“On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.” John 20: 1-9
We are now two weeks into Lent 2022. How is it going for you? Honestly, it took me a while to land on the particular fast our Lord was asking of me this season. There was the obvious fast from food and other material comforts, but I sensed He was pointing me towards a more meaningful interior fast as well.
I read an Instagram post where a priest called for a fast from sin and I thought, well duh, aren’t we trying to do that all the time, regardless of the Liturgical season?! The Lord stirred up the question in my heart though, what would a 40-day intentional fast from a particular sin pattern look like? As I reflected, a couple of specific possibilities of sins to fast from came quickly to mind: impatient or angry reactions, fear of being wrong (which leads me to self-justification and blaming or judging my husband or kids, even if that is done only in my mind).
As I took my thoughts to the Lord for His input, I sensed that His deep desire is not only for me (and you) to stop sinning, but that He wants to heal us of the distorted thinking, identity lies and unresolved wounding that become strongholds, allowing our sin patterns to persist. Below are a few common examples of how unresolved past wounds may connect to present day sin patterns:
- A pattern of anger may be rooted in feeling powerless to protect yourself or another from abuse.
- A pattern of control, grasping or overpowering others may be rooted in fear resulting from a traumatic event or loss that you had no control over.
- A pattern of self-criticism, self-loathing, self-harming behaviors may be rooted in shame and contempt of yourself for “causing” or “deserving” abuse that you endured.
- A pattern of lust, sins of impurity or promiscuity may be rooted in the deep need to be seen and valued by a man, resulting from being abandoned, rejected, or harmed by a significant male in your life (father, grandfather, brother).
- A pattern of negativity towards others or judgement of others may be rooted in the need to self-protect from the harsh criticism of a parent or teacher earlier in life.
Does anything there resonate for you? Do you see yourself in any of those examples? I do.
Our Lord doesn’t want us to “white knuckle it,” summoning all our strength to change our behavior. His way is deeper and much more lasting than my efforts alone will ever be. His way leads to inner healing and interior transformation, which will, in turn, necessarily affect behavior. He gets us to the same place by way of a different path.
Through my work in inner healing ministry, the Lord has revealed a few steps that we are likely to take along His path; steps that are consistently part of the process He guides us through to bring deeper healing.
Uncover the wound and expose it to Jesus’ healing Light. What we keep hidden festers. What we reveal can be healed.
Allow Him to tend your wound. In the safety of His presence – be that adoration, with a trusted Catholic/Christian counselor, or in the quiet of your prayer space at home – begin to feel and express all your feelings around that wound.
- Are you angry? Tell Him. Shout it out if you need to (He can handle it).
- Are you brokenhearted? Cry in His arms. Rest with Him and let Him comfort you.
- Are you sad, grieving, ashamed, lonely, afraid, regretful, confused? Let the feelings surface, giving them a few breaths and some space to be expressed.
- Say to Jesus what you need to say. You may never have been able to say, “Mom, I was really hurt when you told me…” or “Dad, I was really scared when you did/said…” Ask Jesus to help you say out loud to Him everything that needs to be expressed.
With the Lord, clean out the wound so it can close and heal. Some things that help our wounds to be cleansed include:
- Forgiveness. We may or may not be aware of holding unforgiveness. As the Lord guides us in a deeper exploration of a wound, we often become aware of the many ways that wound impacted us in the days and years that followed. Speaking a word of forgiveness for each of these impacts helps thoroughly cleanse the wound. In the name of Jesus, I forgive [name the person] for [name what they did or said that hurt you.] Be sure to include yourself; self-forgiveness is a key to true freedom.
- Repentance. Lord, I am sorry for the ways I haven’t trusted You and have tried to control things. Lord, I repent of all the ways I’ve self-protected, rather than relying on You to guard my heart.
- Renouncing Lies. Our woundedness is an open door to the influence of the enemy. He preys on our pain and weakness and takes every opportunity to distort the truth and speak lies to us. As we open our deeper woundedness to the Lord and proceed through all the work listed above, we will be able to recognize lies we’ve been believing, particularly lies about our identity. And then we simply renounce them, which means to break agreement with that lie, saying it no longer has any power over us. In the name of Jesus, I renounce the lie that [I am not enough, my needs are too much, I don’t matter, the abuse was my fault, I’m dirty / unworthy, I’m a terrible person…]
- Detachment. Ask the Lord to reveal any habits of mind, emotion or behavior you may be “attached to,” that are not what He wills for you. In the name of Jesus, I renounce anxiety, isolation, self-loathing, shame, guilt, bitterness, addiction, etc.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we declare TRUTH over our hearts and minds. Jesus Himself tells us that it is the truth that will make us free (ref John 8:32).
In Your Name Jesus, I declare the truth that You are always with me; that You have never and will never forsake me.
In Your Name Jesus, I declare the truth that You love me unconditionally.
In Your Name Jesus, I declare the truth that made me just how you want me to be, that my feelings and my needs are valid and important.
In Your Name Jesus, I declare the truth that…
Wow, looking over what I’ve written above, it seems like I’ll need three Lents to make some progress here! Thanks be to God, our Lord desires to be intimately engaged in this work with us all throughout our lifetime. He needs no special readiness from us other than our permission and our willingness. Once you’ve given Him your permission and your willingness, get your walking shoes on, take a deep breath and tell Him… “Yes Jesus, let’s do this.”
Expect a beautiful and transformational adventure ahead!
“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” – John 8:31-32
Copyright 2022, De Yarrison