I want to talk to you in this fourth installment of the trauma series about “Why blame is a heart issue.” So let’s just get started.
This past weekend we got two of our older kids ready to take their next steps – one back to college for sophomore year and one to her new apartment in Chicago since she graduated college in May.
I was thinking about where they’re at in life, because I work with a lot of young people their age to transition into adulthood. They’re about the age where you start to get perspective on life. Maybe you learn that your parents aren’t perfect, or life isn’t perfect and things may just not go according to your plan.
It’s always the new seasons that bring new lessons. It made me think back to when I was starting at Notre Dame. Mind you, this was before Facebook so I had no one to compare myself to before I got to campus.
But I had this image in my head of what it would be. Everyone else was much smarter than me, skinnier than me and no one came from a divorced family. I had a total lens of, “I’m less than.”
What I didn’t know was that behind all those insecurities was baggage I didn’t know I was carrying. It was like, because I’d been through that childhood trauma of my parents divorce, I didn’t realize that I was reacting to everything in life out of that. For one, I felt immense guilt for leaving my Mom in Philadelphia.
I felt insecure when it came to academics and looks, so I thought I had to find another way to prove I was worthy of attention. Drinking blame my thing. On top of that, I ate a ton because I was insecure about the weight I was gaining from all the drinking. Even though it was “fun”, it was a very painful season of life for me having no idea what was going on inside me.
Here’s what’s interesting about that space where we’re still on the inside reacting to life out of that initial trauma we haven’t dealt with. We have a hard time being present. We don’t want to feel the pain. We just want to numb it with anything we can get our hands on.
Around this time of the year, back to school, is always when I get super reflective not just because fall is coming, but because it’s the anniversary of my Dad’s passing. On Sunday the 23rd he will have been gone 9 years. Today, and every year – I thank God over and over again for our relationship (even though he lived three hours away for much of my life), and for the forgiveness we got to have before he passed. I wasn’t blaming him anymore for leaving or getting remarried or any of that, because I was in recovery and I had a relationship with Jesus. That, was the greatest gift I could have gotten.
Truly it is the joy of the Lord that is my strength in recovering from Dad’s passing. Doesn’t mean I’m completely over it. I still fall apart sometimes, and often desperately miss being able to call him. But I sense his nearness, especially with Ellie in our life.
The day I got the call that he’d passed, I was in deeply immense pain, but I felt free. Free from the weight of blaming him. And that’s what I want to talk about today – Blame, and how it’s really a heart issue that God wants to heal.
Our seasons of blame are never really joyous, are they? I can remember in the last season of my drinking, I would go out with friends and the more drinks I had, the more I’d complain about my parents divorce and what happened to me. It kept me on this pity pot of blaming them. I wasn’t taking responsibility for owning up to what it was doing to me because I was still numbing it at age 30.
I eventually had to make a choice to stop blaming.
There’s this quote from a guy named Jeff Gitmore. He said, “Blaming others for your problems is like blaming donuts for being fat. It wasn’t the donut, it was the choice.”
I talked about choice in the beginning of this series.
It’s a CHOICE to address your wounds from trauma.
You get to decide – am I going to stay bitter? or am I going to get better?
Am I going to be a victim? or am I going to be a victor?
I know it’s easier said than done. It’s not easy to let go of blame. We are human and it’s a part of life. So, you aren’t alone. We all have been there.
In fact, it actually goes all the way back to Adam and Even in the garden of Eden.
In Genesis Chapter 3 Adam and Eve are in the garden. Eve ate the forbidden fruit from the tree and shared it with Adam. After they covered themselves up with fig leaves and hid because they were ashamed, the Lord God called to them asking if they’d eaten from the tree and Adam BLAMES Eve, in verse 12, “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Verse 13, “Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’”
She BLAMED the serpent, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Lots of pointing fingers, even in the garden.
We’ve all done it.
The question is – what is blaming doing to us? What kind of behaviors are we engaging in that protect us from being taking personal responsibility? How do they keep us stuck?
That’s what we have to look at. Instead of pointing a mirror at someone else, we need to point it at ourselves and take a look.
We live in a society today where there is a lot of BLAME, unfounded blame. People are cruel and accuse others of things that someone else did. It’s ugly. For some people it feels better to unleash their anger and attack an innocent person. But often times, it’s directed at the wrong person.
Now I’m well aware that blame IS part of the process of letting go, whether it’s blaming ourselves, or someone else. We have to do it for a season, in order to realize it isn’t working for us.
But when I say we have to look in the mirror at ourselves, there is something specific that I’m talking about, and that is we have to look at the condition of our HEARTS.
The world will tell you this: “Follow your heart.”
But the Lord? He has another way. He knows our hearts. He searches our hearts.
Jeremiah 17 verses 9 and 10, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind.”
What do we do when we blame? We’re looking for the cure, when there is none.”
Scripture talks about what “defiles the heart.”
If you don’t know what “defile” means, Webster says it means, “to corrupt the purity or perfection of.”
If you go to Mark 7, it tells the story of how Jesus spoke to some Pharisees about judging others who weren’t following the law according to how they thought they should (which is often what we do when we blame, right?)
In verses 1 and 2 it says, “The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were “defiled”, that is, unwashed.” (This is a tradition with the Pharisees – a ceremonial washing of the hands.)
Verse 5, “So the Pharisees of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating food with defiled hands?”
