After hitting the publish button on Andy's interview the other night, we were talking about how maybe his recovery experience doesn't look very spiritual. Yes, he had a very important experience of repentance and healing in his relationship with God, back in Papua New Guinea. But from our perspective, that was the doorway that he walked through, in order to begin the journey to recovery. The long and winding road encompasses a bunch of other stuff.
Owning the junk as it comes up, still to this day, and on until the day we die.
Staying engaged in the marriage and keeping it a place that we love to be in.
And probably a bunch of other stuff that you can't always put a Bible verse next to.
Andy was initially given a program for treatment that was basically a Bible study. It wasn't all that helpful, to be honest. Because he already knew all those verses. He'd translated every single one of them into another language over a ten-year period, and he was addicted to pornography half the time.
Information about God's word was not the issue.
The issue was letting God loose to change and heal deep down inside. And until the owning and the working, at a deep level, you could quote scripture, or you could say "abracadara, bibbidi, bobbidi, boo." And either way, you'd have wasted your breath.
For Andy, and I bet a whole lot of other guys (and us girls too), the real deal was owning his stuff, and working on it in a bunch of different ways. All of those ways, I believe, are under the mercy and grace of a loving God.
I do believe in the power of the Word of God. Living and active and able to slice us right open.
Not a magic wand. And not a band-aid.
Our God is a consuming fire.
Not a tame lion, as C. S. Lewis would say.
He wants more from us than memorizing the right verses and acting the right way. We can do a bunch of stuff right, on our own, with our hearts of stone. He wants to give us a heart of flesh.
Your heart of flesh is going to be open and vulnerable and able to let love in. If you have trouble with that--if you have to be always perfect, smart, funny, well-coiffed, perfectly employed, or in full-time ministry in order to deserve love--I will double-dog guarantee you that your problems are rooted in your childhood.
I'm sorry, but you're gonna have to go there.
The purpose of going there is not to blame the people who hurt you back then. The purpose is to get honest about the pain that shapes your life today. And to go with Jesus into that pain for the purpose of forgiveness and healing.
Here's what Andy said last night, which I love.
"I used to try hard when I was younger, to read my Bible and pray the right way. If anybody asked me, I could say that my spiritual life was good. But if I look at the fruit of the Spirit in my life then, compared to now, it's a whole different thing. The love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and faithfulness that I have now, I never had back then."
So, did I just make a bunch of ya'll really, really crazy with this post?