Many of you will remember the ‘Talk About It’ series we did at the beginning of this year. In that series, we tried to begin discussion on some seriously difficult topics that aren’t generally spoken about in churches. We did this with the expectation that the hope and healing of the Gospel would be spoken into one another's lives.
Well, some months later God is still at work in our lives, healing and helping us. One of our members Kristina Gillum has written on this continuing work of God in her life. I hope it serves to encourage you as God continues His work in your life for your good and his glory.
Does anyone remember the old book and record burning parties? The giant bonfires would blow through your town along with the latest evangelist, leaving plumes of acrid smoke that would enrage today’s ecology-minded Christians. It was said that due to “backmasking”, rock and roll records held satanic messages. Jokes were made that if you play country music backward, their wife and best friend would keep their clothes on, the truck and tractor would start back up, and the horse and dog would come back to life. It occurred to me that there’s a more insidious form of evil that comes from playing old tapes in reverse that invades minds in the church, both individually and collectively.
In a deep depression that I began to fear wasn’t going to end, I finally cried out to God to help me stop resisting the sadness and learn what I could from it. After decades of praying for it to go away completely, and thinking I’d gotten no answer, it was time to accept that maybe “NO” was the answer. I stopped to consider reconciling myself to the possibility that depression may always be a part of my earthly existence, and will visit with varying intensity and lengths of stay. Teach me what I can learn from this I plead. I’d decided to stop playing the same “broken record” prayer and flip it around. Conviction and clarity started to come almost immediately. That same night I slept well for the first time in months.
I woke with a burden that I’d been playing old tapes backward, to the disservice of God, self, and those who’ve tried to love me. I realized those “record labels” were not Motown, but mostly from MYTOWN. The town I carry around in memory, the conditioning of decades of learning from untrusted sources that I somehow still believed. To my disbelief, these revelations weren’t overburdening what is often my tormented mind, and I was reminded that I’d asked God to show me this burden of depression as something useful. WOW! Instead of the yolk that comes with egg on face, the meaning of “take my yoke upon you and learn from me” was happening in real time. What might come from acknowledging this burden as not mine alone, but visualizing that yoke on a team with Jesus next to me? And assigned load with a purpose? So, what were the broken records I’d been gleaning evil from by playing in reverse?
Stigma, discrimination, stereotyping, just to name a few. The stigma of having a mental health issue like PTSD and depressive disorder, the fear of being discriminated against for it, the fear of being stereotyped as a failure who’s just riding the system. In my own ugly pride and ego, I’d let all of that stereotyping stigmatize others in my eyes, the way us humans are wont to do. I was discriminating and stereotyping those who have both spiritual wealth and worldly wealth as being unable to understand or accept me. I was perverting humility by playing it backward and assuming people who’ve tried to befriend me saw me as inferior. God showed me that I spent a lot of time crying out in discomfort but refusing to be comforted. I did this by not really believing compliments and encouragements that were given to me. I did this by deciding that invitations were done out of pity, and it caused me to not boldly take my place in God’s family.
My dog revealed this to me when she was clowning around as I lay on the couch in despair, refusing her efforts to get through, she’s tossing toys in the air, wagging and wiggling, and I continued to lay there despondent. Even though her antics appeared not to work in the immediate, they worked wonders I felt like an ass but it showed me something I might be doing wrong to family and friends as well. Somehow this made it possible able to really grieve my friend Fred and my dog Ziggy who’d, in the worst of times, appealed to my morality and sense of duty to return their love and try to be who they thought I was.
In my church group “HELP ME WITH MY DISBELIEF LORD” has come up repeatedly, and I’d allowed it to be reduced to just a turn of phrase, not seeing the real power in playing that particular record daily. If I want to be who my dog thinks I am, a good master, I need to believe God is who He says He is, a Good Master. Furthermore, if I want to be half the mother and grandmother my kids seem to believe I am, I need to believe God is the Father He promises He is.
It’s kind of scary to admit these things openly, but I feel it’s the light I’ve been given to shine. I really believe I’m not alone in this backward record playing of defenses, and it’s a huge enemy that brings the separation of the world into the church. Stigma and stereotyping are an undeniable reality. Deciding who and what others are or operating under the assumption they’ve done that to us. I hope to have the courage to fight my own. We all are guilty, including would be victims of the big lies that separate all classes of peoples from living in the Truth that Jesus came to make us One Body.