Thursday, November 14, 2013

Face Up and Fess Up!

I was doing a bible study lesson in which the author asked how incorporating healthy discipline into your lifestyle would make you a happier person. The verses she cited referred to the symptoms and consequences of a lifestyle exhibiting a lack of self-control. One of those verses is Romans 8:7-8: The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. At first, I thought, wow, that's pretty harsh! But then I thought about it...if my flesh is in control of my mind, then of course I will not want to submit to God. I will desire to turn away from God, because I will want to do what I want, not what He wants! You can't do both.
As I pondered that question, I thought about the recent months. Several months ago, I had started eating really well. I had a routine. I felt really good and I noticed that my attitude had changed. I was calmer. I hate to admit this, but I was nicer. But in recent weeks, I've noticed changes. Little by little, I started slipping back into my old eating habits and I noticed a difference in my attitude. My "away from home" attitude was fine; it was my "at home" attitude that was pretty nasty. I became irritable and short-tempered. The Old Mary was back. Why? 

Then I realized that a lack of self-control had made me unhappy with myself, and because I was angry with myself (because I lacked that self-control!), I unknowingly took it out on the one person I live with, the kindest, most easygoing person in the world-my husband. I decided to call it displaced blame. Little did I know that term already exists and it was first "discovered" or explained by Anna Freud. It's basically taking out your frustrations on someone or something less threatening.

Little things started to irritate me. Things that were out of place. I wanted everything in its place, and if it wasn't it threw me! Now, I realize that it was because I could control those things at a time when I was feeling out of control with my eating habits and general health.  Poor Brian. No matter what he did or didn't do, it was wrong. He became my scapegoat.

A scapegoat is someone who is unfairly blamed for something others have done. I think that, without realizing it, I was blaming Brian for all these silly little out-of-place things, when really I was blaming myself, but didn't want to admit I'd failed to achieve healthy goals...yet again.

In the Old Testament, during Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, two goats were chosen-one had to be perfect, unblemished for the blood sacrifice. The high priest took the other and ceremonially placed the sins of the people on its head and sent it out into the desert to perish, carrying the sins of the people far from them. A scapegoat. Escape-goat (William Tyndale came up with that, not me). The sins of the people were thus atoned for.

Did I think that by displacing the blame for my own shortcomings, I would be forgiven? It only made it worse, because I felt guilty for the way I was acting! It's a vicious cycle. Only by coming to Jesus, the One who freely gave Himself as a scapegoat for my sin, would I find true forgiveness. I had to face up and fess up to what I was doing. He wasn't disappointed in me for my lack of control! He's used to that!  But He was disappointed in me for blaming someone else for my lack of control-for not taking responsibility for my own shortcoming, my own sin. 

Jesus offered an escape from all of this blaming and shaming and guilt--the cross. He became both the perfect atoning blood sacrifice and the scapegoat for our sins. All we need to do is face up and fess up! 

Blessings Along the Path,

Song of the Day:
Jesus Messiah (Chris Tomlin)

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