Every once In a while, I mess up really, really bad, and last Saturday (July 11) was one of those times. And when I do I’m incredibly grateful for God’s mercy, and for King David’s ability to encapsulate my feelings in the Psalms. Psalm 51 is a particularly good example,
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. ~ Psalm 51:1-4, NLT.
King David wrote Psalm 51 after he was confronted by Nathan the prophet concerning his sin with Bathsheba and his conspiracy to have her husband murdered on the field of battle (see 2 Samuel, Chapters Eleven and Twelve).
And then I asked God to forgive me, because I so desperately needed His forgiveness.
So what actually happened? What did I do that made me feel such guilt and shame? As it turns out I was playing a new game on my iPad, and while the game itself was relatively harmless, at various points during the game it would offer timed challenges where you could earn extra coins if you could complete a level within a certain amount of time, for example, twenty seconds.
Now, I’ve never done very well with arcade-style games, or timed games of any kind, and I don’t play them as a general rule. They put way too much stress on me and have always been sure-fire triggers for panic attacks and self-abuse. When I downloaded this game there was no indication that it was an arcade game, or that there were any timing issues at all, so I thought I was safe.
Then I started playing it and discovered differently, but the timing challenges didn’t happen very often, and they were doable within the allotted time, so I didn’t worry about them.
Until I reached the upper levels. Once there I ran into a timed challenge that I could not beat no matter what I tried, at which point I absolutely fell apart. It drove me into a panic attack, and I started hitting myself ~ something I haven’t done in many months. In fact, it’s been almost exactly one year, because I wrote a post about God healing me of the self-abuse on July 16, 2019 (Go To Forgiveness, Go Right To Forgiveness. Don’t Pass Through Guilt, Don’t Go To Condemnation.), and interestingly enough He healed me of it in the context of playing a computer game.
So I had a panic attack and started hitting myself. Looking back, I feel a lot of shame about that, because I feel like I should have known better. I should have known better!! The problem is, when I get into situations like that, I can’t see the panic attack and subsequent self-abuse coming. I’m just blithely playing along, trying to complete the time challenge ~ and failing.
I guess that should have been my clue, that I kept failing at it, because I hadn’t failed at any of the other challenges, and I failed at this one every single time I tried. I should have stopped after two or three successive failed attempts, but somehow I just couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see that necessity, so I kept on trying until it was too late and I had reached the point of no return. It was at that point that my face was sweating and I was calling myself bad names, and after that was when I started hitting myself.
Once the self-abuse started, I kind woke up and realized what was happening, and all the rage at myself drained out of me. But I still couldn’t forgive myself. Not yet. Because, like I said earlier, I should have known. I should have KNOWN!!
I’ve always had the hardest time forgiving myself. I can forgive anyone, ANYONE, but not myself. Well, and my sister…
But even she’s easier to forgive than I am. But I’ve come to realize that in making that determination about myself, I’m really saying that I know more about me than God does ~ and that’s simply not true. And I’ve already come to understand that I would make a rotten God (or god; I Would Make a Terrible God).
McT and I talked about this situation during my phone-appointment last Tuesday, and we decided that what’s really going on is that I have a mean internal judge ~ probably all three parents internalized ~ both biological parents and my stepdad ~ who won’t let me accept that I’m human and therefore imperfect, and liable to make mistakes. When I was a kid being abused in the cult, if I made a mistake someone died, and it’s quite difficult to break that connection in my mind.
So McT and I decided that I need to fire the judge. What I really need to do is ask God to break the connection in my mind between the mistakes I was forced to make in the cult and the people who died as a result of those mistakes ~ because the mistakes were unavoidable. I had no control over them. They were forced on me by the people conducting the rituals.
My parents fostered that perfectionism at home as well. I can remember times when I would spill a glass of milk at the dinner table, and my mother would accuse me of doing it on purpose if I didn’t act abjectly remorseful.
Then there was the time after I left college when I decided to enroll in a local secretarial school. I completed the program there with the highest score anyone had ever gotten at that school ~ 99.2% overall ~ and when I told my stepdad about it, all he could say was, “Why didn’t you get 100%?” I was crushed after he said that. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right, like no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough.
Now, I certainly don’t want to dwell on the past, but these particular events were times that, in essence, branded me. They left scars that only God can heal ~ and I believe He will do just that, just as He’s healed me of all the other things people have done to me. I believe He can and will break the connections between what happened to me in the cult and the consequences of those things, so I’m no longer trapped into doing things I don’t want to do ~ like hitting myself, because God didn’t want me to be abused in a satanic cult in the first place!
You are not to sacrifice any of your children in the fire to Molech. Do not profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. ~ Leviticus 18:21, CSB.
“The people of Judah have sinned before my very eyes,” says the LORD. “They have set up their abominable idols right in the Temple that bears my name, defiling it. They have built pagan shrines at Topheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!” ~ Jeremiah 7:30-31, NLT.
It’s comforting to me to know that God didn’t want me to be abused in the cult, that it never crossed His mind! Knowing that has really helped me in my healing process, especially with regard to some of the lies Harry told me ~ for example, that he had to abuse me because God hated me. It’s so easy to forgive him for telling me that, because I know he was seriously deceived himself when he said it.
I thank God for His healing power in my life, and for His goodness to me!!
Sarah, I have to say you have the best sense of humor. Fire the judge! I think we all need to do this at one time or another. I am going to remember this in the future when things become very dark and heavy. FIRE THE JUDGE.
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Thanks, Kim, though McT is the one we both need to thank, because he’s the one who suggested it. We were talking about this situation last Tuesday during my phone-session, and that’s exactly what he said ~ that I need to fire the judge. My first response was to laugh, and then I realized that it was a great title for this post, because I’d already been working on it, and had yet to come up with a decent title. McT and I have a similar sense of humor, and that’s one of the many reasons why I like him so much. Aside from that, firing the judge is such a great concept, and it makes a lot of sense, plus it’s something I need to practice on a regular basis. So I guess you and I can do it together!