I have been chewing over this blog for a few days now and each time I go beyond a paragraph it becomes either a rant or way too personal but last night, as I led down to sleep, it all fell into place.
I believe too often we heal the surface but do not clean out what is causing the wound. I think of friends who have gone to the doctor’s or even to hospitals and have got medicines, had operations, taken antibiotics etc, Yet if one googles the NHS diagnosis will say “caused by stress or anxiety”. But very rarely does anyone take time to find out what is causing the stress or the anxiety, or if they do then it is again treated superficially rather than getting to the heart of it. But that is because getting to the heart of something is hard work and painful.
The piece that brought this blog to a place I felt I could share with others was when I read the introduction to David Olusoga’s “Black and British: A Forgotten History”. He recounts of how when he was a young teen, himself, his mother, two sisters, a younger brother and his grandmother, were driven from their home by repeated nightly attacks where the perpetrator would throw bricks through their windows and of how over time all they had was boarded up plywood where the windows should have been. He recounts the terror they felt along with the sleepless nights and the well meaning, but misguided advise of a teacher. Eventually the family were moved to temporary accommodation but when he crept back into the estate he saw a swastika and the words “NF Won Here” daubed across the plywood windows. How do we delve into that pain, that fear, that helplessness, that terror of David’s family and too many other families like his? Changes of law are surface things. There needs to be real listening and real hearing and real learning.
As I pondered this I got to wondering why would someone want to abuse a family like this? What fears and anxieties were they harbour? Are we willing to talk to the perpetrator as well as the victim? But also there is another group in this tale – those who kept quiet and said nothing. Those who lived in the same street, the same neighbourhood, went to the same school, and who would have been friendly to the family and yet did not step in and help. Is it like the school playground where, once one person is being bullied, the rest can relax because it isn’t them? How do we look at the wounding within all these groups without getting judgemental?
Well the obvious answer is Jesus and that I would not deny. But I do wonder how often we are holding similar fears, similar needs to be top dog, to turn the other way, to keep our heads down and just do our stuff within the deep psyche of our churches? I think of the story of the Good Samaritan where good and godly men walked on by, not because they were bad but because they were afraid or relieved that it wasn’t them. Again these are wounds that need to be healed but often get overlooked. We do like the simplicity of good guys/bad guys even though each of us is more complex than that if we real look within ourselves.
I’ve a friend who said her family are praying about the lawlessness of this country and the churches need to have more of Jesus in them but as they have really engaged with praying they have realised that they need to deal with their lawlessness within themselves and their deep need of more Jesus. Too often we point the finger outwards and don’t look at ourselves.
So we know God wants to heal us, as Christine Sine reminded us in her blog on Monday, but do we want to lay ourselves bare and let God heal us? Do we want to let go of the boundaries we have build around ourselves to keep us safe that we have built so long ago that we don’t know they are there? I believe every time we can turn aside when someone is suffering, or make sure we keep our own group safe then we have ignored the walls that we have build. But can we really be ready to stand up for the victim when they are being bullied and abused? Can we also be willing to love the perpetrator and find out why they do as they do? We can if we are willing to pray more, to heal our own deep wounds and stop being afraid of what might become of us.
Things like the basics we are doing at the moment to deal with covid-19 – wear masks, don’t gather in groups, keep 2m distance, sanitize – are great starting points, as are regular healthcheck ups, eating well, exercise, etc, – are all great. As are changes to the law regarding racial, gender and other issues where there has been discrimination. But these are only a first step. We need to change our hearts. That is something we can only do if we spend time really looking at our wounds and really wanting to clean them out.
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.As Psalm 51:10-12 says – it’s got to start with me not them!