The One Who brought you out…
Parallel process is a clinical term used to describe the common occurrence in therapy when the therapist’s own experience is reflected in the client’s. It is when a client comes in grieving over the loss of a loved one while the therapist has only just experienced his or her own loss as well. It is a therapist helping a client through feelings of anger and hurt that the therapist has also just recently confronted.
But, here’s the thing: we are all in parallel process. Too often in life it goes unsaid.
Here is where I say it.***
You can find the phrase first in Genesis 15:7 where God reminded Abram: “”I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”
You can do a search and find the reminder in book after book after book of the bible.
Who brought you out.
Many of us, whether we realize it or not, grew up in the burgeoning parenting age of choice and consequences and…Born to Win and Children: The Challenge…all in a country that prizes pulling yourself up from your boot straps…a culture that puts the “self made man” on a pedestal. You make choices in life and choices have consequences. Make good choices and you will go far. Make bad choices and lay in the bed you made.
YOU can do anything!
But, if YOU mess up…that’s on YOU.
So much potential!
So, just make good choices and dream big and work hard!
And, if anything bad happens…what did YOU learn? What can YOU can do differently next time?
Some of the wonderful outcomes, of this way of seeing the world, is that it empowers the individual. There is less of a tendency to feel “stuck”. You aren’t at the mercy of everyone else.
YOU can do it! YOU are “born to win”.
The tricky part is when this worldview influences your spirituality…and something seems to be missing.
What is it?
Or, is the question WHO is it?
I know it has to be around here somewhere.
No, not here.
It IS all about YOU.
So, I am going to be honest and let you know that when I come up against some stressful days rather than “casting all my cares on Him” my first tendency is to ask myself what I am doing wrong. I have learned somewhere that the stress I am experiencing is the consequence. I must be doing something wrong. The fact that I have gotten to this hard place is my fault. I am suffering the consequences of bad decisions.
It is all about ME.
What I can do.
What wrong choices have I made?
And, sometimes reminding myself of what I have been able to get through in the past, with God’s help, can be very helpful. Sometimes we need to testify to ourselves about what we have been through and what God has helped us do.
Then, sometimes I am tired of hearing about me….even if it involves God’s work through me.
I want to lay down. I want to throw my hands up in surrender and say: “Help. Come get me. Get ME out of here.”
But, that “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality so often gets in the way.
I struggle to let God take it. I imagine Him up there, gently shaking His head, so sorry I am going through this, but wisely knowing that I let myself get here. He sits back and lets me deal with the consequences of my choices like a good consequence driven parent. He’s going to let me learn my lesson. No way He is going to get in the way of that.
Bottom line…everything is my fault and grace is INCREDIBLY limited.
That sounds like an irrational belief if I’ve ever heard one.
Surely this choice and consequence thing is biblical. Galatians 6:7…whatever a man sows he will surely reap. See it is right there!
But, taking this scripture out of context misses out on the bigger story.
Humanity surely shows from the beginning in the garden what we SHOULD reap and I don’t know that we have ever really reaped what we have started sowing at that point. Even after Adam and Eve faced the consequences of their choices, God continuously intervened. He kept getting involved.
Even after Abram lies and cheats for protection in Egypt, God takes care of Abram and reminds him:
“I am the God who brought you out of Ur.”
Even after the Hebrews set up idols and worshipped false gods, ignoring God’s word, He says:
“I am the God who brought out of Egypt.”
Even after they messed up over and over and over…
“I am the God who brought you out…”
And, it is not always due to the bad choices of the people.
Following the commands of the Lord, Daniel ended up in a lion’s den…
And, God brought him out.
The Spirit led Jesus into the dessert.
And, God brought Him out.
He is the One Who has and continues to bring us out.
As much as I need to remind myself of the bears and lions I have killed, I need HIM to remind me that…
He is the One Who brought me out.
Could it be that sometimes I am led, not by bad choices, but by the Lord Himself, to hard places?
No matter how I got there, all I so desperately need in this hard place is for God to come get me…to pick me up and get me out, reminding me that:
I am the One Who brought you out.
I am the One Who will bring you out next time.
And, the next. And, the next. And, the next.
I am the One Who brought you out.
Not your great choices.
Not what you can do.
What He can do.
In my…in your… hard places.
I’m still going to teach and work with people about choices and consequences. I am still going to help people who feel stuck and powerless and hopeless to realize that they DO have options…because that is all true, too.
I just don’t want to forget Who is the One Who brings us out in the midst of our choices.
No matter how we got there.
We can spend so much time trying to figure out the answer to THAT question (how did I get here?) that we fail to notice His outstretched hand, His reminder to trust Him.
God’s people seemed to need the reminder…
I am the One Who brought you out…
Over and over and over again.
I think that you, like me, may need that reminder, too.
Can you imagine Him saying it?
“I am the One Who brought you out.”
The message, implied, if not said outright, is obvious.
He’ll do it again. And, again, and again.
My favorite steps in the common twelve step programs for addressing addiction are the first three:
1. We admitted we were powerless… our lives have become unmanageable.
2 We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.
Let’s be honest. The root of addiction so often lies in the American ideal that we can control anything…and do anything…we set our mind to. I love The Pursuit of Happyness as much as the next guy. It is my favorite movie.
But, when we cannot…because we CAN’T… control and do ANYTHING…we turn to something to help us feel that control that we can never attain…alcohol, drugs, eating or not eating, shopping, working…
I wonder how much of America is actually addicted to something…never facing the reality of our lack of control…our need for these first three steps…
We ARE powerless and our lives often become unmanageable.
We DO have a Power greater than ourselves Who can restore us to sanity.
We NEED to turn our will and our lives over to God.
…never acknowledging His reminder…
“I am the One Who brought you out.”
Sometimes you CAN’T pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
Sometimes the One we need to look up to isn’t the self-made man lifted up on the pedestal…
…but the One who chose to be denigrated and lifted up on the cross.