The question this morning, from the Spirit of the Lord, was simply, "Who am I when I am finally able to relax, or 'let down my guard'?". It could be asked another way, "Who am I - when I do not feel compelled to restrain myself; or to act differently, in order to fit in?"; or, "...when I am all by myself, and feel free to think and act and pursue what I want; ...when no one is looking?; ...when there is absolutely zero accountability?". I was first tempted to object to this line of pointed questioning by asserting that I am not one who has ever been big on pretending! I am usually too "real", honest and transparent for most people! While this is mostly true, still there are those areas, where, when I "let my hair down", I do act differently when alone than I do in front of others, areas where the standard of behavior is not quite up to par with the standard of Torah. Duh! Like I expected it to be! We think too much of ourselves!
So, though I was first tempted to object I was brought up short by some gentle reality reminders. First of all, as one who has suffered multiple personality disorder, for most of her teen through young adult years, defense is futile! Through the wonders of an ability to escape the misery of abuse called "dissociation" there was only pretense for those years, I had to "make up" a life, because I had no memories of the one I was "living", if you could call it that! Though the pretense was not "premeditated", and was, of course, completely "subconscious", it was still a malfunction that causes one to be completely out of touch with oneself, because of several syndromes caused by severe self-rejection. To say that I was "not myself" is an understatement! It is more accurate to say that I had no "self", and consequently very little free will to bring to the table. So it caused a lot of behavioral issues and patterns that I am still working to bring down, so that the actual "me", the "self", that G-d made can come forward and live freely. This has been a work of grace, for sure, and also a work of determination and faithfulness. Righteousness is not for the faint of heart my friends!
But as I have worked free of those many strongholds, I have had one particularly stubborn area that keeps cropping up! Those of you who have known me for very long know that I struggle with my ability to express anger or frustration without sinning, or "letting my mouth loose in evil"! When life "rubs my fur the wrong way" I tend to become very vile in my speech. Oy vey! I would say that this has been my main "besetting sin" since receiving the infilling of the Ruach Ha Kodesh. The lust issues were dealt with early on, the other deeper stuff, like self-rejection, did not seem to push to the outside so often, so they were much less noticeable or irritable. But getting control of this mouth has been like WWII!
However, at this point in life there has been vast improvement, I think we have taken "Normandy Beach"! I have recently been made aware of the need to pin-point this very bad habit as my next "righteousness project", so I have asked the Lord to bring down this stronghold, and I have asked Him to "set a guard over my tongue"! And I have taken a more diligent stance on finding more appropriate adjectives! Some know that one of my favorite sayings is, "Progress is progress!". Since progress has been so hard won for me I celebrate every molecule that I detect! lol And thus the work goes on. We all know that He is faithful. And that, if we will join our faith to His, by absorbing His Word into our being, the strongholds of sin will gradually all come down and we will be like Him! So that is the goal to strive for!
But seriously, I have found that as I gained peace from the many generational strongholds that once plagued me, this problem - the habit of foul mouth - has somewhat dissipated on its own. As I found those who had an anointing to help me recognize and bring down those strongholds I gained a freedom of will that enabled me to overcome and change those habits. Having recovered, and then given a decent burial to, the scores of "Skeletons" that rattled about in the scattered "closets" of my mind, i.e., all those suppressed memories from early childhood to young adulthood, most of which were extremely violent and horrific, the resulting behavioral issues were immediately resolved! Having erased the threatening programs that were playing in the background, that caused the bulk of the instability, anger and discomfort of soul - those were eliminated, leaving only a very ingrained, very unrighteous, habit to deal with! So now the work of diligence begins. But what is misconstrued in most teachings on this subject is that diligent behavior is only possible for the one who has been freed from those strongholds! Bound people are not free to decided much. Pretty much the only decision is whether to risk asking for help - again. But even that isn't as easy as it sounds. Especially after years of finding the "cure" to be worse than the illness!
But back to the original question, in being asked the question this morning, as I considered its meaning, I was reminded this morning of the ironic fact that even when the tendency to swear madly at any frustration or attack was at its raging worst I still managed to "behave myself" in certain situations! I could amazingly control this bad habit at church for example (though in later years I decided not to, because I decided it was best to be "who I was" all the time, until all the "bad stuff" was changed - rather than be hypocritical - just to be clear, I had already tried changing it myself, so...). But also I found that I could control it it in work situations, or with strangers or people whom I wished to impress, though controlling it was a bit of a strain! But at home, when I was not "on guard", oy vey! The trash mouth reigned! So there was an obvious contrast between who I was trying to be, or preferred to think of myself as, and who I was in stark reality! A disconnect between the Spirit man and the flesh man, who, if I understand correctly, is supposed to be dead! As Tevia would say "For a dead man, he talks a lot!" So I had to ask myself, who am I anyway? It is clear that whatever is "in us" will come out when we are pressed, so clearly what needs to change is what is in us! I think this is what is glibly referred to as "renewing the mind" in most religious or spiritual circles. It is NOT as easy as it sounds!