(So they were blaming the disciples for not following the law according to THEIR traditions.
And JESUS, used it to teach a parable.
Verse 6 and 7, “He replied, ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
‘These people honor me with their lips, but their HEARTS are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teaches are merely human rules.”
He goes on to even say in verse 13, “You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.”
Verse 14-15, “Again Jesus called the crowd to Him and said,
“Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. NOTHING OUTSIDE A PERSON CAN DEFILE THEM BY GOING INTO THEM. RATHER, IT IS WHAT COMES OUT OF A PERSON THAT DEFILES THEM.”
“After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. ‘Are you so dull?’ he asked. ‘Don’t you see that NOTHING THAT ENTERS A PERSON FROM THE OUTSIDE CAN DEFILE THEM? For it doesn’t go INTO their HEART but into their stomach and then out of their body.”
He went on (in verse 20), “WHAT COMES OUT of a person is what defiles them. FOR IT IS FROM WITHIN, OUT OF A PERSON’S HEART, THAT EVIL THOUGHTS COME – sexual immorality, THEFT, murder, adultery, GREED, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.” ALL THESE EVILS COME FROM INSIDE AND DEFILE A PERSON.”
So it’s not what we take in, like food, that defiles us – it’s what comes out of our HEARTS. And those are some ugly things that come out of our hearts when they’re defiled!
How many of those things are happening in our world today? A lot, right?
I look at those and think, “Man I blamed my parents for so long,” because I had so many of those in my heart. From the time I was a little girl! I have this very early memory of being at the shore with my cousins and my great aunt buying an Entemann’s danish. I wanted it so bad and they told us we couldn’t have it. But my cousin goes in and takes a bite and you would have thought somebody stole my dog. She and I can both vividly remember what I said to her, “If anyone deserves to have a bite of that it’s ME because of my parents divorce.”
Now, I was very young at the time and had no idea that I needed healing on the inside. I was just at the very beginning of feeling what had happened. But behind that pain and desire to numb it with a danish, was blame. And the more I blamed them, the more broken my heart got.
Let’s not forget the weight issue! I was always gaining weight from the excess food I’d eat so diets started at the age of 8! We always thought the weight was my problem. But it was the brokenness in my heart that we didn’t see. (Sidenote – parents, if you struggle with your weight or eating disorders from trauma, please don’t put your kids on a diet. Please try to see what they may be dealing with beneath the surface. Pray for God to reveal to you what may be going on where you can help them that isn’t about the surface. And if you struggle, the best thing you can do is get help for you. That is what will show them if they ever have an issue, you got help so they can too.)
We ALL need healing from the inside out!
You know I blamed my Dad for YEARS for putting me on those diets. He didn’t know that it was something on the inside. He was just trying to help and when it came time in my early recovery to address it, he totally got it. He felt so bad and we just cried because we didn’t know all those years. What a gift that was.
But I didn’t get there until I surrendered and stopped blaming. I had to get accountable with action. That’s when things changed. Jesus did the rescuing, but I had to take the steps.
So we really need to LOOK AT OUR HEARTS when we’re blaming and get ACCOUNTABLE through ACTION. This isn’t just for dealing with trauma. This is for anything we’re procrastinating on in life. I mean, I have a book I’m dying to write. And it’s just now, with Ellie a little over a year that I’m like, “Okay, it’s time to write this and I think I can do it.” But I have to take the steps!
I know, blame and excuses are more comfortable but they really just keep us stuck.
This is exactly why Jesus calls us to repent, because HE WANTS TO HELP US THROUGH our struggles. HE WANTS TO HEAL OUR HEARTS! He didn’t die on the cross for us to say, “Hey you, get over it!”
2nd Chronicles 7:14 tells us,
“If my people, who are called by my name, will HUMBLE themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
If we HUMBLE ourselves – hi – knowing that we need help, he will forgive our sin! We ALL sin and fall short of the glory of God! What a relief that he wants to forgive our sins! He loves us that much!
How many of you know that when you’re blaming someone, you aren’t really humble because you think you somehow know better what’s best or how they should be. (I have one of those people in my life right now!) We think, “They are the ones who have the problem. If they would just do this…” It doesn’t mean they don’t. But WE are the only ones we can change. WE are the only ones who can be accountable to ourselves.
Brene Brown said this about blame:
“Blame has an inverse relationship with accountability. Accountability by DEFINITION is a vulnerable process.”
Too many of us don’t want to be vulnerable when it’s actually the path to freedom.
Good thing Jesus gave us some hope and guidance in this area regarding our hearts.
Ezekiel 36:26 says,
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you, I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
“A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.”
He will take care of our hearts if we LET HIM!
So do these things:
- “TRUST IN THE LORD with ALL YOUR HEART and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths.” That’s from Proverbs 3, verses 5-6.
2) “LOVE THE LORD your God with ALL YOUR HEART, all your soul and ll your mind.” That’s from Matthew 22, verse 37.
3) And pray this verse, from Psalm 51, verse 10: “CREATE IN ME A PURE HEART Oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
The Lord God WANTS to change us from the inside out. He WANTS to heal our hearts.
As the world continues to look at the surface, He will ALWAYS be looking at our hearts. We can always turn to Him.
1st Samuel 16:7 reminds us, “The Lord does not look at the things of people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
You are SAFE with Him. Your HEART Is safe with him. You can trust in Him.