depression at some point in our lives. Many of us can’t stand to look at our own reflection. Many of us can’t even bear to think about getting out of bed, never mind going outside.
Many of us are not doing well (Tweet This!).
This isn’t the narrative we like to tell about ourselves though.
The deep guilt that Seth talked about is what keeps us from opening up about how we’re really doing. We’re ashamed of who we are, so we try everything in our power to avoid letting that spill out for others to see. Maybe we try and suppress that pain through porn, alcohol, or drugs, but usually we aren’t even aware where that pain rises from to know how to deal with it.
The worst way this pain manifests itself is when you feel guilty about being “you.” Where simply waking up brings about countless feelings of shame every day.
Then into this, the church has told us we are no longer sinners and we are free to not sin anymore. So much of what we get taught is all about how to be perfect despite being told in the same breath that we don’t need to be.
No wonder then that shame and guilt thrive when we’re being fed mixed messages of who we are.
If I am free but still look at porn, am I really loved? Am I really worthy of being loved? It must be me, because I’m supposed to be free aren’t I?
What happened to a church demonstrating that Love is wholly adequate to free us and lets that sit for a while, allowing and trusting the beauty of that to be powerful enough to awaken us to the life that is ours?
If we preached this and showed it in our actions to others who are deep in addictions or depression by not offering pat solutions or telling them they are not trying hard enough, then I believe that we would see the veil of shame torn down.
Do we trust that enough to let go of trying to control?
Sadly, I think that often we don’t.
But if this is you today, know that there is another way.
I’m not going to tell you it’s going to be alright, because if addictions teach us anything, it is that it might not be alright. How can it be if we’ve been controlled by them for years?
But I will tell you this. Whether it’s going to be okay or not isn’t really the point right now. The point is: it’s okay to be imperfect (Tweet This!).
If you are kept from sharing your pain with someone because you think that not looking at porn is the ultimate goal then I have good news for you: it’s not.
The ultimate goal is learning to believe there are others exactly like you. Learning to believe that trying your hardest to beat your addiction is unhelpful if you don’t feel allowed or free enough to face your pain first. It’s okay to be you. Yes, even you. It’s okay if we see that too. You won’t be disappointing us – in fact you’ll be offering us a glimpse of grace to reveal our own pain.
Perfection is not what you should strive for, but a freedom to explore the vast array of pain that you carry.
And through that process, may you remember:
“It’s not your fault.”
Don’t I Have to Be Perfect? by Paul Robinson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://www.xxxchurch.com.
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