I think the most confusing thing about the way most institutions (that we turn to for spiritual instruction) go about teaching righteousness, holiness and becoming like G-d, is that frequently the fact that this is a lifelong process is somehow missed, or misconstrued. Leadership tends to put too much pressure on those who are new at this life, and even more on those who have been at it for awhile. However, typically where they fail is that they do not systematically teach about the problem of strongholds, nor do they administer the tearing down of those strongholds that prevent holy living! The word or idea of "Strongholds" can represent everything from bad thought habits, to deeply rooted belief structures, to generations old behavioral patterns, such as alcoholism.
But leadership in most religious or spiritual settings seem to be missing this point, that wherever a stronghold exists within a human psyche, the person afflicted with the stronghold is not truly free in that area, and does not have the freedom of will to correct the offensive behaviors or wrong thought patterns, or to overcome addictions, etc. which are caused by it; and therefore can not be held accountable to overcoming that behavior until the stronghold is brought down! Also they seem to be ignorant to the fact that many strongholds can not be brought down without Spiritual Authority being applied on their behalf by someone in Spiritual Leadership! So that what usually happens is that a cycle of false guilt, failure and condemnation, is set up due to the fact that person's behavior can never seem to line up with the righteous standard being set down for them! There is little motivation on behalf of the leadership because it is ever so convenient to simply blame the victim, and therefore relieve them of all responsibility! I am not making this up. I lived in that agony of soul for years, truly believing that I was the sum total of the problem! After all, they couldn't all be wrong, could they? I am so happy to have been set free from that prison! But, again, this freedom of will did not happen overnight! However, I do not think that it needs to take as long as it took me to find that freedom. I believe it took me so long because of the ignorance of this process, and the misguided doctrines of those who were trying to help.
I suffered rejection after rejection as each decided that I must be "beyond help". Since none of them could humble themselves enough to examine their doctrinal accuracy, apparently. Since they could not bring themselves to consider that the problem may have existed within them and their own systems or structures of belief. Religious pride and ignorance of the Word of G-d kept me on that downward cycle, that threatened my life and challenged my sanity, for years on end, and I am relieved beyond expression to be rid of it! Well, as free of it as one can be on this planet.
You see, we are all infected with the lies of the enemy. They have been woven into the very fabric of the righteous belief structures, and are therefore somewhat difficult to detect. Hence the many warnings against deception, the pleas to stay alert, to be on our guard against evil, etc. which are scattered all through the Word of G-d, and become more insistent, more frequent and more emphasized as it continues. But what all those who would rise to a place of spiritual leadership need to recognize and acknowledge is that if they intend to hold people accountable to the standard of the Word, then they must be at the ready to help those people identify and pull down the strongholds that prevent them from walking in the freedom necessary to rise to that standard! And, conversely, they should stop beating the victims of the strongholds for having the strongholds! That is no good! Many a suicidal victim has succumbed to the hopelessness of that cycle of condemnation!
I was almost one of them, but I really, really believed that the Word was for me, and that if I only held on to G-d He would deliver me! I actually read the Word though, all the time, and I am beginning to observe that this habit may not be the norm! lol I was desperate though! I had nothing else! I had no one to consistently turn to! My erratic behaviors had driven humanity away! But praise be to G-d, what the enemy meant to destroy me became my reason to press into Him, so it sort of backfired on the enemy! Not only did he not succeed at getting me to forfeit my life, but now I am exposing the patterns that might have caused that, so that perhaps others may be saved out of his web of religious frustration! Baruch Ha Shem!
So, go ahead, ask yourself the hard questions. If you don't like the answers then there is someone waiting to help you. Someone who is able and willing to right all the wrongs and tear down all those strongholds and break all those unrighteous patterns in your life. He has taken away our reproach, why should we take it back from those claiming to help us in His name? Freedom is possible for everyone, there is nothing too big for G-d! Dive head first into His Word, let it break those chains. He is not called our "Salvation" for nothing. Besides, what did we think He was "saving" us from?